Brian Fitzpatrick was the lone GOP Pennsylvania US Rep. to vote for the sweeping Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which President Biden signed into law Saturday.
Congress was able to pass the widest ranging gun violence bill in decades Friday, thanks in no part to Pennsylvania’s GOP Congressional delegation.
Eight of the nine Republican US Reps. serving Pennsylvania in Congress voted against the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law Saturday.
“Time is of the essence. Lives will be saved,” Biden said upon signing the bill into law. Citing the families of shooting victims he has met, the president said, “Their message to us was, ‘Do something.’ How many times did we hear that? ‘Just do something. For God’s sake, just do something.’ Today we did.”
The Democratic-led Congress approved the legislation on a mostly party-line 234-193 vote, capping a spurt of action prompted by voter pushback over last month’s mass shootings in New York and Texas.
Brain Fitzpatrick was the lone Republican Rep. from Pennsylvania to vote for the bill.
Guy Reschenthaler was one of the eight GOP congressmen to vote against it. In a statement after the House vote, he cited his gun-owning constituents in southwestern Pennsylvania, referring to them as “hardworking, law-abiding citizens looking to protect their families, hunt with their kids, or just put food on the table.”
“As a gun owner and staunch defender of Americans’ constitutional rights, I proudly voted against the Senate’s gun control legislation because this flawed bill will disarm law-abiding citizens, erode the Second Amendment, and trash due process rights afforded to all Americans,” he wrote.
The Senate approved the measure late Thursday by a bipartisan 65-33 margin. Pennsylvania’s Republican US Senator Pat Toomey voted in favor of the measure.
What’s in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act?
The legislation will toughen background checks for the youngest gun buyers, keep firearms from more domestic violence offenders, and help states put in place red flag laws that make it easier for authorities to take weapons from people designated by the courts to be dangerous.
Most of its $13 billion cost will help bolster mental health programs and aid schools, which have been targeted in Newtown, Connecticut, Parkland, Florida, and most recently Uvalde, Texas, in mass shootings.
It omits far tougher restrictions Democrats have long championed like a ban on assault-type weapons and background checks for all gun transactions, but is the most impactful firearms violence measure Congress has approved since enacting a now-expired assault weapons ban in 1993.
Specifically, the bill:
- Earmarks $750 million in funding for states to create and administer laws to attempt to keep deadly weapons from individuals a court has determined to be a significant danger to themselves or others.
- Adds convicted domestic violence abusers in dating relationships to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Creates a process for removal from NICS five years after the completion of the sentence, only if there are no intervening prohibited crimes or other similar offenses.
- Clarifies the definition of a ‘federally licensed firearms dealer’ by cracking down on criminals who illegally evade licensing requirements, and clarifying which sellers need to register, conduct background checks, and keep appropriate records.
- Requires an investigative period to review juvenile and mental health records, including checks with state databases and local law enforcement, for buyers under 21 years of age.
Who Voted Against the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act?
- John Joyce (R-Blair)
- Fred Keller (R-Snyder)
- Mike Kelly (R-Butler)
- Dan Meuser (R-Luzerne)
- Scott Perry (R-York)
- Guy Reschenthaler (R-Allegheny)
- Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster)
- Glenn Thompson (R-Centre)
Full Pennsylvania Congressional Roll Call
- Brendan F. Boyle (D-Philadelphia) Yea
- Matt Cartwright (D-Lackawanna) Yea
- Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) Yea
- Michael F. Doyle (D-Allegheny) Yea
- Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia) Yea
- Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) Yea
- Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester) Yea
- John Joyce (R-Blair) Nay
- Fred Keller (R-Snyder) Nay
- Mike Kelly (R-Butler) Nay
- Conor Lamb (D-Allegheny) Yea
- Dan Meuser (R-Luzerne) Nay
- Scott Perry (R-York) Nay
- Guy Reschenthaler (R-Allegheny) Nay
- Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware) Yea
- Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster) Nay
- Glenn Thompson (R-Centre) Nay
- Susan Wild (D-Lehigh) Yea
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.