What the Historic New Gun Safety Law Does

Despite the NRA’s opposition, the new bipartisan law does many of the things gun safety advocates have wanted for decades—without stepping on the Second Amendment.

Tara Haelle

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Photo by steve woods on Unsplash

It’s been a heavy couple of weeks in the news — the Uvalde mass shooting and the fallout from the atrocious response to it, rising COVID cases, monkeypox continuing to spread, several dozen immigrants dying in an overheated truck in San Antonio, and a string of Supreme Court cases that have returned women to second class citizens with the fall of Roe, expanded gun rights even in dense cities, allowed teachers and coaches to lead prayers at public school, and now begun dismantling the regulatory state used to promote public health and safety and fight global warming…

Wouldn’t it be nice to hear some good news for a change? Fortunately, there was some good news — a positive, if surprising and unlikely, development that you may have missed in the onslaught of bad news. Congress managed to pass a bipartisan gun safety bill — yes, actually bipartisan! — with a variety of measures that will likely save lives. I admit I was surprised to learn one of my own senators, the very conservative Texas Senator John Cornyn, played a significant role in getting the legislation passed. It’s the first major gun safety legislation passed by Congress in almost three decades, and Biden signed it into law Saturday.

The new law doesn’t do any of the boogeyman measures the NRA always threatens will happen in its ongoing campaign to frighten gun owners into buying more guns. Yet the NRA still opposed the bill because of course they did. Despite their opposition, in looking at what the bill does, it’s hard to imagine what part of it any reasonable person would oppose. So let’s have a look at what it does (and what it doesn’t).

First, what it doesn’t do: it doesn’t restrict any type of firearm or firearm part at all — no AR-15 bans or magazine limitations or anything like that, which undoubtedly wouldn’t have garnered Republican support. It also doesn’t restrict Second Amendment rights in any way that a reasonable person would oppose (unless you think people should have a gun even if they have a documented history of violence or…

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Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle is a science journalist, public speaker, and author of Vaccination Investigation and The Informed Parent. Follow her at @tarahaelle.