Biden Signs Federal Gun Control Bill
On Saturday, June 25, 2022, President Biden signed S.2938, the so-called "Bipartisan Safer Communities Act."
The mainstream media are hailing this bill as a great victory and Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), one of the bill's champions, claims it will "save thousands of lives." But this legislative Frankenstein, cobbled together by Republicans and Democrats frantic to "do something," is unlikely to do much of anything other than waste tax dollars and infringe on the rights of those who have committed no crime.
Buckeye Firearms Association, the NRA, and other gun rights organizations opposed this bill. However, once it passed the Senate, where it could have been stopped by Republicans, there was no doubt it would sail though the House and land on Biden's desk.
Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman voted in favor of the bill. Other Republican Senators voting for the bill include Blunt (R-MO), Burr (R-NC), Capito (R-WV), Cassidy (R-LA), Collins (R-ME), Cornyn (R-TX), Ernst (R-IA), Graham (R-SC), McConnell (R-KY), Murkowski (R-AK), Romney (R-UT), Tillis (R-NC), Toomey (R-PA), and Young (R-IN).
Ohio Congressional Republicans Steve Chabot (R-OH), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), Mike Turner (R-OH), and David Joyce (R-OH) all voted in favor. Other Republican Congress members voting for the bill include Cheney (R-WY), Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Gonzalez (R-TX), Jacobs (R-NY), Katko (R-KY), Kinzinger (R-IL), Meijer (R-MI), Rice (R-SC), Salazar (R-FL), Upton (R-MI).
Here are some of the elements of this bill:
- Expanded background checks and waiting periods. In addition to the normal background check, juvenile and mental health records will be evaluated for gun purchasers who are less than 21 years old. The three-day maximum for this process will be increased to 10 days.
- "Boyfriends" included in definition of "domesic violence" offenders. Firearms are already denied to domestic abusers if they are married to, or live with, the victim. Now the denial will include domestic abusers who have dated the victim.
- Tax dollars to encourage more gun confiscation via Red Flag laws. Federal aid will be offered to states (and the District of Columbia) that allow for the seizure of guns from people deemed dangerous.
- Tax dollars for mental health. The bill will spend money to expand community mental health clinics, mental health programs in schools, and remote mental health consultations.
- Tax dollars for various "violence prevention" programs. This includes increased spending on mental health, crisis intervention, school safety, and other programs.
- Crackdown on casual gun sales. The bill redefines what being engaged in the business of selling guns means and requires more people to obtain a federal license and conduct background checks.
- Federal prosecution of "gun traffickers." While straw purchases are already illegal, the bill will create federal charges for such crimes with penalties up to 25 years in prison.
It doesn't take a genius to see the potential abuses in some of these new restrictions. How will the extra background checks be conducted and what qualifies as a mental health disqualification? How will a relationship of "dating" be proven? What sort of violence prevention programs will be funded and will they include politically-motivated activities? How many people will have their rights violated by red flag seizures based on mere accusations?
There's a lot here that will end up being based on subjective standards rather than objective standards, which means those with bad intent could misuse these laws.
And how long will it take for lawmakers to expand on some of these new laws to create more stringent background checks for everyone or ban personal sales outright? Clearly many Democrats would like to go much, much further.
The big problem with this, or for that matter, any new gun control law is that the same people who want guns to be more strictly regulated also have a poor record of enforcing laws against convicted, violent criminals. So what's the point of passing new laws? In this case, it appears the only point is to say, "See? We did something."
So as always, it's more about politics than safety. And ultimately who will pay the price? Everyone but those committing violent crimes.
Dean Rieck is Executive Director of Buckeye Firearms Association, a former competitive shooter, NRA Patron Member, #1 NRA Recruiter for 2013, business owner and partner with Second Call Defense.
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