By George Miller
Update 6-23- Senate passed today 65-33- on to House. Final bill text unknown to us. Meanwhile, the House is trying to pass its own, more stringent gun control bill.
Riding the wave of outrage over the Uvalde and Buffalo mass shootings, the controversial proposed US Senate “Bipartisan Safer Communities Act” gun control bill discussion draft was rapidly voted into its next step of passage. The text has finally found its way into the public domain:
This 80 page, wide-ranging document is labeled “discussion draft” and did not even have a bill number. Per Alexander Bolton, writing in The Hill on 6-21-22, “The Senate voted to proceed to the bill just more than an hour after negotiators unveiled its text, giving lawmakers little time to digest its details.”
!4 GOP and all Dem Senators voted to advance the bill to the next stage. Republicans:
Toomey- PA- didn’t vote for it but provided a written statement of support for it.
Unless some of them can be rapidly persuaded to reverse course, this bill will likely be passed this week and sent to the House, where leadership has vowed to move it through quickly and the President to sign it into law.
What’s in it?
This is the biggest federal gun control effort with a high chance of success in decades. Without getting into a whole lot of detail, there are several main parts of the bill revealed in this document:
- It federalizes and expands red flag laws in an attempt prevent acquisition/possession of guns by people believed to be high risk, which could include expanded categories of people with a history of mental/emotional problems, those accused of domestic violence, terrorist leanings and more and expedited methods of blocking them. Some of these provisions are thought by rights advocates to shortcut constitutional rights, although there is some “due process” language in the bill. Advocates say the bill would help to preserve constitutional rights of potential victims.
- It provides very large grants for “mental health services”. Some of the verbiage is rather vague. Example:
“(5) Strategies to promote the delivery of accessible and culturally competent care via telehealth, including addressing the needs of individuals with disabilities, medically underserved urban and rural communities, racial and ethnic minorities such as American Indians and Alaska Natives, individuals with limited English proficiency, and individuals of …” . It’s unclear how some of this would reduce gun violence. As written, the money might be used for other purposes.
- Juvenile offenses/mental health problems info would be sent to the database for gun sale background checks:
“(a) IMPROVING NICS EXAMINATION OF JUVENILE RECORDS.—”
- Early demands were dropped for banning many semi-automatic rifles, dubbed “assault weapons” by their opponents and “high-capacity” magazines (more than 10 rounds).
- At least $1.5 billion in funding is included. There are provisions for monitoring and review, but their definition and the specifics of what is being contemplated are rather vague for such a large, new and controversial program. New felonies with long prison terms are proposed. Would these all be handled by FBI/DOJ/federal court system? Unclear. Some money is earmarked for states, to be administered by federal agencies. Some funding is a financial incentive for states to comply and is described as a “bribe” by bill opponents.
- It is questionable whether much of this is legally a province of federal law and not states’ responsibilities.
We will further study this bill, as it morphs during the process, but the deliberately fast and secretive track forced by majority leadership and lagging data may not allow us to do this before it’s a done deal.
As of last night, we read that 14 Republicans voted for it and all Democrats. Democrats point to this as ‘bipartisan” support, while Conservatives rush to convince several supporters to back down to stop this.
Gun rights groups are saying that Republican Senators supporting the bill should hear your opinions on it.
The NRA statement on the bill:
The NRA will support legislation that improves school security, promotes mental health services, and helps reduce violent crime. However, we will oppose this gun control legislation because it falls short at every level. It does little to truly address violent crime while opening the door to unnecessary burdens on the exercise of Second Amendment freedom by law-abiding gun owners.
This legislation can be abused to restrict lawful gun purchases, infringe upon the rights of law-abiding Americans, and use federal dollars to fund gun control measures being adopted by state and local politicians. This bill leaves too much discretion in the hands of government officials and also contains undefined and overbroad provisions – inviting interference with our constitutional freedoms.
Decisions by the Supreme Court of the United States in the Heller and McDonald cases make clear that the Second Amendment is an individual constitutional freedom. We will always fight for those freedoms – and the fundamental values we have defended for over 150 years.
Conservative news/commentary site Red State highlighted several points they thought to be highly objectionable in this article.
What’s behind it?
Since the Texas and Buffalo mass shootings, leftist forces, via the Democratic Party, national/international NGO’s and some corporate interests, have made a major push for more stringent gun control, which they view as the solution to the wave of violence building in the nation.
In the last decade, “blue states” passed a wave of gun control bills. Some “red” states passed loosened carry and “castle laws.”
According to FBI statistics, the great majority of US shooting deaths are suicides and accidental shootings. Shooting homicides hit a high in 1992 and fell by about half until about 2015, when they began increasing. Why is a point of disagreement.
Gun control laws have tightened in more states than have been loosened. Generally speaking, the shooting death rate is higher in large, Democrat-run cities, which tend to be areas with the most stringent gun control. Civil unrest, including the staged ANTIFA/BLM riots, have led to increased violence, arson, theft and murder rates, including unprecedented increases in attacks on police.
While the anti-gun forces mostly say that they don’t want to end the Second Amendment, some admit that they do and that this bill is just one step, as evidence occasionally proves. Anti-gun forces incorrectly maintain that only the US has this problem. A future article may deal with this in more depth.
Conservatives have long insisted that guns aren’t the problem, but mental health, ideology and societal moral breakdown are. They may get some of what they wish for this time, since much of the bill focuses on mental behavior, gun trafficking and terrorism. Addressing societal moral breakdown is notably absent from the bill.
The mass shooters have very different demographic/psychological profiles than the bulk of shooters, who account for the vast majority of victims. Sometimes, more people are killed weekly in Chicago alone than in both of the recent publicized events in TX and NY.
George Miller is Publisher and Co-Founder of Citizens Journal Florida, based in Fernandina Beach. He is a “retired” operations management consultant, software and publishing executive and manufacturing management professional