On June 25th, the White House signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (S.2938), ending the thirty-year deadlock on gun reform legislation. In an effort to reduce mass casualties as a result of recent gun misuse, the Senate introduced a bipartisan gun proposal with provisions that focuses on strengthening background checks and increasing investments and resources for mental health. The bill would pass in the House of Representatives by a vote of 234-193 and in the Senate by a vote of 65-33. Soon after, President Biden signed this bill into law.
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act enhances and strengthens background checks on individuals purchasing a gun. Those under twenty-one years of age will require an additional background review process that investigates juvenile and mental health records. This includes the use of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database and law enforcement records. Further, this bill closes the “boyfriend loophole” and places those convicted of domestic violence into the NICS database, therefore unable to purchase a gun.
Additional investments and support for mental health services and crisis intervention will be granted to states. States will receive nearly $250 million in funding for community-based violence prevention initiatives for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBC). The Department of Health and Human Services will be tasked with improving access to telehealth services under Medicaid to increase access to mental health services for children. Using evidence-based best practices for school safety, this bill aims to provide additional funding and transparency to protect schools and increase mental health services.
Further, the Department of Justice will allocate $750 million in funding to states for the implementation and creation of laws and systems that will reduce the risk of those who are a danger and ensure that those individuals do not have access to guns. This includes the creation of “mental health courts”, “drug courts” and “extreme risk protection order programs” that meet certain constitutional requirements under Crisis Intervention Orders.
If you have any questions or would like to get involved in our advocacy efforts, please contact the ACA Government Affairs and Public Policy team at firstname.lastname@example.org.