The issue of gun violence and crime is always one of the biggest talking points in the United States. Differences between Republicans and Democrats on the issue is stark, so debates are always ongoing. Despite this, it is rare to actually see new gun legislation passed.
2022 marked a significant change from the norm. This year has been a key year for gun regulations. In June, President Joe Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is the most comprehensive piece of gun legislation since the 1994 federal assault weapons ban.
Biden’s federal legislation was motivated by a string of mass shootings at the start of the year. The Uvalde school shooting was the most notable of those shootings. Waiting until immediately after a shooting to push gun legislation is a common strategy of Democrats who often politicize tragedies, like the one in Uvalde, Texas.
Even if this strategy of politicization by the Democrats was not just a cynical political ploy, the intention of gun regulation is a valid one. Everyone wants to reduce gun violence and make communities safer. However, Democratic gun regulations are not the best way to achieve these goals.
This article will discuss some of the problematic specifics of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and then explain why this new law will not be effective at reducing gun violence.
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act’s “red flag law” incentive is a dangerous infringement on due process and a first step towards eliminating Second Amendment protections for all gun owners
The Second Amendment grants all Americans the right to bear arms. The Founding Fathers specifically stated this right “shall not be infringed.” Only freedom of speech was deemed more important than the right to bear arms by the Founding Fathers, which shows just how fundamental a right it is for Americans.
While Biden’s Bipartisan Safer Communities Act does not specifically ban Americans from buying certain types of guns, which would be a significant Second Amendment violation, the bill incentives states to adopt so-called “red flag laws.”
These laws can allow for law abiding citizens to have their legally owned guns taken from them by law enforcement without proper due process. Many of these laws allow for police to take away a person’s guns so long as the police believe there is a “significant danger.”
These instances not only can deprive innocent people of their Second Amendment rights but also can give people a police record and burden them in the future when buying firearms in the future. In many cases, police officers are not even required to get a court order before seizing one’s firearms.
Because red flag laws are dealt with at the state level, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act does not create any new red flag laws. What the bill does do is create a template for red flag law programs and incentivize states to set up red flag laws in accordance with federal policy.
Biden’s bill provides money to states to set up red flag law programs. States will not receive funds if they do not cater to the White House’s policy and elect not to enact red flag laws.
This sets a dangerous precedent of the federal government infringing on individual people’s Second Amendment rights. It also infringes on states’ rights to regulate their citizens independent of federal influence.
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act brings the U.S. closer to having a national gun registry
The bill also creates additional restrictions on gun sellers who are not federally licensed, meaning that more gun sellers will be required to opt into federal licensing guidelines. These guidelines necessitate stricter background checks and longer wait periods.
The bill also changes federal licensing guidelines to require more thorough background checks on persons aged 18-21.
While all this seems sensible, requiring background checks creates a de facto registry of people buying weapons. The vast majority of people affected by this registry will not be criminals.
In many ways, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is just a few small steps away from a ban on certain weapons, a national firearm registry, and unfettered government ability to take firearms. These are all things the Founding Fathers would have abhorred and should not be accepted today.
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act does not address the root cause of gun violence and reinforces broken systems
As described above, one of the biggest impacts of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is how it pushes states towards adopting red flag laws. Another aspect of the bill is how it sends funding to schools and states for mental health and policing infrastructure.
The majority of this funding will be used to increase the amount of police in schools through the presence of “school resource officers.” Other funds will be used for existing risk prevention and diversion programs.
The problem with this funding policy is that the funds are simply reinforcing systems that have proven to not work. School resource officers have already been shown to protect students from mass shootings and otherwise lead to an increased risk of students entering the carceral system at a young age.
One notable example of school resource officers failing their duty was during the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting of 2018 in Parkland, Florida. School resource officer Scot Peterson did nothing while the students he was supposed to be protecting were slaughtered.
That shooting is also indicative of the current system’s failures to stop mass shooters before they become mass shooters. Nikolas Cruz, the Stoneman Douglas shooter, was a troubled student whose issues were known to administrators.
Despite ample resources and warnings, Cruz was never taken care of in a way that would have stopped him from committing the atrocity he would go on to commit. The Biden administration has given more money to ineffective school resource officers and administrators around the country.
Furthermore, the social conditions that created someone like Nikolas Cruz cannot be addressed by a simple bill addressing guns. Cruz was an isolated, mentally ill, boy with no one to turn to. As U.S. society continues to demonize young men, the chances of another Nikolas Cruz grow higher and higher with each day.
As long as people like Cruz are out in the world, the people will need guns to protect themselves. Without the ability to protect oneself, criminals will be able to victimize innocent citizens. Biden’s policies on guns bring us closer to this reality.