2021 has started with a bang – or not, as the case may be. The Second Amendment has been a long contended issue, and given that Donald Trump was promptly ousted from the White House in January and Joe Biden took the seat, changes to gun laws were bound to come in. Joe Biden held a strong lead over Trump and a careful look at his voter priorities and legislation has given us an indication of what is in store for gun laws this year. There have been plenty of rumors surrounding a blanket ban of gun use in the U.S, but it’s important that we stick to facts and not worry about what-if rumors.
The Biden campaign website had details of their policy goals concerning gun rights and some of the policies included things like banning assault weapons from public use and increasing the federal regulations surrounding firearms. The other policy included expansion of the background check system as it currently isn’t good enough, so they say. Gun policy has been one of the most important issues for voters on the Democratic side with 46% of voters stating that guns are of huge concern to them. This was second only to healthcare. In 2019, when the presidential races were beginning, polls showed that 91% of Democratic voters supported stricter controls surrounding gun laws in general, especially where assault weapons were concerned and in the way that background checks are conducted.
There are some out there that support the banning of guns in their entirety and repealing the Second Amendment as a whole. Now that Biden has come into power, new gun laws are being drawn up. The Democrats unveiled the H.R.8, which is known as the Bipartisan Background Checks Act. This Act enforces stronger background checks and the closing of all loopholes for those who purchase any firearms from unlicensed and illegal sellers. Vendors unlicensed to sell at a gun show will not be allowed to showcase their weaponry any longer. Introducing more gun control legislation has been the jumping off point, especially as the H.R.8 was tabled in March by the Senate in 2020. Most of the measures to be introduced are not yet put into legislative text, but they are being prepared right now to push through harsher measures for gun control violations.
There are a list of bills that are being sponsored and cosponsored to affect the way in which the Second Amendment is interpreted. Given that the Second Amendment was passed in 1791, it’s time for an update to the way that it’s viewed to keep people safe. Guns will not yet be banned in their entirety, but gun users will need to pass harsher checks and there will be strict measures in place for those who illegally carry. The introduction of H.R.130 occured in the first few days of 2021, and this measure seeks to “requiree the safe storage of firearms and ammunition, and to require the investigation of reports of improper storage of firearms and ammunition.” This law is going to mean a deeper investigation into those who don’t store their guns correctly, as it’s these individuals that put others at risk. With proper storage, there can be fewer accidental shootings – especially in children. Gun owners who are responsible should already be investing in the right storage, so this shouldn’t shock the public.
H.R.127 was also introduced, and this measure is one that looks “To provide for the licensing of firearm and ammunition possession and the registration of firearms, and to prohibit the possession of certain ammunition.” This means that all individuals who have a firearm must be registered properly – which is already in place. You also must have a federal license to be able to buy or possess ammunition along with your firearms. This will help to reduce the number of people buying and keeping their firearms and ammunition illegally. The right to bear arms is still here, but it’s under more control to hopefully reduce the current gun crime levels.
H.R.135 was also introduced, which requires an FBI report to Congress on any firearms transfers. This would “require the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to report to the Congress semiannually on the number of firearms transfers resulting from the failure to complete a background check within 3 business days, and the procedures followed after it is discovered that a firearm transfer has been made to a transferee who is ineligible to receive a firearm.” This would allow the government to track where firearms are coming from and keep an eye on the number of illegal firearms in circulation.
Lastly, H.R.121 was introduced, which is a bill seeking to hire “200 additional Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents and investigators to enforce gun laws.” The public needs to be protected from those who are not using guns in the appropriate way, and with additional agents, gun laws can be enforced and the number of illegal gun issues can be reduced. School shootings have been prevalent in the news, and these shooters need to be stopped. With more agents on the floor, gun laws in place can be properly enforced and tracked to keep the general public safe. There have also been other proposals mentioned for 2021 by Rep. Al Green of Texas, stating that vendors attending gun shows will be required to be licensed firearm dealers. This is H.R.167, and the prohibition of the transfer of a firearm at a gun show by someone who is not licensed by the State as a dealer is going to prevent the circulation of illegal and non-trackable weaponry. The Gun Trafficking Prohibition Act was introduced at the same time, H.R.130: aimed to increase public safety.
The new gun laws for 2021 are brought in to ensure the safety and security of everyone no matter whether they agree with the Second Amendment or not. The Democratic government is not looking to repeal; they are looking to make people feel safer and reduce the rate of gun-related crimes.