Full Text: The First Major Gun Safety Bill in the United States
|Full Text: President Biden Signs Gun Safety Bill Into Law. Photo: BBC|
The signing comes just over a month after the mass shooting at a Texas elementary school killed 19 children and two adults. That attack came 10 days after a racist mass shooting at a Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket killed 10 Black people.
"While this bill doesn't do everything I want, it does include actions I've long called for that are going to save lives," Biden said just before signing the measure.
"Today, we say more than enough. We say more than enough," he added. "At a time when it seems impossible to get anything done in Washington, we are doing something consequential."
The legislation, which passed the House 234-193 Friday night following Senate approval Thursday, includes incentives for states to pass so-called red flag laws that allow groups to petition courts to remove weapons from people deemed a threat to themselves or others.
In addition, the bill expands an existing law that prevents people convicted of domestic abuse from owning a gun to include dating partners rather than just spouses and former spouses.
It also expands background checks on people between the ages of 18 and 21 seeking to buy a gun.
The National Rifle Association says it opposes the bill.
"This legislation can be abused to restrict lawful gun purchases, infringe upon the rights of law-abiding Americans, and use federal dollars to fund gun control measures being adopted by state and local politicians," the NRA said in a statement Tuesday.
|Joe Biden called on Congress to ban assault weapons to combat the epidemic of gun violence. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA|
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who led the negotiations between 10 Senate Republicans and 10 Democrats, called the bill a compromise right before the Senate vote began Thursday.
"It doesn't do everything I want," Murphy said. "But what we are doing will save thousands of lives without violating anyone's Second Amendment rights."
What's in the bipartisan gun safety bill
$750 million to help states implement and run crisis intervention programs
This money can be used to implement and manage red flag programs, which are aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves or others. It also can be used for other crisis intervention programs like mental health courts, drug courts and veteran courts.
Whether the money could be used for things other than red flag laws was a primary sticking point at the end of the negotiations, and Republicans were able to secure money for states that don't have red flag laws but have other crisis intervention programs.
Closing the so-called boyfriend loophole
This legislation closes a years-old loophole in domestic violence law that barred individuals who had been convicted of domestic violence crimes against spouses, or partners with whom they shared children or cohabitated with, from having guns. Old statutes didn't include intimate partners who may not live together, be married or share children. The new bill would bar anyone who is convicted of a domestic violence crime against someone they have a "continuing serious relationship of a romantic or intimate nature" with from having a gun. The provision isn't retroactive.
The bill, however, would allow those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes to restore their gun rights after five years if they haven't committed other crimes.
Requires more gun sellers to register as Federally Licensed Firearm Dealers
The bill goes after individuals who sell guns as primary sources of income but have previously evaded registering as Federally Licensed Firearm Dealers. This is significant because federally licensed dealers are required to administer background checks before they sell a gun to someone.
More thorough reviews of people ages 18-21 who want to buy guns
The bill encourages states to include juvenile records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check system with grants, as well as implement a new protocol for checking those records. It gives NICS three days to review an individual's record. If something potentially disqualifying comes up, NICS gets an additional seven days. If the review is not completed by then, the gun transfer goes through.
Creates new federal statutes against gun trafficking and straw trafficking
The legislation makes it easier to go after those who are buying guns for individuals who are not allowed to purchase weapons on their own.
Increases funding for mental health programs and school security
This money is directed to a series of programs, many of which already exist but would be funded more robustly under the new law.
The Supreme Court struck down New York law restricting concealed carry
Biden's action also comes just days after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision saying there is a constitutional right to carry a handgun in public for self-defense, striking down a New York law that restricted concealed carry.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul called the decision "reckless" and "reprehensible."
"Our states and our governors have a moral responsibility to do what we can because of what is going on: The insanity of the gun culture that has now possessed everyone all the way up to even to the Supreme Court," Hochul said shortly after the decision Thursday.
There have been at least 281 mass shootings in the U.S in 2022, according to the Gun Violence Archive. As of June 8, there had been 27 shootings at schools this year, according to Education Week, which has been tracking school shootings since 2018.
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