WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, Representative Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) voted for the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, a tangible and lifesaving step forward that will combat the horrific trend of gun violence and better protect our schools, children, and all Americans. The bill will amend current law to clarify who needs a federal license to buy and sell firearms; establish an enhanced background check review process for those 21 and under, including a review of juvenile mental health records; and would close the “boyfriend loophole”, prohibiting individuals convicted of domestic violence crimes from purchasing or possessing a firearm for at least five years.
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was signed into law on Saturday by President Biden.
“With signage of this law, we as a country took an important step toward a safer and more secure future, a future that will ensure the safety of our loved ones and the peace of mind of our children,” said Houlahan. “As a third-generation veteran, teacher, and, most importantly, mother, the normalization of gun violence breaks my heart, as I know it does for so many individuals and communities across the entire country. I heard those same feelings of frustration during our Gun Violence Prevention Telephone Town Hall following the Buffalo and Uvalde attacks, and I’m encouraged that our community was able to come together and have those tough but necessary conversations. I am particularly proud of the way this legislation was passed: with open ears, respect for responsible gun ownership, and a commitment to a bipartisan framework. My service as our representative is to not only deliver for Chester and Berks Counties but also to deliver for all Americans.”
Houlahan added: “According to CDC data, guns are the number one killer of children in America, which is why it’s so important that Congress continues to come together in a bipartisan manner to advance common-sense legislation. I commend my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for passing the most comprehensive gun violence prevention legislation in over three decades. In today’s divisive political climate, where too many Americans question our ability to work collaboratively, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is a testament to the Congress’ potential and its commitment to the infinite betterment of our great nation.”
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act implements several key measures:
- Support for State Crisis Intervention Orders: Creates $750 million for states to create and administer laws that will ensure deadly weapons are kept out of the hands of individuals determined by a court.
- Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence by Closing the Boyfriend Loophole: Adds convicted domestic violence abusers in dating relationships to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
- Penalties for Straw Purchasing: Creates federal straw purchasing and gun trafficking criminal offenses, allowing prosecutors to target dangerous illegal gunrunners. .
- 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.
- Enhanced Background Checks for People Under 21: Establishes 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, creating an enhanced, longer background check of up to ten days.
- Anti-Violence Community Initiatives: Provides $250 million in funding for community-based violence prevention initiatives.
Investments in Children and Family Mental Health Services
- The bill supports national expansion of community behavioral health center model; improves access to mental health services for children, youth and families through the Medicaid program and CHIP; increases access to mental health service for youth and families in crisis via telehealth; and provides major investments at the Department of Health and Human Services in programs that expand provider training in mental health, support suicide prevention, crisis and trauma intervention and recovery.