Whitehouse Votes to Pass Bipartisan Gun Violence Prevention Bill
Legislation strengthens gun safety measures and includes funding for local efforts to address gun violence - including leading programs in Rhode Island
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) released the following statement on passage tonight of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act—a bipartisan measure to address gun violence in America. The bill cleared the Senate by a vote of 65 to 33 and now awaits action in the House.
“Gun violence touches every corner of our society, from schools to places of worship to grocery stores. On the day when a Supreme Court the NRA helped build struck down more gun safety protections, action is more urgent than ever.
“This bill garnered bipartisan support and boosted funding for mental health services, behavioral health clinics, and non-violence initiatives. I look forward to helping Rhode Island’s exemplary organizations, whose programs save lives in our communities every day, get access to this new funding.
“This bill could do more to tackle the drivers of gun violence and to safeguard individual rights, and we should build on it moving forward. We ought to improve its provisions related to juvenile court records and domestic violence assailants. We need to increase the minimum age to 21 for the purchase of a firearm, as Rhode Island just did, and do more on issues like assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and comprehensive background checks.”
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act provides $4.5 billion in funding to the Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, and Department of Education to fund community violence intervention programs; provide grants to states for crisis intervention programs, including implementation of red flag laws; school and community mental health grants and activities; school safety grants for training, technology, and security infrastructure; and funding for the FBI to increase their capacity to conduct NICS background checks.
It will also strengthen laws to protect the public from gun violence, including:
- Taking a significant step toward closing the “boyfriend loophole” by prohibiting gun possession for five years by persons convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence who are in a current or recent former dating relationship with the victim.
- Creating new federal criminal offenses for straw purchasing and firearms trafficking, which will provide a significant federal deterrent for this behavior.
- Redefining and clarifying what it means to be “engaged in the business” of dealing guns, which triggers the requirement to conduct background checks on prospective purchasers.
- Requiring an enhanced background check process before long guns can be sold to prospective buyers who are between the ages of 18-20.
- Expanding nationwide an innovative payment model, the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic, that boosts access to behavioral health care services.
- Increasing the delivery of mental health care in schools and communities, including through telehealth, by updating Medicaid policies and guidance to clarify the availability of coverage for key services for youth.
Rich Davidson/Meaghan McCabe (202) 228-6291 (press office)
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