The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, sponsored by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), was passed by a vote of 65-33 by the Senate on Thursday, June 23, with 15 Republicans voting in support of the bill. The legislation was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration, where it passed Friday, June 24 by a vote of 234-193, with 14 Republicans voting to approve the bill. It will now go to President Biden to be signed into law.
The bill would amend current law to clarify who needs a Federal license to buy and sell firearms; impose an enhanced background check review process, including reviewing juvenile mental health records for individuals 16 years or older who want to purchase a firearm; and narrow the “boyfriend loophole” by prohibiting someone convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence as part of a dating relationship from buying or owning a firearm for at least five years.
The bill would provide states with funding to implement extreme risk protection order programs, drug courts, and other crisis intervention programs. The bill would invest $250 million in community violence intervention and prevention initiatives and $100 million in the National Criminal Instant Background Check System. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act would also further President Biden’s agenda to expand access to mental health services and address the trauma of gun violence affecting so many communities.
The bill will also expand access to community and school-based behavioral health services for children and families. It will expand the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic Demonstration Program in up to 10 new states every two years and provide critical resources and guidance to increase access to telehealth services. The bill will also provide $250 million for the Community Mental Health Services Block grant, which enable states, the District of Columbia, and territories to expand access to mental health care. The bill will provide funding to increase awareness of mental health issues among school-aged children and youths; train school personnel and other adults who interact with school-aged children and youths to detect and respond to mental health issues; and help connect them with the care they may need. The bill would ensure that schools will have the tools and support they need to use Medicaid funding to support their efforts in providing vital mental health services to their students. The bill would also provide funding to increase the number of mental health service providers in schools, train primary care providers and pediatric primary care providers to be able to better provide mental health care and connect patients to mental health experts, improve treatment programs for children and adults who have experienced trauma, and support implementation of the 9-8-8 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline that the federal government will expand this summer.
The bill will help make schools safer by providing $1 billion to help schools develop comprehensive strategies to create safe and healthy learning environments for all students. It will provide funding to support before school, after school and summer programs, which have all been shown to reduce the risk of violent incidents and law enforcement interactions while improving student success. It will provide $300 million to students and educators for the training and tools they need to prevent and respond to violence against themselves and others.