Statement On Signing Of The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act For Commonsense Gun Safety Reforms

[The new law includes Senator Leahy’s bill to strengthen penalties for straw purchasing and gun trafficking. And as President Pro Tem of the U.S. Senate, Leahy and Speaker Pelosi signed the bill, the required step before transmitting it to the President.]

Today the President signed into law a much-needed step forward to addressing our nation’s gun violence epidemic. As we continue marking mass shootings with more and more frequency, and the nation calls on its elected officials to legislate change, the inaction in Congress has been deafening.

But today, we finally have progress. Earlier this week, the Senate convened to vote on its bipartisan agreement to address and prevent gun violence. I am pleased that key provisions of my bill, the “Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act,” were included in the agreement and now have been signed into law. This is a bill I have been working to pass for nearly ten years with Senator Collins and Senator Durbin, which strengthens penalties for straw purchasing and firearms trafficking. These are serious crimes and should be treated accordingly. I am confident these efforts will help increase safety in our communities, and I applaud the bipartisan negotiators for including these important reforms in their agreement.

However, today’s progress is also marked with a major setback this week. Prior to our Senate vote on Thursday, the conservative majority of the Supreme Court delivered an opinion that will undoubtedly open the door to unrestricted firearms access. The Court’s opinion in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen presents a dangerous interpretation of the Second Amendment that will put more guns on our streets and make our families, our communities and our country less safe.

I, like many Vermonters, am a proud gun owner. As a United States Senator, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution, including the Second Amendment. However, this decision turns the Second Amendment into an absolute, unassailable edict, and sets America back in its long pursuit of commonsense gun reform. I am glad that Congress was able to advance this critically important legislation, which has now been signed by President Biden, but I am also deeply concerned about the future of gun violence in our country.

As this Supreme Court decision has made clear, Congress will have additional work to do to enact additional commonsense gun reform. This agreement is far from perfect, but it is a first step. But it will not be the only step, and certainly, I hope, it must not, and will not, be the last step toward addressing the scourge of gun violence in America.

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