President Joe Biden on Saturday signed bipartisan gun control legislation meant to take guns out of the hands of individuals deemed a threat, though critics say that’s a violation of due process rights. The measure also imposes more thorough background checks on buyers under the age of 21.
It does not include a ban on AR-15-style weapons or limit the number of bullets in magazines.
Gun sales reached a five-year high in Connecticut in 2021, the year that the FBI saw the second-highest number of recorded background checks.
According to Mark Oliva, director of public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, there were 21 million background checks for gun sales in 2020 and 18.5 million in 2021, nationwide. Those figures are the top two highest on record.
“Background checks skyrocketed in March 2020, when there were 2.3 million background checks recorded,” Oliva told The Center Square. “That was the most ever recorded in a single month. That, of course, was the beginning of the pandemic lockdowns. People became concerned for their safety when police were warning they would not be able to respond to all emergency calls because they were seeing COVID infections rise.”
The U.S. Capitol Police is running background checks and examining the social media histories of people meeting with lawmakers, Politico reported Monday.
Following the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, the Capitol Police adopted a new policy to dig into the social media feeds of individuals meeting members of Congress, Politico reported, citing three people familiar with the matter as well as internal Capitol Police documents and communications. Targets of the surveillance included congressional staffers as well as lawmakers’ constituents, donors and associates.
Julie Farnam, acting director of intelligence for the Capitol Police and former Department of Homeland Security official, directed analysts to run “background checks” on donors and associates of lawmakers, including instructions to “list and search all political opponents to see if they or their followers intend to attend or disrupt the event,” according to documents reviewed by Politico.
The U.S. background check system prevented over 300,000 gun sales in 2020, a record high, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
Background checks blocked almost double the number of sales in 2020 compared to the year before, with 42% of rejections due to felony convictions, according to FBI data obtained by the AP. The data also shows that the rate of barred would-be gun owners increased from 0.6% to 0.8% over the past two years.
The rate increase could be because a number of people buying guns for the first time did not realize they were unable to purchase a gun, Adam Winkler, a UCLA Law professor specializing in gun policy, told the AP. “Some may have a felony conviction on their record and not think about it,” he said.
Democratic congresswomen from New York and Texas each introduced several pieces of legislation that they say are aimed at curbing gun violence.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who represents New York’s 12th Congressional District, introduced a package of five bills, three of which she also tried to get passed two years ago, shortly before the third anniversary of the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida where 17 people were killed and another 17 injured by a former student.
The FBI ran nearly 8 million background checks for gun purchases from March to June, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Background checks for firearm purchases in June reached 7.8 million, up 136% from last year. Checks for civilians pursuing a license to carry were the highest recorded in the last 20 years, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the WSJ reported.
Historic numbers of background checks to purchase or possess a firearm were done in June, a trend in a year marked by uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic, a subsequent economic recession, protests over racial injustice and calls to reduce police funding.
FBI numbers released Wednesday show that 3.9 million background checks were conducted last month, the most since the system was created in November 1998 to ensure felons and other prohibited people could not buy or possess a firearm. The previous monthly record came in March, when 3.7 million checks were done. Each week in June is now in the top 10 weeks for background checks.
The Minnesota House passed two controversial gun control bills Thursday night after hours of contentious debate.
A Republican lawmaker has asked the Sherburne County Board of Commissioners to declare itself Minnesota’s first “Second Amendment sanctuary county.”
President Donald Trump said he is “all in favor” of requiring background checks for gun purchases during a Wednesday press pool on the White House lawn.