Every firearm in the United States would have to be licensed, insured, and tracked at all times under the terms of the Sabika Sheikh Firearm Licensing and Registration Act, which is now being considered by the United States Congress. The law would also prohibit the use of any ammunition with a caliber greater than 50 calibers (AE, BMG).
Who was Sabika Sheikh?
Sabika, aged 17, aspired to be a diplomat and to work for women’s empowerment. She had come to the United States as a State Department-funded exchange student from Karachi, Pakistan, excited to escape the perils posed by radicals at home and see a country that embodied everything that was possible.
In May of this year, a Pakistani exchange student in the United States was slain in a tragic school shooting in Texas. Sabika Sheikh was studying in the United States as a result of a Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program-facilitated exchange program within the country.
On May 18, 2018, a shooting at Santa Fe High School resulted in the death of Sabika Sheikh, the 17-year-old exchange student from Pakistan who had been studying in the United States.
History & Background of Sabika Sheikh Firearm Licensing and Registration Act
In the United States, a law known as the Sabika Sheikh Firearm Licensing and Registration Act has recently been introduced. The landmark legislation establishes a comprehensive mechanism for the licensing and registration of firearms and ammunition in the United States.
“As a Fulbright scholar from Pakistan, I traveled to the United States in 2017. Sabika, my loveliest and most humble relative arrived in town just a day before my arrival. We were both exchange students at the time, ” Before returning to Pakistan, she wrote a lengthy post on Facebook, which she shared with her friends. “When I took my first touristy photo in front of the United States Capitol Building in 2017, I had no idea that one year later, this location would become the focal point of everything I would do while visiting this country. Sabika was brutally murdered at her exchange school shortly after I concluded my first graduate year, just a few months after I graduated.”
She then went on to say that following Sheikh’s death, she made the decision to “have gun safety legislation submitted for her in the United States Congress.”
Albasit went on to say, “The last year has seen one stride forward followed by 99 rejections for every one step forward. I suffered at the most fundamental levels, especially as someone who was not born and raised in the United States. When it came to approaching people, I had no idea what to ask them, what to say during protest speeches, how to think, or what to think about. I found it difficult to comprehend spoken English and to locate the appropriate English words that would make me appear intelligent enough to be taken seriously.”
She went on to say that things began to change for the better when, in February of this year, she began working with the Office of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee on a comprehensive Gun Reforms Act, which was meticulously prepared by Kristina Woods, who had lost a sibling to gun violence. She went on to say that she was inspired by her own sibling’s death to get involved.
Albasit, with the assistance of the appropriate people, was able to complete three bills from the original Act.
In addition, she stated that “…on July 26, 2019, miraculously on the last working day before my departure from the United States, I stood in the same building, the United States Capitol, alongside two Congresswomen, and introduced ‘The Sabika Sheikh Firearm Licensing and Registration Act’. ” “I am now looking to gun violence prevention organizations to help ensure that this life-saving bill becomes law,” said the senator.
According to Albasit, “Over the 436 days after Sabika’s shooting, I’ve had a taste of the divisive politics of the United States from within. The experiences I’ve had range from humbling opportunities to speak at public protests in multiple US cities to being a small part of one of the most progressive youth-led politics, to hearing from the most disenfranchised communities impacted by gun violence, to deliberating with both compassionate and hawkish lawmakers in the highest echelons of the United States, I’ve seen a lot. “
Provisions of the Sabika Sheikh Act
This bill establishes a process for the licensing and registration of firearms. It also prohibits the possession of certain ammunition and large-capacity ammunition feeding devices. Following is the list of all the provisions provided by this law:
Gun Licensing Requirements and Paraphernalia Restrictions
First of all, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives must establish (1) a licensing system for the possession of firearms or ammunition, and (2) a registration system for firearms.
In addition, the Department of Justice (DOJ) must establish and maintain a publicly available database of all registered firearms.
Thirdly, the bill generally prohibits and penalizes the possession of a firearm or ammunition unless the individual complies with licensing and registration requirements, listed below. Further, it prohibits the transfer of a firearm or ammunition to an unlicensed person.
Finally, Sabika Sheikh Firearm Licensing and Registration Act generally prohibits and penalizes (1) the possession of ammunition that is 0.50 caliber or greater, and (2) the possession of a large capacity ammunition feed device.
The bill requires that a policy be issued by the Attorney General that insures the person against liability for losses and damages resulting from the use of any firearm by the person during a 1-year policy period. The fees for a policy amount to $800 a year.
According to the Sabika Sheikh Firearm Licensing and Registration Act, for a general license, the pursuant must:
- Attain 21 years of age
- Undergo a criminal background check
- Undergo a psychological evaluation
- Successfully complete a training course in the use, safety, and storage of firearms, that includes at least 24 hours of training, and
- Obtain an insurance policy issued by the Attorney General of the United States.