This week the US Senate saw the introduction of new legislation that proposes to add minor attempts at gun law reform. Currently there appears to be some bipartisan support for the bill.
The bill would strengthen background checks for those under 21. It would give authorities up to 10 days to preform such reviews.
This period could be used to look through the mental health and juvenile records of individuals 18 to 20 years of age looking to purchase firearms.
Under the proposed law, “red-flag” laws might also be strengthened (but likely only in blue states). $750 million, over the next 5 years, would be provided to assist states that wish to enforce such laws.
“Red-flag” laws are supposed to ensure that people that may harm people with a gun are not allowed to do so, This may be through suicide, a way in which around 24,000 people end their lives in the US every year, or through preventing people that might use guns to use them for violence against others from obtaining weapons.
Another section of the bill also seeks to end the “boyfriend loophole” This loophole refers to the fact that while some domestic abusers are barred from purchasing firearms, there are work arounds in many states that still allow those in dating relationships to purchase guns, this bill would expand the parameters of who would be barred from firearm ownership because of domestic violence.
Currently the federal law regarding baring domestic abusers from obtaining guns only applies to those that are living or have had a child together. Under the expansion, anyone who is or was in a “relationship between individuals who have or have recently had a continuing serious relationship of a romantic or intimate nature,” will be covered.
While anyone who is violent, in any manner besides self defense, should be banned from freely purchasing firearms, it is at least an expansion of the definition. The law would also expand restrictions in another sense.
“Straw” purchases would likewise be more strictly enforced. “Straw” purchases are when someone purchases something they should not illegally own via an intermediary. For example, someone convicted of a felony who has a friend buy a gun for them.
Those that are convicted of “straw” purchases in the future, if this law is passed, could face up to 15 years in prison along with a hefty fine.
The bill would also push forward some mental health care funding. $15 billion is proposed to broaden resources, such as local mental health centers and telehealth opportunities. While this seems like a decent chunk of change, in 2019 mental health expenditures in America were well over $200 billion.
This funding is planned to be paid for by delaying a Medicate drug-rebate plan through a one year delay (which seems like it could also hurt a lot of people’s mental and physical health). While mental health should be prioritized in America, perhaps the issue could just be solved by passing a comprehensive government funded health care program like every other developed nation in the world?
Multiple billion dollars from the bill would also be aimed at “boosting school safety,” (whatever that means). Some would be mental health based, others would provide training to students and school personnel.
While this would be legislation that would be the first of its kind since the Church of England ordained its first female priests, in 1994, it is not revolutionary. Hopefully it will reduce homicides, if it is even passed. Currently only 10 republicans, mostly those that are retiring (as those are the only ones that ever “reach across the aisle”), are willing to support legislation that will benefit those living in America.
Gun control in America is an incredibly complex issue, however, doing things that are far more popular than anyone who is in elected office in America, like background checks for all gun buyers is simply common sense. However, the American system is not common sense because while the US tax payers pay politicians salaries, monied interests, like the NRA, pay much bigger “campaign contributions” (read bribes). This corruption is similarly seen via the fact that the US system is seen as corrupt by nearly everyone that lives there, and the seeming inability to pass nearly anything of substance, or much that is broadly supported.
Gun legislation is immensely important as the US must end such preventable deaths. But America also needs to pass legislation to get ranked-choice voting and money out of politics to ensure that the system doesn’t continue to willingly flaunt the will of the people.