More than 500 people have been charged with federal crimes under the gun safety law Biden signed | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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More than 500 people have been charged with federal crimes under the gun safety law Biden signed

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 500 people — some linked to transnational cartels and organized crime rings — have been charged with gun trafficking and other crimes under the landmark gun safety legislation President Joe Biden signed two years ago Tuesday.

A White House report obtained by The Associated Press on the implementation of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act also said that enhanced background checks under the new law have stopped roughly 800 sales of firearms to people under age 21 who would be prohibited from buying them.

It highlights that 14 states are using or planning to use funding from the legislation to make better use of red flag laws, which allow law enforcement to remove weapons from people in crisis but are often underused or not well understood. And the report lays out how $85 million in funding has been awarded to 125 school districts across 18 states to help identify students who need mental health care and help them access it.

“It was designed to reduce gun violence and save lives,” Biden said recently of the law. “And I’m so proud of the tremendous progress we’ve made since then.”

The bill was a signature achievement for the Democratic president, and the particulars on how it has been implemented come as he seeks reelection in November. But Biden is also quick to say the law didn't go far enough, as he continues to push for stricter background checks and has called for a ban on assault weapons.

Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump, meanwhile, has promised no new gun regulations if he returns to the White House.

Trump has spoken twice this year at National Rifle Association events and was endorsed by the group in May. The former president has claimed that Biden “has a 40-year record of trying to rip firearms out of the hands of law-abiding citizens.” His campaign and the Republican National Committee also announced the creation of a Gun Owners for Trump coalition that includes gun rights activists and those who work in the firearms industry.

Biden created the first-ever White House office of gun violence prevention and issued new rules that mean tens of thousands more firearms dealers across the United States will have to run background checks on buyers at gun shows or other places outside brick-and-mortar stores. He's also pushed to make firearms storage safer.

Biden’s campaign believes gun control is a motivating issue for voters, in particular suburban college-educated women who may be decisive in several key battlegrounds this fall. Biden's campaign and allies have circulated clips of Trump saying, “We have to get over it,” after an Iowa school shooting in January and then telling NRA members in May that he “did nothing” on guns during his presidency.

About 7 in 10 suburban college-educated women who voted in the 2022 midterm elections supported stricter gun control laws, although fewer than 1 in 10 named it as the top problem facing the country, according to AP VoteCast, a wide-ranging survey of voters.

Violent crime dropped in 2023, reversing a coronavirus pandemic-era spike, but firearms are the No. 1 killer of children in the U.S., according to research from the American Academy of Pediatrics. So far this year, 110 children younger than 11 have died by guns, and 566 between the ages of 12 and 17 have died. The number of children and teenagers killed by gunfire in the U.S. increased 50% between 2019 and 2021, according to the Pew Research Center.

And there have been 12 mass killings by firearms in 2024, according to data tracked by the AP. A mass killing is defined as an attack in which four or more people have died, not including the perpetrator, within 24 hours. The U.S. surgeon general on Tuesday declared gun violence a public health crisis, driven by the fast-growing number of injuries and deaths involving firearms in the country.

Efforts to control guns are often stymied by the courts. The conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court last year expanded gun rights and changed the way courts are supposed to evaluate restrictions on firearms. It recently overturned a Trump-era ban on bump stocks, the rapid-fire gun accessories used in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

But late last week, the court upheld a gun control law intended to protect victims of domestic violence. The case had been closely watched for its potential to affect cases in which other gun ownership laws have been called into question, including the prosecution of Hunter Biden. The president's son was convicted of lying on a form to buy a firearm while he was addicted to drugs, and his lawyers have signaled they will appeal.

President Biden signed the gun safety legislation on June 25, 2022, a bipartisan compromise forged following a series of mass shootings, including the massacre of 19 students and two teachers at a Texas elementary school.

The federal cases prosecuted under the new law include a defendant sentenced to 23 years in prison for trafficking guns in gang-related shootings and another who got two years for running an illegal gun trafficking enterprise.

In March, five men were arrested in Texas on charges of trafficking military-grade weapons headed for a drug cartel in Mexico. The charges include gun trafficking and straw purchases, in which a gun is bought by one person on behalf of another who is legally unable to make the purchase. Hundreds of illegal firearms were pulled off the streets.

The Biden administration has also funded nearly 80 organizations nationwide using $250 million from the legislation and other appropriations to expand community violence intervention initiatives, according to the implementation report.

News from © The Associated Press, 2024
The Associated Press

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