Statement from Congressman Castro on Passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act
WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) released the following statement after voting to pass the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, legislation that will enact major new reforms to protect Americans from gun violence:
“When I met with families from Uvalde, they asked me how it was possible for the man who murdered their loved ones to get a dangerous weapon so easily,” said Congressman Castro. “Today, Congress has voted to pass historic gun safety reforms that will save lives and keep deadly weapons out of the hands of people who present a clear danger to their communities. We need to make more progress on gun safety, but today’s vote is an important step forward.”
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act will:
- Incentivize the establishment of crisis intervention (“red flag”) laws by creating a new $750 million funding pot that will be available to states for the creation and administration of laws that help ensure deadly weapons are kept out of the hands of individuals that a court has determined to be a significant danger to themselves or others.
- Protect victims of domestic violence by narrowing the “boyfriend loophole.” The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act expands existing law to include a ban on possessing firearms for offenders who were in serious dating relationship with their victim. Previously, the law only prevented domestic violence offenders from possessing firearms if they were related to the person they committed a violent offense against, including spouses and immediate family.
- Crack down on illegal gun sales by clarifying the definition of ‘federally licensed firearm dealer’ to expand the number of gun sellers who are required to register with the federal government, conduct background checks, and keep appropriate sales records.
- Enhance background checks for young adults. Six of the nine deadliest mass shootings in the last five years were committed by people who were 21 years old or younger. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act will require an investigative period to review juvenile and mental health records, including checks with state databases and local law enforcement, for buyers under 21 years of age. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) will have up to three business days to conduct the initial enhanced search. If that search reveals a possible disqualifying record, NICS will have an extended window of no more than ten business days total to complete the investigation. The bill will also provide additional funding to the FBI to administer new process checks in NICS and grants to help states upgrade criminal and mental health records therein.
- Create federal penalties for straw purchases, allowing prosecutors to target dangerous illegal gunrunners.
- Prevent community-based gun violence by providing $250 million in funding for community-based violence prevention initiatives.
- Invest in mental health services for children and families by supporting the national expansion of community behavioral health center model, improving access to mental health services for children, youth, and families through the Medicaid program and CHIP, increasing access to mental health services for youth and families in crisis via telehealth, and providing major investments at the Department of Health and Human Services to programs that expand provider training in mental health, support suicide prevention, crisis and trauma intervention and recovery.
- Increase funding for schools by investing in programs to expand mental health and supportive services in schools, including early identification and intervention programs, school-based mental health and wrap-around services, improvements to school-wide learning conditions, and school safety.
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