On June 25, 2022 President Biden signed S.2938, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), into law. This law deals with firearm offenses: creating new firearms criminal offenses and significantly expanding existing penalties for federal firearms offenses. A summary of some of the changes follow:
The Act Raises the statutory maximum for 18 U.S.C. § 922(d) & (g) (felon in possession of a firearm) offenses from 10 to 15 years. See § 12001 (BSCA at 10-11), § 12004(d) (BCSA at 17).
- Expands the definition of “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” to include domestic violence against dating partners (defined in new 18 U.S.C. § 921(33)(C). See § 12005 (BCSA at 20).
- Creates new firearms crimes, 18 U.S.C. §§ 932 (Straw purchasing of firearms) & 933 (Trafficking of firearms), punishable by 15-25 years. See § 12004(a)(1) (BCSA at 14-16).
- Both of these new offenses are extremely broad. For example, Section 933, creates a new offense that covers not only trafficking but also transport and receipt of firearms.
- New sections added which include: § 932 & § 933 (1) as permissible bases for a Title III wiretap; (2) to the types of conduct that constitute “racketeering activity” under 18 U.S.C. § 1961(1)(B), and (3) to the list of predicate offenses for money laundering at 18 U.S.C. § 1956(c)(7)(D). See § 12004(a)(2) (BCSA at 16).
- Expands the conduct, mental state, and penalties for §§ 924(h) & (k). (§ 12004(e) & (f)) (BCSA at 17-18).
- Under the new § 924(h), it is illegal to knowingly receive or transfer a firearm or ammunition, or to attempt or conspire to do so, if you know or have reasonable cause to believe that the firearm will be used to commit a long list of offenses, including a “felony” (defined by the new § 932(a) to mean “any offense under Federal or State law punishable by a term exceeding 1 year”).
- Under the new § 924(k), it is illegal to smuggle or knowingly bring a firearm or ammunition in or out of the United States, or to attempt or conspire to do so, with the intent to “engage in or promote conduct” that includes a long list of offenses, including a “felony” (defined by the new § 932(a) to mean “any offense under Federal or State law punishable by a term exceeding 1 year”).
- Maximum penalty under both subsections raised from 10 to 15 years.
- Directs the sentencing commission to promulgate guidelines for the new offenses, in order to ensure increased penalties in comparison to those currently provided. § 12004(a)(5) (BCSA at 16).
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