How the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (S. 2938) Impacts Federal Firearm Rights
On Saturday. June 25, 2022, President Biden signed into law S. 2938 or, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. This law amends the existing Gun Control Act which is contained in Title 18 U.S Code § 921-931.
Many of our clients are seeking to restore their firearm rights after losing them due to a criminal conviction. This new amendment does not substantially change most people’s ability to petition for the restoration of their rights. However, the process of restoring a person’s 2nd Amendment rights is a complex legal matter. If you are interested in finding out if you qualify for restoration, please take our eligibility test or contact our firm to learn more about this process.
The new law contains a handful of different changes and additions to the existing Gun Control Act such as expanded background checks for younger buyers and a slightly broader definition of “domestic violence.”
Expanded Background Checks for Potential Purchasers Under 21
The new federal law expands the NICS Background Check process requirements for gun purchasers under the age of 21.
Under the 2022 Act, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is required to take the following steps when a person under 21 attempts to purchase a firearm:
- Immediately contact state criminal history repositories, local law enforcement agencies, and appropriate state custodians of mental health adjudication, to determine whether these records may contain disqualifying evidence.
- NICS then has 3 business days to determine whether these repositories may contain disqualifying juvenile records.
- If NICS does determine that there is cause for further investigation into the applicant’s juvenile record, NICS is given an additional 7 business days to determine whether the applicant is barred from purchasing a firearm on account of their juvenile record.
Prior to this new amendment, the existing Gun Control Act did not contain any special category for potential firearm purchasers under the age 21. S. 2938 makes this new category and substantially expands the time period in which NICS can make decisions about these purchasers. It also expands NICS’s mandate to thoroughly investigate a person’s juvenile criminal and mental health record before a decision is made.
Notably, this part of the law does not change the substantive criteria upon which a person under 21 might be denied purchase of a firearm. Those criteria remain the same as they were in the Gun Control Act. However, the expansion of time limits will likely mean that NICS will have increased ability to investigate, and thereby deny, potential purchasers who might have slipped through previously.
If you are under 21 and interested in finding out if you can restore your firearm rights that you lost as a result of a juvenile or criminal conviction please take our eligibility test or contact our firm to learn more about this process.
Broadened Definition of Domestic Violence
The Lautenberg Amendment to the Gun Control Act was signed into law in September 1996 and made it illegal for a person convicted of any felony or a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence to purchase and/or possess firearms.
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act of 2022 expands the definition of “domestic violence” in the Gun Control Act to include qualifying acts of violence “by a person who has a current or recent former dating relationship with the victim.”
The Act defines “dating relationship” as “a relationship between individuals who have or have recently had a continuing serious relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.”
Even before the Bipartisan Safer Communities act became law, the definition of “domestic violence” in the Gun Control Act was considered very broad as it included offenses committed:
- by a current or former spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim,
- by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common,
- by a person who is cohabiting with or has cohabited with the victim as a spouse, parent, or guardian, or
- by a person similarly situated to a spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim.
It is true that this expansion will likely lead to some people losing their firearm rights as a result of a conviction that falls under this new category. However, most people who have similar offenses were likely already considered to be disqualified under the existing Lautenberg Amendment.
Most importantly, if you have reason to believe that you are prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm because of a criminal conviction, you may qualify for our services that could restore your 2nd Amendment rights. Please take our eligibility test or contact our firm to learn more about this process.