Welcome to a weekly series here on Pew Pew Tactical dedicated to the gun news you need to know.
So, keep reading for this week’s notable news headlines…
Table of Contents
Congress Passes Bipartisan Gun Bill, Next Step Biden
A bipartisan gun bill passed by the House and Senate late this week heads to President Biden’s desk for signature.
Dubbed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the 80-page bill gained the support of Democrats and some Republicans – 14, specifically, in the lower chamber.
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act grants billions of dollars towards mental health services and strengthening school security, provides $750 million in grants to encourage states to institute red flag laws, closes the “boyfriend loophole,” and enhances background checks for gun buyers under 21 years of age.
It also provides better clarity on the definition of a Federally Licensed Firearms Dealer and creates harsher penalties for straw purchases.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation issued a statement the night before the bill passed urging lawmakers to continue negotiations.
“There are several provisions of this legislative package that NSSF could support including providing more resources for mental health services and school security,” Joseph Bartozzi, NSSF President and Chief Executive Officer, said in a statement.
“However, the ambiguity over state records, the lack of clear definitions, and unaddressed due process concerns prevent us from supporting this legislative package as presented.”
Ultimately, the Senate passed the bill 65-33 late Thursday, with the House passing it 234-193 Friday.
“Tonight, after 28 years of inaction, bipartisan members of Congress came together to heed the call of families across the country and passed legislation to address the scourge of gun violence in our communities,” Biden said in a statement released after the Senate vote.
“Families in Uvalde and Buffalo – and too many tragic shootings before – have demanded action. And tonight, we acted. This bipartisan legislation will help protect Americans. Kids in schools and communities will be safer because of it.”
The White House told CNN the President will sign the bill.
White House May Halt Consumer Ammo Sales from Lake City Plant
The Biden Administration may curb the sale of ammunition and excess supplies out of its Lake City Army Ammunition Plant.
Owned by the government, the plant is actually operated by Winchester and acts as one of the largest producers of M855/SS109 ammo.
The federal government has previously allowed the sale of excess XM855 and XM193 ammo — in fact, the plant supplies 30% of the nation’s 5.56mm ammunition.
But that could change in the future.
“Winchester was informed that the government is considering restricting the manufacturing and commercial sale of legal ammunition produced at the Lake City, Mo., facility,” Mark Oliva, a spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told The Federalist.
After rumors began circulating, 50 Congress members shot off a letter to the Biden Administration laying out the implications of ending consumer sales. Chief among those concerns is worsening an already difficult ammunition market.
“The decision will exacerbate an already serious shortage of ammunition in the commercial market currently facing law-abiding gun owners,” the letter explained.
“Severely limiting the commercially available 5.56mm ammunition, which is most popularly used in modern sporting rifles (MSRs), is effectively a politically sanctioned semi-automatic rifle ban. This blatantly infringes on the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution by limiting law-abiding gun owners’ ability to legally purchase or use lawful semi-automatic rifles.”
Oliva told The Federalist that a prohibition of sales at any point could have severe consequences.
“It risks the ammunition industry’s ability to surge production capacity for national defense if the costs to maintain the present workforce isn’t recouped through sales to the civilian market,” Oliva told the publication.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates posted on Twitter Monday that the Biden Administration is not planning to close the plant or halt sales of current ammunition.
But he didn’t rule out the possibility of limiting or ending sales in the future.
“The administration is not going to restrict production/sales of excess ammunition currently available for sale to the public (including M855 and SS109) at Lake City Army Ammunition Plant.”
Rhode Island Passes Sweeping Gun Control Laws
A set of gun laws came to Rhode Island as the state passed three gun control measures aimed at reducing gun violence.
Gov. Dan McKee signed the trio of bills that ban high-capacity mags, prevent loading of shotguns and rifles in public, and increase the age to purchase firearms and ammo from 18 to 21.
“As Governor, I am proud to sign a legislative package that will ban high-capacity magazines, raise the legal age to purchase firearms to 21 and prohibit the open carry of a rifle or shotgun in public,” McKee said at the signing ceremony.
“My deepest thanks go out to the legislative sponsors and the thousands of advocates who stepped up and got the work done.”
Under the new measures, gun owners who already own large-capacity magazines will have 180 days to surrender them to police, sell them to out-of-state buyers, or bring them into compliance by permanently altering them.
Both military personnel and law enforcement are exempt from the mag ban.
“The bill is drastic with no grandfathering and forces gun owners to get rid of any magazines capable of holding over 10 rounds or become a felon and lose your firearms for life,” The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action said in a statement.
In addition to capping mags, the measures also target rifles and shotguns by preventing the loading of either in public – except in hunting situations.
“The bill essentially says your gun can only be loaded in your home with narrow hunting exceptions. That is a significant attack on your right to self-defense,” the NRA explained.
Guns.com reports that FBI stats for 2019 indicate the state saw 25 homicides with known weapons – none committed with a rifle or shotgun.
Can Wisconsin Schools Ban Gun Imagery on T-Shirts? A Federal Appeals Court Weighs In
A Federal Appeals Court took on a gun case surrounding gun images on t-shirts, ultimately sending the case back to the lower court for reconsideration.
The case centers on a group of Wisconsin high school and middle students who say their First Amendment rights were violated because they supported the Second Amendment.
After being told to cover the shirts, the students sued their principals.
In 2021, U.S. District Judge William Griesbach agreed with the principals, supporting the dress code that banned the images.
But a U.S. Court of Appeals review concluded Griesbach’s decision “applied the wrong legal standard.” Thus, the appeals court sent the decision back to Griesbach for reconsideration.
Using the 1969 Supreme Court ruling on Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community Student District as its backing – which ruled students could wear a black armband to peacefully protest the Vietnam War — the appellate court argued that to ban imagery, it must cause a “substantial disruption.”
In the case of the Wisconsin students, a three-judge panel ruled that a disruption must constitute more than a “mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint.”
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