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The Senate Gun Bill Is Terrible

When mass shootings like Uvalde occur, 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 about it. But when your only rallying cry is to do something, the thing you’re doing can be worse than the status quo. The bipartisan Safer Communities Act is a terrible bill, and in its current form should be defeated by a bipartisan political coalition in Congress.

The Liberals should hate the bill because most of its gun control provisions run counter to their criminal justice reform agenda. The law expands the categories of people to whom it is illegal to sell a firearm or ammunition to include anyone convicted of a crime as a minor. This will trap many because the modern definition of a “crime” is exceptionally broad and includes offenses that are not particularly serious. The bill also changes the federal ban on selling firearms to those who have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution. While it excludes involuntary commitments before the age of 16, the bill considerably strengthens the application of the prohibition against those committed involuntarily between the ages of 16 and 18.