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June 23, 2022

King-Backed Bipartisan Gun Safety Legislation Passes Senate

Senator was one of twenty to introduce historic legislation that will save lives and protect the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today celebrated the Senate’s 65 to 33 vote to pass the Safer Communities Act, bipartisan gun safety legislation that will address the gun violence epidemic while protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans. The legislation includes funding for red flag laws, enhanced background checks for buyers under 21, increased mental health resources, and more life-saving provisions. King is a cosponsor of the legislation, and was one of twenty Senators who announced the framework of the bill last week.

“For too long, communities across our country have felt the devastation and heartbreak of America’s gun violence epidemic – with each mass shooting and senseless act of violence leaving Americans to wonder if they or their loved ones will be next. This cannot continue: our schools cannot be battlegrounds; our streets cannot be war zones – and with commonsense measures like this one, the chances of such all-too-frequent nightmares repeating themselves will be reduced. Today the Senate took the most significant step in decades to confront these tragedies and protect our people from the scourge of gun violence,” said Senator King. “The Safer Communities Act is an important bipartisan compromise that will save lives by keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and those who would do harm, while respecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans. Along with supporting “red flag” laws, strengthening penalties for illegal gun sales, and protecting victims of domestic violence, our carefully crafted legislation includes significant resources to address the mental health crisis that fuels so many of these atrocities.

“Now, let’s be clear – this is not a perfect bill, but politics is the art of the possible and this is the best possible bill that we can pass at this moment in time. Despite any shortcomings, the bill makes important progress and successfully jump-started negotiations after a nearly thirty-year impasse on this critical subject. It is my hope that this bill is the start – not the end – of this conversation, and I will continue engaging with my colleagues on additional bipartisan steps to confront gun violence. In the days ahead, I urge the House of Representatives to pass our bipartisan bill so we can enact much-needed, commonsense reforms that save lives.”

The Safer Communities Act includes provisions to:

  • Support State Crisis Intervention Orders (“Red Flag” Laws)
    • Provides resources to states and tribes to create and administer laws that help ensure deadly weapons are kept out of the hands of individuals whom a court has determined to be a significant danger to themselves or others, consistent with state and federal due process and constitutional protections. Portions of these provisions were inspired by bipartisan legislation introduced by Senator King, along with Senators Reed (D-R.I.), Rubio (R-FL), and Scott (R-FL).
  • Invest in Children and Family Mental Health Services
    • National expansion of community behavioral health center model; major investments to increase access to mental health and suicide prevention programs; and other support services available in the community, including crisis and trauma intervention and recovery.
  • Protect Victims of Domestic Violence
    • Convicted domestic violence abusers and individuals subject to domestic violence restraining orders are included in NICS, including those who have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.
  • Fund School-Based Mental Health and Supportive Services
    • Invests in programs to expand mental health and supportive services in schools, including: early identification and intervention programs and school based mental health and wrap-around services.
  • Fund School Safety Resources
    • Invests in programs to help institute safety measures in and around primary and secondary schools, support school violence prevention efforts and provide training to school personnel and students.
  • Clarify Definition of Federally Licensed Firearms Dealer
    • Cracks down on criminals who illegally evade licensing requirements.
  • Invest in Telehealth
    • Invests in programs that increase access to mental and behavioral health services for youth and families in crisis via telehealth.
  • Enhance Under 21 Review Process
    • For buyers under 21 years of age, requires an investigative period to review juvenile and mental health records, including checks with state databases and local law enforcement.
  • Strengthen Penalties for Straw Purchasing
    • Cracks down on criminals who illegally straw purchase and traffic guns.

The full text of the legislation can be found here

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