Former Alabama U.S. Attorney reacts to President Biden’s new gun reform laws

Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 12:43 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Former U.S. Attorney Jay Town said President Biden’s new gun laws are overall positive and could help make a difference in violent crime statewide, but adds it could be a while before data shows the drop.

“There is a lot of things in this bill that we can walk away from and say ‘hey. we can feel safer’,” Town said. “There’s not going to be any big swing that is going to knock out 95% of the violent crime in this country. That’s just not how criminality works, but little by little, we can make a dent in it.”

One big takeaway for Town is the changes to background checks for 18 to 21 year old gun buyers.

“If this law had been in place, it’s very possible that Salvador Ramos in Uvalde, Texas would not have been able to purchase two AR-15s,” Town said.

That’s because the new law expands background checks for 18 to 21 year old gun buyers. Before, it was only checking history from 18 and up, but now it checks back to age 16.

“I think that any record after the age of 18 was not enough, not extensive enough for background checks,” he said. “The fact that we have the ability to run background checks on individuals that we previously were not able to run background checks on, I think is very important.”

Federal law now says domestic violence charges against two dating partners is enough to stop gun buyers for legally getting a weapon. Before the new changes, someone only qualified if they had DV charges against their spouse, or had lived together or shared a child. Now, federal law also prohibits charges against just dating couples.

“Taking firearms out of the hands of violent individuals is always going to be a good thing,” Town said.

The new federal legislation includes incentives for states to pass red flag criteria. It would allow groups to petition the court to remove guns from people who are considered a harm to themselves or others.

“That is a very typical approach from the federal government to incentivize states to participate in their grant program,” Town said. “But, if you want the money, you have to do XYZ, and in this case to do XYZ, it is to pass certain criteria for red flag laws.”

Town said time will tell if the new laws have an impact in Alabama.

“This bill does make us safer,” he said. “We will see how much safer in the coming months and years.”

Town said another element in the reform laws is it enhances the penalties for one of Alabama’s biggest problems; straw purchasing and firearm trafficking. Town said it will now qualify federally as organized criminal activity.

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