The US Congress passed its first new gun laws in decades on Friday, with a largely bipartisan vote. The new laws are a win for gun-control advocates, but are not without controversy. They are criticized for lacking universal background checks and other gun control measures, such as further restrictions on high-capacity magazines and new laws against semi-automatic weapons. But they are a step in the right direction, and liberals should cheer the progress.
What it does:
In spite of the fact that many gun control advocates demanding more, this bill was fairly far reaching. According to BBC, the reforms include:
* Tougher background checks for buyers younger than 21
* $15 billion in federal funds for mental health programs and improved school security
* Funding to spur states to implement “red flag” laws
* Closing what is described as the “boyfriend loophole” by preventing gun sales to those convicted of abusing unmarried intimate partners.
It passed as the Safer Communities Act.
Background checks for younger buyers
In response to the recent mass shootings, the US Congress has passed a bipartisan bill that would bolster background checks for younger buyers of firearms. The bill would also beef up penalties for gun traffickers and restrict firearms for domestic abusers who are not married to victims. The legislation would also provide $750 million for 19 states to implement red flag laws. These laws would prevent gun owners from selling guns to those who violate them and provide money for violence prevention programs.
Red flag laws
Despite omissions and inconsistencies, this first new gun laws in decades promises to have a positive impact. This bill will fund mental health services and school security programs and expand criminal background checks for some gun buyers. It will also bar a wider group of domestic-violence offenders from purchasing firearms and create programs to seize guns from troubled individuals. The US Congress passed the gun control bill 234 to 193 with no Democratic defections. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX), who represents Uvalde, Texas, where a mass school shooting occurred in May of this year.
Now that it has passed by both Houses, it is expected for President Biden to quickly sign it into law.