The Capitol / Photo by Chris O'Neil

The House passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act early on Friday. The passing of this measure will mark the first time in nearly 30 years that Congress has passed a major piece of gun control legislation. The legislation passed with 14 Republicans voting for the measure, 3 Republicans opted not to vote at all.

President Biden is expected to pass the legislation sometime next week. Biden wrote earlier this month that the legislation was “the most significant gun safety legislation to pass Congress in decades.”

“Each day that passes, more children are killed in this country: the sooner it comes to my desk, the sooner I can sign it, and the sooner we can use these measures to save lives,” Biden added.

Here are some highlights from the Senate version of the legislation:

Red Flag Laws

The legislation, as currently proposed, has numerous concerns regarding due process. The bill outlines that Americans will have a right to due process under the proposed Red Flag Laws but does not specify what it will do to protect the 5th and 4th amendment rights of Americans.

While Americans will be granted a right to an attorney during these proceedings, they will not be provided with one if they can not afford one. Unlike traditional cases, there are no public defenders in this space; you will be expected to provide your attorney.

Enhanced Background Checks for those Under 21

This bill included enhanced background checks for those purchasing a firearm under the age of 21. However, before the bill’s release, it was unknown what this meant.

These enhanced background checks will involve a waiting period of 3-10 business days, 3 being the minimum number of days, and 10 is the maximum it can be extended to if searching through records takes longer than expected. All agencies involved with the new background checks must inform the FFL by the third day if they need the full ten business days.

These new background checks will involve looking through state juvenile records, mental health records, and a check-in with a local law enforcement agency for any other disqualifying records.

Federal Firearms Licensee Changes

In what is the most concerning part of the bill, the government intends to change who is an FFL.

An FFL or a Federal Firearms Licensee is an individual with a government licensee to sell firearms. This bill would make those who are looking to liquidate their gun collection and those who inherit firearms that they want to sell an FFL. However, this would mean that those who fall into those circumstances must adhere to federal law regarding the buying and selling of firearms.

New Penalties for Straw Purchasers

This bill will allow new, increased penalties for those convicted of purchasing a firearm for a person prohibited from owning a firearm.

Current law allows for a $250,000 fine and five years in prison for straw purchasing. The newly proposed bill would allow for 15 years in prison, and if the firearm involved in the straw purchase was used for a “crime of terrorism,” the purchaser can face up to 25 years in prison.

The “Boyfriend Loophole”

This bill contains language that will redefine what a domestic partner is but fails to give specific guidelines. The bill reads:

“In its review, the Commission shall consider, in particular, an appropriate amendment to reflect the intent of Congress that straw purchases without significant criminal histories receive sentences that are sufficient to deter participation in such activities and reflect the defendant’s role and culpability, and any coercion, domestic violence survivor history, or other mitigating factors.”

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[…] House Republicans voted to pass the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act alongside Democrats. The passing of this measure […]

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