What’s in US President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Gun Violence Act?

by Barbara R. Abercrombie
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The new law is the most sweeping gun violence law in decades and follows a wave of mass shootings across the United States.

US President Joe Biden has signed the most sweeping gun violence bill in decades, a bipartisan compromise that seemed unthinkable until a recent series of mass shootings.

Referring to the families of the shooting victims he met, the president said, “Their message to us was, ‘Do something.’ How many times have we heard that? ‘Just do something. For God’s sake, do something.’ Today we did that.

“It’s time when it seems impossible to get something done in Washington; we do something consistently.”

Here are some highlights of the bill Biden signed on Saturday:

Extensive background checks:

State and local youth and mental health records of gun buyers will be part of federal background checks for buyers ages 18 to 20. The maximum of three days for data collection is extended to ten days for searching data on young people. If ten days pass without a resolution, the sale will continue.

Boyfriend loophole:

Convicted perpetrators of domestic violence will be denied weapons if they have a current or past “ongoing serious relationship of a romantic or intimate nature” with a victim. An abuser’s right to purchase firearms is restored after five years if no more violent crimes are committed. Guns are currently banned from domestic violence if they are married, living with, or have a child with a victim.

Red Flag Laws:

Federal aid will be given to the 19 states and the District of Columbia, which have laws that help authorities get court orders to remove guns from dangerous people temporarily. Those states will need strong lawsuits to challenge the taking of firearms. Other states could use the money for crisis intervention programs.

Joe Biden

Mental health:

The bill will expand community behavioral health clinics, help states strengthen school mental health programs, and provide more remote mental health consultations.


The bill will increase spending on mental health in school, crisis intervention, violence prevention programs, mental health worker training, and school safety.

Federally Authorized Arms Dealers:

Current law requires people “engaged” in the sale of weapons to be licensed, meaning they must conduct background checks. The bill defines that as selling firearms “mainly to make a profit” to prosecute those who evade that requirement.

Gun smugglers:

The bill will create federal crimes for arms dealers and “straw buyers” who buy guns for people who wouldn’t pass background checks. Such offenders are now mainly prosecuted for paperwork violations. The sentences are up to 25 years in prison.


The impartial Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill’s cost at $13 billion, primarily for mental health care and schools.

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