By Paul Gattis 

Sen. Richard Shelby, shown here speaking on the Senate floor in 2021, said the bipartisan gun legislation passed by Congress could be a threat to the Second Amendment.

No Alabama Republicans in the Senate or House voted in favor of bipartisan gun legislation that has passed Congress and now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

The state’s only Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Terri Sewell, voted in favor of the bill that passed the House Friday after getting Senate approval on Thursday.

Altogether, 15 Republicans in the Senate and 14 in the House gave the bill their backing.

The bill comes in the aftermath of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 students and two teachers were killed one month ago today.

Sen. Richard Shelby said the bill could be a first step toward chipping away at the rights protected by the Second Amendment.

“I firmly believe that this legislation raises serious constitutional concerns and opens the door to the erosion of the Second Amendment to our Constitution,” Shelby said in a statement Thursday. “The Second Amendment states that ‘the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’ This does not leave room for question. It is evident that our Founding Fathers counted the right to keep and bear arms as a fundamental right of all law-abiding Americans. The Second Amendment is not a suggestion.”

The bill also does not address curtailing violent gun crimes, Shelby said.

“Congress should focus on solutions that truly tackle violent crime, address mental health, and ensure school safety without infringing on the constitutional freedoms of law-abiding gun owners,” he said. “This bill does not do that. For that reason, I intend to vote against the ‘Bipartisan Safer Communities Act’ and will continue to oppose efforts that infringe upon the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.”

Sewell lauded the bill, outlining eight aspects that she said will make the country safer.

“After decades of inaction, Congress is finally taking steps to address the gun violence epidemic in America,” Sewell said in a statement Friday. “I applaud my Senate colleagues for coming to a bipartisan agreement on gun violence prevention legislation. This bill will take meaningful action to curb our nation’s gun violence epidemic and save lives without infringing on the rights of responsible gun owners. Notably, this bill would close the boyfriend loophole, strengthen background checks, crack down on illegal gun trafficking, and make substantial investments in our nation’s broken mental health system.”

The boyfriend loophole to which Sewell referred included in the bill adds convicted domestic violence abusers in dating relationships to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

At the same time, Sewell said she wished the bill had included more restrictions.

“While this bill is not as robust as we would have hoped, any action is better than no action at all,” Sewell said. “I was proud to cast my vote for the Safer Communities Act and will continue to push my colleagues for more action to keep our communities safe!”

Sen. Tommy Tuberville said the bill was rushed through the Senate and that accelerated process was a factor in his opposition.

“While I appreciate that the bill includes provisions that focus on mental health, I have serious concerns over how states could implement red flag laws without appropriate due process protections, and I am disappointed with the lack of direct funding to safeguard our schools,” Tuberville said in a statement Thursday.

“I would have welcomed the opportunity to thoughtfully address these concerns, but we were given about an hour to review the bill before we were asked to take the first vote, and there was no amendment process to improve the bill once it was on the floor.”

The red flag provisions included in the bill have not proven to be effective in states that already have those provisions in place, Rep. Robert Aderholt of Haleyville said.

“One of the most concerning provisions in this bill is one that incentivizes the creation of red flag laws at the state level,” Aderholt said in a statement Friday. “This is a backwards system in which gun owners can be flagged without committing a crime, have their guns taken away from them by the government, and forced to go through the bureaucracy and prove their innocence in order to retrieve their rightfully owned firearms.

“It’s important to note that state red flag laws existed in Connecticut when the Sandy Hook tragedy occurred, and these red flag laws did not stop the sick individual from getting his hands on a gun. New York has some of the strictest red flag laws in the country, and that did not prevent the Buffalo shooting.”

Rep. Gary Palmer of Hoover described the bill as a “missed opportunity.”

“The solution to gun violence is not bribing states to implement programs which infringe upon the 2nd and 4th amendment rights of the American people,” Palmer said in a statement Friday. “This is another missed opportunity to specifically address school safety and the root cause of mass shootings. This broad piece of legislation is being foisted on the American people with hardly any debate and has the potential to violate the rights of law-abiding citizens.

“Now is the time to address school safety as well as public safety in our country by enforcing current state laws against threats of violence and focusing on the underlying mental health issues many of these criminals have in common. Unfortunately, this legislation is another example of left-wing Democrats taking advantage of a tragedy to advance their agenda under the guise of dealing with the epidemic of violence afflicting our nation.”

Rep. Mike Rogers of Saks criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in voicing his opposition to the bill.

“Just a day after the Supreme Court affirmed our Constitutional right to own guns, Speaker Pelosi puts legislation on the House floor that will chip away at our Second Amendment,” Rogers said in a statement Friday. “This bill will allow taxpayer dollars to fund government-run gun confiscation programs and criminalize gun transactions between law abiding citizens. What part of ‘the right of the people to keep and bear arms does Speaker Pelosi not understand?”

Rep. Barry Moore of Enterprise appeared at a press conference Thursday with members of the House Freedom Caucus on to speak against the bill.

“The gun control bill is not a compromise, it’s capitulation,” Moore said in a statement Friday. “Relentless gun grabbers get closer to their goal of eliminating (the Second Amendment) but those of us wanting to protect our Constitutional rights get nothing. And it does little to actually protect students in vulnerable, gun-free zones.

“It is incredibly disheartening that so many self-proclaimed conservatives would surrender our Second Amendment rights and strip Americans of their due process to enact red flag laws that have been proven ineffective at reducing crime.”

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