Joe Biden signs landmark gun safety bill into law, saying it will ‘save a lot of lives’

Bipartisan Safer Communities Act marks first major gun reform bill in three decades

Alex Woodward,Richard Hall
Saturday 25 June 2022 15:57 BST
Biden signs historic gun bill into law on 'monumental day' for US
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President Joe Biden signed into law the first major piece of federal gun reform legislation in three decades on Saturday morning, saying it would “save a lot of lives.”

The historic bill, which includes provisions to help states keep guns out of the hands of those deemed to be a danger to themselves or others, was passed in the Senate in a late-night vote on Thursday following bipartisan talks between Democrats and Republicans, including minority leader Mitch McConnell. It passed in the House by 234-193, including14Republicans voting with Democrats.

"This is a monumental day," Mr Biden said at the White House on 25 June.

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act includes a provision to expand federal background checks so that firearms retailers will be obliged to examine the state and local juvenile and mental health records of prospective customers aged 18 to 20.

It also partially closes a so-called “boyfriend” loophole that adds “serious” dating partners who are convicted of domestic abuse to a list of offenders who would not be able to access firearms, and adds their names to the FBI’s National Instant Background Check System.

The law previously only applied to domestic violence offenders who are married, live with, or have a child with a survivor.

The legislation also funds programmes to encourage states to adopt so-called “red flag laws” that allow law enforcement to obtain court orders to prevent a person who might pose a threat to themselves or others from obtaining a firearm.

The bill, marking the largest gun reform package in Congress since the expiration of an assault-weapons ban in 2004, falls short of what the president and Democrats have demanded in recent decades to curb the proliferation of high-powered weapons in the wake of daily mass shootings and school massacres.

Members of Congress negotiated the terms of the bill following the racist killings of 10 Black people inside a supermarket in Buffalo, New York and the massacre of 19 schoolchildren and two fourth-grade teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

“While this bill doesn’t do everything I want, it does include actions I’ve long called for that are going to save lives,” the president said. “Today, we say more than ‘enough.’ ... This time, when it seems impossible to get anything done in Washington, we are doing something consequential.”

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