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How many votes are needed to pass gun control bills in the Senate?

Thanks to the Senate filibuster, sixty votes are needed for a gun control proposal to pass. Which measures have the best chances of becoming law?

Update:
Thanks to the Senate filibuster, sixty votes are needed for a gun control proposal to pass. Which measures have the best chances of becoming law?
NICHOLAS KAMMGetty

After a series of horrific and tragic mass shootings have captured the public’s attention, the national conversation on gun violence has made it to Washington DC.

Late last week the House of Representatives passed the “Protecting Our Kids Act” which would make sweeping changes to federal gun laws. However, with sixty votes needed to pass any bill in the Senate, such a large package is unlikely to garner the support necessary.

A group of bipartisan Senators are meeting to discuss various proposals to reduce the prevalence of mass shootings, which have now come to be known as a uniquly “American” issue.

For any proposal to pass in the Senate, sixty votes are required due to the filibuster. The vote threshold severely limits what a viable bill could include because of the Republican caucus’ staunch opposition to gun control.

The Senators that have been engaged in conversation include Chris Murphy (D-CT), John Cornyn (R-TX), Krysten Sinema (D-AZ), and Thom Tillis (R-NC). So far, the group has stated that they are looking at various reforms ranging from expanding background checks, providing money to enhance school safety, creating incentives for states to implement red flag laws, and increasing funding for mental health services.

Senator Chris Murphy is optimistic

“What are we doing here?” asked Senator Chris Murphy in the wake of the shooting at Robb Elementary School.

As the Senator from Connecticut, the preventing gun violence has been a top a priority of Murphy since over twenty young children were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary school in 2012. While action has been taken at the state level, no meaningful effort to reduce the issue of mass shootings has occurred at the federal level in the decade following the tragedy at Sandy Hook.

In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Sen. Murphy said that he has “never been part of negotiations as serious as these.”

New polling on gun control

A recent poll conducted by Quinnipiac University found that seventy-four percent of respondents agreed that the age to purchase assault weapons should be increased to twenty-one years old.

Some Republicans see this increase as arbitrary but in reality it aligns with many other policies in the US including age restrictions to purchase alcohol and in some cases cigarettes. Some experts have put forth increasing the age after evidence compiled from hundreds of shootings show that many who carry out these acts are younger men between eighteen and twenty-one who are able to legally purchase these dangerous weapons.

What states have banned assult weapons?

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New York

Additionally, support for red flag laws which allows law enforcement officials or family members to petition the courts to seize weapons from individuals they believe pose a risk of violent behavior to themselves or others has also increased. Quinnipiac found that eighty-three percent of respondents (77 percent of Republicans and 93 percent of Democrats) said that they approved of such a measure.

What states have red flag laws?

  1. California
  2. Colorado
  3. Connecticut
  4. Deleware
  5. District of Colombia 
  6. Florida
  7. Indiana 
  8. Illinois
  9. Maryland 
  10. New Jersey
  11. New Mexico 
  12. New York
  13. Oregon
  14. Rhode Island
  15. Vermont 
  16. Virginia
  17. Washington
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