‘Do something’: Joe Biden signs rare bipartisan gun control legislation

Published on Jun 26, 2022 01:51 PM IST
Calling it a ‘monumental day’, US President Joe Biden acknowledged that the law doesn’t go far enough but claimed it would save lives
US First Lady Jill Biden looks on as US President Joe Biden signs the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act into law, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on Saturday. (AFP)
US First Lady Jill Biden looks on as US President Joe Biden signs the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act into law, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on Saturday. (AFP)

WASHINGTON: United States President Joe Biden signed a rare bipartisan bill which institutionalises a set of limited gun safety measures on Saturday into law. The first legislative reform in three decades on the issue was sparked by a recent spike in mass shoutings across the country, especially a hate crime in Buffalo that killed ten people and a school shooting in Texas that killed 19 children and two teachers.

Calling it a “monumental day”, Biden acknowledged that the law doesn’t go far enough but claimed it would save lives.

The new measures will enhance background checks for potential gun buyers under 21 empowering authorities to examine their juvenile and mental health records; enhance funding for states to implement laws that allow for the confiscation of guns from people deemed dangerous; and closes what is referred to as the “boyfriend loop” with a ban on domestic abusers from purchasing arms. The package also includes increased funding for mental health programmes and school security.

The legislative push comes even as the conservative dominated Supreme Court, on Thursday, overturned a New York law that imposed restrictions on people from carrying guns in public without a special permit. Even as the judiciary continued to expand the scope of the Second Amendment, the political class - including Republicans, ardent advocates of gun ownership - responded to a shift in public opinion as mass shootings triggering fears across partisan divide.

Referring to tragedies sparked by America’s gun laws, Biden said, “From Columbine to Sandy Hook, to Charleston, Orlando, Las Vegas, Parkland, El Paso, Atlanta, Buffalo, Uvalde, and for the shootings that happen every day in the streets that are mass shootings - and we don’t even hear about them, the number of people killed every day in the streets - their message to us was: ‘Do something’.”

Claiming that they had finally done so, the president said the law includes measures that will save lives. “It funds crisis intervention…it keeps guns out of the hands of people who are a danger to themselves and to others..it finally closes what is known as the ‘boyfriend loop’.”

He added that bill required young people ages 18 to 21 to undergo enhanced background checks. “It includes the first-ever federal law that makes gun trafficking and straw purchases distinct federal crimes for the first time. It clarifies who needs to register as a federally licensed gun dealer, and run background checks before selling a single weapon.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Prashant Jha is the Washington DC-based US correspondent of Hindustan Times. He is also the editor of HT Premium. Jha has earlier served as editor-views and national political editor/bureau chief of the paper. He is the author of How the BJP Wins: Inside India's Greatest Election Machine and Battles of the New Republic: A Contemporary History of Nepal.

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