President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), touted as a significant gun control achievement, is causing concerns among Americans due to its potential impact on gun ownership and safety. While President Biden insists it’s a step in the right direction, some argue that it may not necessarily enhance public safety.
One concerning aspect of the BSCA that has recently come to light is its prohibition on federal funding for “training in the use of a dangerous weapon.” This prohibition extends to activities such as riflery, archery teams, and hunter safety classes in public schools. Given that federal funding typically accounts for around eight percent of education spending, this move effectively spells the end of such programs in public schools. Critics argue that this could be seen as an attempt to erode the culture of legal gun ownership in the United States.
Additionally, the Biden administration is attempting to implement universal background checks through the BSCA. While federal law explicitly prohibits the creation of a federal firearm registry, the administration is using a 108-page set of regulations from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATF) to achieve this goal. These regulations, if enacted, could potentially track virtually everyone who acquires a gun. Furthermore, there are reports of efforts to pressure credit card companies to monitor firearm purchases, which raises concerns about privacy and surveillance.
One significant change in the BSCA is the alteration of language in existing law regarding who qualifies as a “gun dealer.” Previously, individuals were considered gun dealers if they sold firearms “with the principal objective of livelihood and profit.” The BSCA now uses the phrase “predominantly earn a profit,” which could potentially classify a broader range of individuals as gun dealers. For instance, selling a firearm to a friend once and discussing the sale of a second firearm could trigger this classification. This change in language could expand the scope of background checks, potentially leading to a national gun registry.
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Simultaneously, the Biden administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy for paperwork errors is causing difficulties for many firearms dealers. Cases like that of Tom Harris, a disabled father of five from Texas, have gained attention. Harris made minor paperwork mistakes over a decade ago, which were resolved by the BATF under President Barack Obama. However, the Biden administration is revisiting such cases, placing dealers like Harris in legal jeopardy. This policy targets dealers for even unintentional errors, putting their licenses at risk.
The administration argues that universal background checks and a gun registry are essential tools for reducing crime. However, critics point out that such measures might primarily serve the purpose of gun confiscation. They cite examples from countries like Australia, Canada, and the UK where registration was used as a precursor to banning and confiscating firearms. There are also concerns about potential bans on semi-automatic guns, further limiting gun ownership.
Gun control advocates often claim that background checks prevent dangerous individuals from obtaining firearms. Still, there is skepticism about the accuracy of these claims. Approximately 99 percent of denials result in false positives, disproportionately affecting law-abiding individuals from minority communities. Efforts to obtain detailed breakdowns of background check errors have faced obstacles, raising questions about transparency and accountability.
While the BATF has faced legal challenges in its attempts to redefine terms in existing law, the BSCA opens up new avenues for regulations that could have significant consequences for gun ownership and safety. Banning high school shooting teams and creating a comprehensive national gun registry raise concerns about the long-term goals of gun control advocates, with some fearing the erosion of legal gun ownership in the United States.