In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, it’s important we don’t lose sight of a recent, significant accomplishment to rein in this country’s gun violence.
Friday, federal lawmakers passed the most significant federal gun restrictions in decades following the recent spate of mass murders.
The legislation takes steps to restrict gun access for the youngest buyers, domestic violence offenders and others who could pose a risk to their communities.
Specifically, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act would enhance background checks for gun buyers ages 18 to 21.The ease of access to firearms for young adults came under increased scrutiny after 18-year-olds armed with assault-style rifles carried out both the Buffalo, N.Y., and Uvalde, Texas, shootings.
The legislation also looks to close the so-called boyfriend loophole to restrict gun ownership for domestic violence offenders who are not married to their partners.
It would also set up grants for states to encourage red-flag laws, which allow police, relatives or acquaintances to petition courts to order the removal of a gun if the individual is deemed a threat to themselves or others; it would also fund school safety and youth mental-health programs.
The House approved it by a 234-193 margin, as 14 Republicans joined the Democrats in passing it. President Biden quickly signed it into law.
Earlier, 15 Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, crossed the aisle and voted with Democrats for the bill in the Senate, which passed, 65-33.
McConnell, who has long fought efforts to restrict gun ownership after previous mass shootings, framed the legislation as a middle ground between protecting schools and ensuring gun ownership rights.
The Senate’s bipartisan consensus came about with the help of an unlikely ally.
Talks led by Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, that reddest of red states, ultimately led to a breakthrough.
Murphy, who represented Newtown, Conn., in the U.S. House during the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in 2012, has long pushed for new gun restrictions.
Cornyn, ostracized by his fellow Texas Republicans for his conciliatory stance, nonetheless stood firm.
That’s how Congress is supposed to work — agreeing on the possible rather than sticking to an-all-or-nothing, zero-sum position.
In that vein, give credit to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The California Democrat acted quickly to pass this legislation, even though she had pushed for passage of a far more sweeping gun bill earlier this month.
Pelosi’s original proposal, which would have banned assault-style rifles for people under 21 and barred certain high-capacity magazines, had little chance of getting through the Senate.
And those upset with the high court’s other recent high-profile decision — striking down a New York state law requiring applicants seeking a license to carry a gun outside of their homes have “proper cause” to do so — should take that ruling in context.
The court viewed New York’s law as too vague and all encompassing. It was based on an applicant’s stated reason for carrying a firearm outside the home, rather than one’s competency to do so.
The decision doesn’t prevent New York lawmakers to pass gun restrictions similar to those that have been on the books in our state since the 1990s.
In Massachusetts, individuals must receive training before applying to their local police chief for a license to carry a firearm outside the home. The police chief then does a comprehensive background check on the individual, and can deny an applicant if in the chief’s estimation, that person lacks the “suitability’’ for carrying a concealed firearm in public.
The objective reasoning behind a police chief’s decision puts that law on firm statutory ground.
While not all that some sought, Congress’ gun bill should help pre-empt another Uvalde or Buffalo — a goal everyone should embrace.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: