'It's going to save lot of lives': Joe Biden signs bipartisan gun safety bill into law as control measure
The legislation will toughen background checks for the youngest gun buyers and keep firearms from more domestic violence offenders
In a landmark gun control measure, President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan gun safety bill into law on Saturday, June 25. This is the first major federal gun safety legislation passed in decades. "God willing, it's going to save a lot of lives," Biden said at the White House as he finished signing the bill. The bill, called the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, was released by Republican Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
The Senate passed the bill on Thursday, June 23, and on Friday, June 24, the House passed it by 234-193. As many as 14 Republicans voted with Democrats. Biden said on Thursday that after he returns from Europe, he would host Congress members who supported the landmark gun safety legislation at a White House event on July 11 to welcome the new law with the families of victims of gun violence.
This landmark law came amid an ongoing discussion about ways to curb gun violence in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting. A deadly massacre unfolded at Robb Elementary school in Uvalde on May 24 when 18-year-old Salvador Ramos barricaded himself inside a classroom and slaughtered 19 students and two teachers. Police faced sharp criticism for allegedly failing to stop the shooting quickly enough and come to the victims' rescue on time. Ramos was shot dead by an off-duty Customs and Border Protection agent from an elite tactical unit. In another incident in May, a racially motivated teen, Payton Gendron, gunned down ten people and injured three others at a Buffalo supermarket. The 18-year-old drove from 'hours away' in Conklin, New York, to the Tops market on Jefferson Avenue. The shooting took place in a predominantly Black neighborhood. Eleven of the victims were Black and two of them were White. Gendron has pleaded not guilty.
The legislation will toughen background checks for the youngest gun buyers. It will also keep firearms from more domestic violence offenders. States will now get help to put in place red flag laws that make it easier for authorities to take weapons from people believed to be dangerous. Most of its $13 billion costs will help strengthen mental health programs and aid schools.
The law will also prevent anyone who is convicted of a domestic violence crime against someone they have a "continuing serious relationship of a romantic or intimate nature" from having a gun. The law is not retroactive. However, it will allow people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes to restore their gun rights after five years, if they have not committed other crimes.
"While this bill doesn't do everything I want, it does include actions I've long called for that are going to save lives," Biden said. "Today, we say more than 'enough.' We say more than enough. This time, when it seems impossible to get anything done in Washington, we are doing something consequential."
"If we can reach compromise on guns, we ought to be able to reach a compromise on other critical issues, from veterans' health care to cutting edge American innovation and so much more. I know there's much more work to do, and I'm never going to give up, but this is a monumental day," he added.
At a time when it seems impossible to get anything done in Washington, bipartisan members of Congress and I did something. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act will save lives. pic.twitter.com/XegBeK4vfS— President Biden (@POTUS) June 25, 2022
The bill encourages states to include juvenile records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System with grants. Protocols are also in place to check those records. The bill targets people who sell guns as primary sources of income but have failed to register as federally licensed firearms dealers.
Biden appreciated the families of gun violence victims before he signed the bill. "I especially want to thank the families that Jill and I have (met), many of whom we sat with for hours on end, across the country. There's so many we've gotten to know who've lost their soul to an epidemic of gun violence. They've lost their child, their husband, their wife," Biden said. "Nothing is going to fill that void in their hearts. But they led the way so other families will not have the experience and the pain and trauma they've had to live through."
Tune in as I sign into law S. 2938, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, and deliver remarks on reducing gun violence and saving lives. https://t.co/evfofKN84e— President Biden (@POTUS) June 25, 2022
This legislation comes after the Supreme Court on Thursday, June 23, struck down New York’s 109-old law restricting the carrying of concealed firearms. This became its first major Second Amendment decision in over a decade. Justice Clarence Thomas said while writing for the 6-3 majority on Thursday that the law’s requirement for New Yorkers who want a permit to carry a handgun in public to show “proper cause” that the weapon is specifically needed for self-defense “violates the Fourteenth Amendment by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms in public.” The decision concerns New York law, but it could affect other states with similar permitting regimes, such as California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island.