HARRISBURG, PA — Confident the U.S. House will swiftly consider and vote on the package, Governor Tom Wolf on Friday lauded the U.S. Senate for their passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The comprehensive package of legislation has the opportunity to be the most significant update to the nation’s gun laws in decades.
“It’s terribly sad that the Uvalde shooting had to occur in order for Congress to finally act in a coordinated manner to protect our children, keep our schools safe, and reduce the plague of gun violence that’s been terrorizing our country,” said Governor Wolf. “Nonetheless, I’m grateful that both sides of the aisle are finally working together to combat the bloodshed. I’m eager for swift action by the House and a signing by President Biden – it’s time to make history, it’s time to start saving lives.”
The U.S. Senate on Friday passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the package must next pass the U.S. House to be sent to the president’s desk. The package includes:
- Supports State Crisis Intervention by creating a new, $750 million pot of funding to support states in the creation and administration of red flag laws that help ensure deadline weapons are kept out of the hands of individuals a court has determined to be a significant danger to themselves or others.
- Protects Victims of Domestic Violence by closing the “boyfriend loophole” and adding convicted domestic violence abusers in dating relationships to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
- Clarifies Definition of ‘Federally Licensed Firearms Dealer’ to crack down on criminals who illegally evade licensing requirements and clarifies which sellers need to register, conduct background checks, and keep appropriate records.
- Enhances Review Process for Buyers Under 21 by requiring an investigative period to review juvenile and mental health records, including checks with state databases and local law enforcement, for firearms buyers under 21 years of age.
- Creates Federal Penalties for ‘Straw Purchasers’ who purchase guns for those who cannot pass a background check such as a convicted felon or minor.
- Funds Violence Interrupting at $250 million for community-based violence prevention initiatives.
- Invests Heavily in Mental Health Services for Children & Families through Medicaid and CHIP, in addition to providing major investments to the Department of Health and Human Services to expand provider training in mental health, support suicide prevention, crisis and trauma intervention and recovery.
- Increases School Funding to expand mental health and support services for children and $300 million for the STOP School Violence Act to improve safety measures in and around schools, support school violence prevention efforts, and provide training to school personnel and students.
While this package isn’t inclusive of all of Governor Wolf’s gun violence prevention priorities, the Governor believes it’s an important step to initiate a stifling of America’s gun violence epidemic.
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