When mass shootings such as Uvalde happen, a rallying cry emerges for Congress to do something—anything—to prevent such tragedies in the future. On Tuesday senators introduced the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act—their effort to do something. But when your sole rallying cry is to do something, the thing you do may be worse than the status quo. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is a terrible bill, and in its current form, it ought to be defeated by a bipartisan political coalition of Congress.
Liberals should hate the bill because most of its gun-control provisions are antithetical to their criminal-justice reform agenda. The law expands the categories of those to whom it is unlawful to sell a gun or ammunition to include anyone convicted of a felony as a juvenile. This will ensnare many because the modern definition of a “felony” is exceptionally broad and includes offenses that aren’t particularly serious. The bill also changes the federal prohibition on selling firearms to those who have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution. While it excludes involuntary commitments before age 16, the bill significantly strengthens the enforcement of the prohibition against those involuntarily committed between 16 and 18.