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Washington — US President Joe Biden on Saturday signed into law the first major federal gun reform in three decades, days after a decision he condemned by the Supreme Court expanding firearm owners’ rights.
“God willing, it’s going to save a lot of lives,” Biden said at the White House after signing the bill.
The bipartisan bill came together just weeks after mass shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo that killed more than 30 people, including 19 children at an elementary school.
The law includes provisions to help states keep guns out of the hands of those deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.
The reform came the same week as the Supreme Court expanded gun owners’ rights, saying on Thursday for the first time that the US constitution protects an individual’s ability to carry a handgun in public for self-defence.
“The Supreme Court has made some terrible decisions,” Biden told reporters after that ruling, and another on Friday that eliminated the federally mandated right to abortion.
Gun control has long been a divisive issue in the nation, with several attempts to put new controls on gun sales failing.
Biden, who is looking to improve sagging public approval ratings ahead of November 8 midterm elections for control of Congress, made securing victories on gun control a part of his campaign pitch to voters.
The new law blocks gun sales to those convicted of abusing unmarried intimate partners and cracks down on gun sales to purchasers convicted of domestic violence. It also provides new federal funding to states that administer “red flag” laws intended to remove guns from people deemed dangerous to themselves and others.
It does not ban sales of assault-style rifles or high-capacity magazines. But it does take some steps on background checks by allowing access, for the first time, to information on significant crimes committed by juveniles.
“At this time when it seems impossible to get anything done in Washington, we are doing something consequential. If we can reach compromise on guns, we ought to be able to reach compromise on other critical issues,” Biden said before travelling to Germany for the Group of Seven summit.
“I know there’s much more work to do, and I’m never going to give up. But this is a monumental day.”
He said he will host families of gun violence victims at a White House event on July 11 to mark the passage of the gun safety law.
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Published by Arena Holdings and distributed with the Financial Mail on the last Thursday of every month except December and January.