Congress passes bipartisan gun control bill, community speaks out

·3 min read

Community members and local gun store owners are weighing in about the bipartisan gun legislation that is awaiting the signature of President Biden.

Congress passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act on Friday and leaders say it’s the first major gun safety legislation since the 1990s.

The bill was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate Thursday night 65-33.

RELATED: Gun safety bill: Senate, House pass first gun legislation in decades; here’s what’s in it

Action News Jax stopped by U.S. Patriot Firearms, a local gun shop.

Co-owners Shannon Martin and Al Panti are 20-year military veterans. They took over as owners of the shop last August.

“I think there’s plenty of laws,” Martin said. “There need to be stricter penalties for these crimes.”

Panti shared his thoughts:

“They want to take guns away for people getting killed. It is not the guns. It’s the people,” Panti said.

The bill strengthens background checks for gun buyers under the age of 21.

It gives resources to states to create “red flag laws” to take guns away from people who could be a significant danger to themselves or others.

It closes the “boyfriend loophole” to prevent convicted domestic abusers from purchasing a firearm for five years.

“I’m not against people having guns, but I’m against people having guns that are too young,” one woman told Action News Jax.

This legislation comes after recent mass shootings have gripped the nation. That includes the small city of Uvalde, Texas where 19 children and two adults were killed.

The bill gives billions of dollars for mental health programs and school security.

It also gives $750 million in grants to incentivize states to implement crisis intervention programs, clarifies the definition of a federally licensed firearms dealer, and creates criminal penalties for straw purchases and gun trafficking.

“The kids that kill these people, the gun laws aren’t going to stop them,” Jacksonville resident Paul Simmons said.

Florida is one of only a handful of states that has increased the minimum purchase age for long guns to 21.

“Nobody needs an AR-15 unless you’re at war,” one resident said. “You want to go over to Ukraine, okay, fine. But it does not belong on the streets here in the United States.”

“If we’re going to allow our military to buy long guns and shotguns at the age of 18 and we send them overseas to fight battles and they’re dead at 19 and carrying a pistol, why can’t they be allowed to carry a pistol at age 18?” Panti said.

The next step is a signature that’s needed by President Biden.

“I said I do solemnly swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, and that’s what I did,” Panti said. “So it never ends for us till I die. So I am going to do what can to keep our guns and keep our laws.


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