Most of the country’s U.S. Representatives are currently working on a new COVID-19 relief bill, but they also have other bills which are currently making their way through the U.S. House of Representatives.
One such bill is House Resolution 5717, named the Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act of 2020. HR 5717 was sponsored by Representative Henry C. “Hank” Johnson Jr., D-Georgia. The bill was introduced to the house and immediately referred to subcommittee on crime, terrorism and Homeland Security.
The reasoning this bill was drafted is, according to the bill’s language, “to end the epidemic of gun violence and build safer communities by strengthening federal firearms laws and supporting gun violence research, intervention and prevention initiatives.” One of the first ways the bill intends to do that is by establishing the requirement of a “federal firearm owner’s license” to gun owners over the age of 21 who have completed firearm training, passed a written and hands-on test and has submitted to a background check.
The bill also would prohibit straw purchasing, or purchasing guns on behalf of someone else. Those who violate this prohibition could face up to 2 years in prison, fines and have their license revoked. Along with increasing regulations upon gun ownership, the bill looks to track the production of guns as well.
One of the regulations states “any firearm manufactured after the effective date [after bill is enacted] shall be legibly and conspicuously engraved or cast with the date on which the firearm was manufactured.” Those who have licenses we have their background investigations reviewed “not less frequently than annually” in order to “ensure the individual is not prohibited from possessing a firearm.
Another change to the background check system the bill would make is an extension on the waiting period, from 3 days to 7 days and would require denials be reported to authorities. HR 5717 also introduces stalking as a kind of “intimate partner violence,” and defines an ‘extreme risk protection order’ as a written order that prohibits individual named in the order “from having under the custody or control of the individual purchasing, possessing, or receiving firearm or ammo” and would require the removal of any firearm or ammo the individual currently has in their possession.
In order to be listed as a “prohibited individual” or someone who is “categorically ineligible to receive a covered license,” many factors are to be considered when placing the limitations such as, but not limited to: criminal history, age, outstanding arrest warrants or whether or not they could be considered a danger to themselves or others. The bill would also increase the minimum age for purchasing firearms and ammo from 18 to 21.
It would become unlawful to store or keep any firearm “on premises of residence under control of a person” if they know a minor is likely to gain access to firearm without permission of parent or guardian, or a resident of residence is ineligible to possess a firearm under Federal, State or Local law and could face up to $500 civil penalty per violation. HR 5717 would establish consumer product safety standards for firearm locks and safes and extend gunfree school zones act to include colleges and universities. Funds would be distributed to train judges, court personnel and law enforcement officers to “more accurately identify individuals whose access to firearms poses a danger to themselves or others.”
The bill then defines “semi-automatic assault weapons” as a semi-automatic rifle that has capacity to accept a detachable magazine and one of the following, but not limited to: pistol or forward grip, folding, telescoping or detachable stock, grenade launcher or barrel shroud.
Along with a ban on untraceable or undetectable firearms, these types of weapons would become illegal to own or produce. The above does not apply to any firearm “manually operated by bolt, pump lever or slide action, has been rendered inoperable” or is an antique firearm. It would enact the use of Byrne Grants for buy-back programs for semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity ammo feeding devices.
With the aforementioned bans there also would be a prohibition on possession of certain firearm accessories, like silencers and mufflers. Firearm trafficking, both the sale and purchase of multiple firearms would become illegal. The bill would increase penalties for making “knowingly false statements in connection with firearms,” and gun shop security measures.
In order to increase safety around gun ownership, the bill plans to “repeal exclusion of pistols, revolvers and other firearms from consumer product safety laws,” increase excise taxes, and impose a tax on guns and ammunition. The suggested tax at time of print is a 30-percent tax on guns and a 50-percent tax on the purchase of ammunition. The funds from the new taxes would be used for gun violence prevention and research and to implement research and community violence intervention programs.
The previously mentioned changes in law would take effect 2 years after the date of enactment of HR 5717, and still would need to pass both the house and U.S. Senate before it reached the President’s desk to be signed into legislation. The bill was introduced into the house January 30, 2020. A list of guns that would be restricted can be found with the rest of HR 5717 at congress.gov/116th-congress/house-bill/5717/text.