The Senate Gun Bill Is Terrible

The Senate Gun Bill Is Terrible

Protesters calling for gun-law reform march in downtown St. Louis, June 11.


Jack Myer/Associated Press

When mass shootings such as Uvalde happen, a rallying cry emerges for Congress to do something—anything—to prevent such tragedies in the future. On Tuesday senators introduced the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act—their effort to do something. But when your sole rallying cry is to do something, the thing you do may be worse than the status quo. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is a terrible bill, and in its current form, it ought to be defeated by a bipartisan political coalition of Congress.

Liberals should hate the bill because most of its gun-control provisions are antithetical to their criminal-justice reform agenda. The law expands the categories of those to whom it is unlawful to sell a gun or ammunition to include anyone convicted of a felony as a juvenile. This will ensnare many because the modern definition of a “felony” is exceptionally broad and includes offenses that aren’t particularly serious. The bill also changes the federal prohibition on selling firearms to those who have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution. While it excludes involuntary commitments before age 16, the bill significantly strengthens the enforcement of the prohibition against those involuntarily committed between 16 and 18.

We should be cautious before we make it impossible for children to live normal adult lives. As liberals often point out (particularly when the death penalty is involved), children and teenagers lack maturity and impulse control. If this bill becomes law, a 12-year-old who joyrides in a car may find that he may never be allowed to purchase a gun or ammunition. Although liberals may not cry at the thought of fewer people being able to own guns, they should be concerned. A gun ban for youthful indiscretions means that these juveniles will become unemployable as adults in many security, law-enforcement and military positions that require firearm possession. And this ban…

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