Battles over gun control have once again created a partisan crossfire, with Republicans opposing restrictions on gun purchases and limits on guns in public places and events.
Nationally, Congress recently approved two bills to tighten existing rules requiring gun buyers to register their purchases with the federal government.
One bill would require people to buy guns at gun shows, over the internet and in certain private transactions to register their purchase — just as they do in stores. Eight Republicans joined Democrats in support.
The second bill would give federal authorities 10 days to process federal background checks to determine whether someone has a criminal record that would bar them from buying a gun. Currently, sales can proceed if the federal government can’t complete the background check within three days. Two Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the measure.
The measures will likely face tough going in the evenly split Senate.
President Joe Biden in the meantime issued an executive order imposing modest new restrictions. One rule would require serial numbers on the components of so-called “ghost guns,” assembled from a kit. The buyers would also for the first time be subjected to background checks.
Biden also issued an order making stabilizing braces that transform a pistol into a short-barrel rifle subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act.
The president also said he would require the Justice Department to publish model “red flag” legislation for states to follow if they chose — although it would take an act of Congress to adopt such a law nationally. A red flag law makes it easier for police or a judge to temporarily confiscate the gun of someone deemed a danger to themselves or others — especially in domestic violence cases. The person would still be entitled to a full court hearing to make the ban on possession of a firearm permanent.
Advocates for the two House-approved bills noted that 30 people in the U.S. die daily in gun violence, plus another 70 people daily who commit suicide using a gun. Each day, current registration requirements prevent 170 felons and 50 people convicted of domestic violence from buying a gun.
Republicans argued the restrictions will simply make it harder for law-abiding citizens to buy a gun — since criminals can always buy a gun on the black market.
Rep. Paul Gosar teamed up with Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith to introduce the Gun-owner Registration Information Protection Act, to prevent cities, states, counties and other organizations from using any federal funding to maintain gun registries. The law comes in response to attempts by some states to require owners to register handguns.
“Another year, another Democratic swipe at the American people’s Second Amendment right,” said Gosar in a press release that blasted the two measures adopted by the House.
“Egregiously, these bills would create a firearm registry database that could be made available to the public, creating the likelihood for discrimination against gun owners. In contrast, this week I was proud to work with Senator Hyde-Smith to introduce the Gun-owner Registration Information Protection (GRIP) Act. Supported by the National Rifle Association, the GRIP Act prohibits the use of federal funding of firearm registry databases that list gun owners who lawfully own or possess firearms,” said Gosar.
Meanwhile, Rep. Brenda Barton — who represents Rim Country and the White Mountains in the Arizona Legislature — served as co-sponsor of HB 2551 to allow people with concealed carry permits to take guns into many places currently banned.
The bill says public facilities and events can only ban guns if they have metal detectors and guards at every entrance. The bill’s based on the assumption that people should be able to carry a gun to protect themselves unless the event or the facility has created a gun-free zone with guards and metal detectors.
The bill does not apply to private businesses or certain places like prisons, courts, prosecutor’s offices, K-12 schools and state hospitals.
However, places like concerts, recreation centers, libraries, city council chambers, government offices, parades, demonstrations and many other venues could no longer prohibit people with permits from carrying guns without an expensive security system.
Other pro-gun laws have also advanced in the Legislature.
That includes HB 2111 that prohibits any state or local official from enforcing any law or regulation that “is inconsistent with any law of this state regarding regulation of firearms.”
Meanwhile, HB 2840 allows for loaded firearms under the control of an adult in a vehicle on school grounds. Existing state and federal law prohibits loaded guns within 1,000 feet of a K-12 school.