Joe Biden

Statement of Administration Policy: S. 2938 - Bipartisan Safer Communities Act

June 23, 2022


(Sen. Murphy, D-CT, and Sen. Cornyn, R-TX)

The Administration strongly supports passage of S. 2938, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. Last month, President Biden spent hours with the family members whose lives were forever changed by the recent shootings at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York and an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. The family members delivered a simple message, which the President then relayed to the American people: do something. Do something to stop the carnage of gun violence that leaves behind grief and trauma in communities, both big and small, across the country. The President called on Congress to pass rational, commonsense measures to reduce gun violence.

By passing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, Congress will be taking meaningful action to save lives. This legislation would be one of the most significant steps Congress has taken to reduce gun violence in decades, giving our law enforcement and prosecutors new tools to prosecute gun traffickers. 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, which includes reviewing juvenile mental health records for individuals 16 years or older seeking 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 purchasing or possessing 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 to help the National Criminal Instant Background Check System continue the work of keeping guns out of dangerous hands.

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act would also advance the President's agenda to expand access to mental health services and address the trauma of gun violence affecting so many communities. Most notably, the bill would expand access to community and school-based behavioral health services for children and families. S. 2938 would expand the certified community behavioral health clinic demonstration program in up to 10 new States every two years, and provides critical resources and guidance to increase access to telehealth services. The bill would 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 would provide funding to increase awareness of mental health issues among school-aged children, and youths; to train school personnel and other adults who interact with school-aged children and youths to detect and respond to mental health issues; and to help connect these children and youths with the care they may need. The bill would ensure that schools will have the tools and support they need to leverage Medicaid funding to support their efforts in delivering critical mental health services to their students. The bill would also provide funding to increase the number of mental health service providers in our 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.

Lastly, S. 2938 would help make our schools safer. For example, it would provide $1 billion to help schools put in place comprehensive strategies to create safe and healthy learning environments for all students. The bill would provide funding to support afterschool, before-school, and summer programs, which have all been shown to reduce the risk of violent incidents and law enforcement interactions, while increasing student achievement. The bill would provide $300 million to students and educators for the training and tools they need on how to prevent and respond to violence against themselves and others.

While the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act does not include additional important steps the President has called for as part of his comprehensive gun crime reduction agenda, it would make meaningful progress to combat gun violence. As communities continue to experience gun violence every day, the Administration calls for swift passage of this life-saving legislation.

Joseph R. Biden, Statement of Administration Policy: S. 2938 - Bipartisan Safer Communities Act Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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