A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

What’s in The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, first federal gun legislation in decades?

Staff report

Bipartisan legislation on gun safety passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden is the most significant new federal gun safety measure in decades.

It comes, most immediately, in response to the public outcry after the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, in which a lone gunman entered an elementary school and killed 21, including 19 children, and injuring and traumatizing hundreds more.

The bill passed 65-33 in the Senate, which included positive votes from all 50 Democrat senators, and 234-193 in the House, with 14 Republicans joining all the Democrats.

Republican leader Sen. Mitch McConnell voted for the bill.

Here is some of what’s in the 80-page Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, according to news reports:

• $750 million to help states implement and conduct crisis intervention programs, like mental health courts, drug courts, and veteran courts. The programs are aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of those who are a threat to themselves or others.

• Requires more gun sellers to register as Federally Licensed Firearm Dealers who are required to do background checks before they sell a gun to anyone.

• Closing the so-called boyfriend loophole in domestic violence law which bars anyone who is convicted of domestic violence against someone they have a serious relationship with from having a gun. Gun ownership right can be restored after five years if they don’t commit other crimes.

• Thorough reviews of potential gun buyers aged 18-21, implementing a new protocol for checking juvenile records. The National Instant Criminal Background Check system must complete the review within 10 days.

• Increased funding for mental health programs and school security, including $150 million for the suicide crisis hotline and $250 million for community mental health.

• Penalties on “straw purchasing,” that is buying a firearm for someone else got unlawful purposes. New sentencing ranges from up to 15 years for making an illegal purchase and up to 25 years if the fun is used in a felony, terrorism, or trafficking.

• Provides $1 billion for safe schools and citizenship education.

The bill does not ban military-style semi-automatic rifles and or require universal background checks.

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One Comment

  1. Gene Ralno says:

    To quote again, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” It reaffirms the natural human right to own and carry arms. It also forbids government from infringing on those rights. Infringe means to meddle or tinker with, even slightly.

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