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Buffalo & Uvalde Mass Shootings Spur Bipartisan Gun Bill

President Joe Biden signed into law a bipartisan gun bill less than two months after a shooter killed 10 people in Buffalo, NY, and one month after 19 were killed in Uvalde, TX.

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is hailed as a victory by some and as government overreach by others. Some gun control advocates are unhappy because they think the law does not do nearly enough to address gun violence. Despite the bipartisan approval of the bill, people in Wisconsin and around the country are sharply divided over the issue. Sens. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.) and John Cornyn (R., Texas) sponsored the bill.

At the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella, we stay fully updated on all laws – local, state, and federal – that can impact our representation of clients facing weapons violations, federal gun offenses, and violent crimes involving weapons.

New Federal Straw Purchasing, Trafficking Offenses

The act makes it a serious crime for an individual to buy a gun for someone else – a straw purchase – when they know that person is not allowed to possess a gun, or they know the person plans to use the gun to commit a felony. Law enforcement can now go after every link in the purchase chain, not only the person making the purchase. This change allows prosecutors to target dangerous illegal gunrunners. Penalties are enhanced when straw-purchased firearms are used in connection with serious criminal activity like terrorism or drug trafficking.

The federal focus has been on prosecuting firearm trafficking into the U.S. Now, federal authorities will also go after anyone trafficking guns out of the country. Firearms trafficked out of the U.S. are used to commit violent crimes in Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.  

Background Checks for Buyers Under the Age of 21

The legislation expands background checks for anyone under the age of 21 to buy a gun. Authorities must review the mental health histories and juvenile records of all prospective buyers between the ages of 18 and 20. This includes checks for past felonies or domestic violence. Previously the law prevented juvenile reports from being accessed for background checks. Authorities are given up to 10 days to evaluate each applicant and identify anything that would disqualify them.

The bill provides $200 million in grants to support state records departments to upload records into the background-check system. This expansion of background checks is set to expire in 10 years when it must be renewed to remain active.

Closing the ‘Boyfriend Loophole’

Federal law already prevents individuals from possessing a gun if they have been convicted of domestic violence or are under a restraining order – but only if the person had lived with the person they abused. This legislation now confiscates the guns of individuals convicted of dating violence or who have conceived children together.

Anyone convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence in a dating relationship will also have their names added to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), preventing them from purchasing or possessing a firearm. That person will be removed from the NICS database five years after the completion of the sentence if no other crimes of violence are committed.

Funding for State Crisis Intervention Orders

States have access to $750 million to create and administer laws that have sufficient due process protections that help ensure individuals whom a court determines are a significant danger to themselves or others cannot buy a deadly weapon.

Other provisions in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act include the following:

  • Invest $250 million in community violence intervention and prevention initiatives
  • Expand access to community and school-based behavioral health services for children and families
  • Provide $250 million for Community Mental Health Services Block grants to expand access to mental health care
  • Train school personnel and others who interact with school-age children to detect and respond to mental health issues
  • Fund more mental health service providers in our schools
  • Implement a 9-8-8 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
  • $1 billion to help schools implement comprehensive strategies to create safe and healthy learning environments for all students

What the New Gun Bill Does Not Do

A few key measures not included in the bill included:

  • An all-out ban on assault weapons
  • A ban on high-capacity magazines
  • Increasing the age requirement to purchase an assault weapon from 18 to 21

Quality Legal Representation for Gun Violations

Gun violations range from misdemeanors to serious felonies, but all crimes of all degrees live on your criminal record. Call on Attorney Cherella to provide you with the experienced representation you need when facing criminal charges in the Milwaukee area.

Contact us online or call (414) 882-8382 24/7 for legal advice and support.