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Thompson Releases Statement on Bipartisan Senate Gun Violence Prevention Bill

Washington – Today, House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Chair Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) released the following statement after the bipartisan group of senators, led by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), introduced the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

“The United States faces an epidemic of gun violence, between the constant mass shootings and the everyday gun violence that is not often covered by the media,” said Thompson. “The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act will do the most important thing any gun violence prevention bill will do: save lives. While this bill does not go as far as the bills passed by the House, including my Bipartisan Background Checks Act and the Protecting Our Kids Act, we must take progress wherever we can find it. This bill represents a significant step towards combatting gun violence prevention and passing this bill will put measures in place to keep guns out of dangerous hands, invest in mental health resources and community violence intervention programs, fund school safety programs, enhance background checks for people under 21, and crack down on gun trafficking.

“As Congress considers this bill, I will never give up on other critical gun violence prevention priorities like background checks, nationwide red flag laws, safe storage provisions, and other policies which will save lives and are overwhelmingly supported by the American people.

“When the Senate passes this bill later this week, the House must be ready to expeditiously take it up and send it to President Biden’s desk to help save lives and keep our communities safe.”

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act provides:

  • Support for State Crisis Intervention Orders (also known as red flag laws)
    • Creates a new $750 million funding pot that will be available to states for the creation and administration of laws that help ensure firearms are kept out of the hands of individuals that a court has determined to be a significant danger to themselves or others, and other purposes such as mental health courts, drug courts, veterans courts, and extreme risk protection orders that have sufficient due process.
  • Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence
    • Adds convicted domestic violence abusers in dating relationships to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Creates a process for removal from NICS five years after the completion of the sentence, only if there are no intervening prohibited crimes or other similar offenses.
  • Clarified Definition of ‘Federally Licensed Firearms Dealer’
    • Cracks down on criminals who illegally evade licensing requirements and clarifies which sellers need to register, conduct background checks, and keep appropriate records.
  • Under 21 Enhanced Review Process
    • Requires an investigative period to review juvenila and mental health records, including checks with state databases and local law enforcement, for buyers under 21 years of age.
    • 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 10 business days total to complete the investigation.
    • Provides additional funding to the FBI to administer new process checks in NICS and grants to help states upgrade criminal and mental health records therein.
  • Penalties for ‘Straw Purchasing’
    • Creates federal straw purchasing and trafficking criminal offenses, allowing prosecutors to target dangerous illegal gunrunners.
  • Violence Interruption Funding
    • Provides $250 million in funding for community-based violence prevention initiatives.
  • Investment in Children and Family Mental Health Services
    • Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic: Expands the existing Medicaid CCBHC demonstration program to all states to increase access to community based behavioral health services.
    • School-based mental health: Helps states to implement, enhance, and expand school-based health programs under Medicaid through updated guidance, technical assistance, and state planning grants.
    • Gold standard in mental health coverage for children: Improves oversight of states’ implementation of Medicaid’s Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit, the country’s gold standard in children’s health coverage, to strengthen children’s access to comprehensive mental health care services.
    • Telemental health services for children: Requires CMS to provide guidance to states on how they can increase access to behavioral health services through telehealth under Medicaid and CHIP.
    • Teleconsults for pediatricians and mental health specialists: Provides $80 million in grants to support pediatric primary care providers to rapidly access mental health specialists’ expertise in guiding the treatment of their patients.
    • Training for pediatric providers: Appropriates $60 million over five years for training in mental health for primary care clinicians who treat children and youth.
    • Community and first responder mental health training: Appropriates $120 million over four years to prepare and train community members and first responders on how to appropriately and safely respond to individuals with mental disorders.
    • Support for states to expand mental health services: Provides $250 million for states, DC, and territories to enhance comprehensive community mental health services.
    • Building awareness of and access to services for mental health: Appropriates $240 million over four years for programs that increase awareness of mental health issues among school-aged youth, provide training for school personnel and other adults who interact with school-aged youth to detect and respond to mental health issues, and connect school-aged youth who may have behavioral health issues and their families to needed services.
    • School-based trauma support: Includes a set aside of $28 million for grants to support trauma care in school settings.
    • Support after traumatic events: Appropriates $40 million over four years to improve treatment and services for children, adolescents, and families who have experienced traumatic events.
    • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline/9-8-8: Appropriates $150 million to support implementation of the 9-8-8 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline that provides 24/7, free and confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.
  • Increased Funding for Schools
    • School Based Mental Health Services and Staff: Provides $500 million through the School Based Mental Health Services Grant Program to increase the number of qualified mental health service providers that provide school based mental health services to students in school districts with demonstrated need.
    • Training and Pipeline Development for School Based Mental Health Staff: Provides $500 million in funding to the School Based Mental Health Service Professionals Demonstration Grant. This money will help train and diversify the pipeline of school counselors, school social workers, and school psychologists.
    • Improving Conditions for Student Learning: Provides $1 billion in funding through Title IV-A to support a variety of activities to improve conditions for student learning, including developing positive school climates through evidence-based practices.
    • Out of School Programs: Provides $50 million in funding to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which funds extracurricular, after school and summer programs, with a focus of new funding to target programs for older youth.
    • School Safety: Provides $300 million in funding through the STOP School Violence Act to institute safety measures in and around schools, support school violence prevention efforts and provide training to school personnel and students. Codifies the SchoolSafety.gov clearinghouse, which provides evidence-based resources to improve school safety. Prohibits use of funds under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to train or equip any person with dangerous weapons in schools.

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