Congress Passes Bill with Critical Funding for Gun Violence Prevention
Legislation includes robust funding for community violence intervention and a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act
Washington, DC —Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, applauded the bipartisan passage of the omnibus spending bill to fund the government through Fiscal Year 2022 and prioritize efforts to prevent gun violence, bolster public safety, and improve public health by funding community violence intervention and gun violence research, reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and creating the Community Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative within the Department of Justice.
Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords:
“Over the past two years, gun violence has skyrocketed, leaving communities suffering and in desperate need for support. This bill invests in our safety with significant funding for violence intervention, an important reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, and new tools to keep guns out of the hands of prohibited persons. Gun violence, whether in the home or on the streets, is an ongoing tragedy for all Americans. I applaud Congress for taking necessary action to make our homes and communities safer.”
Giffords Federal Affairs Director Adzi Vokhiwa:
“We are heartened to see Congress include significant investments in new community-based violence intervention initiatives, while continuing to build on past investments into gun violence research funding and critical programs within the Department of Justice and Department of Health and Human Services. We are also grateful to see increased funding for the ATF and the FBI to better enforce federal gun laws to keep communities safe from gun violence.
We further commend Congress for reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, which includes modest provisions to address the deadly nexus between firearms and domestic violence. We are disappointed, however, that the legislation leaves victims of abuse at the hands of current and former dating partners unprotected. While we know this decision was a political compromise to ensure passage of the overall bill, we urge Congress to take action to close the boyfriend loophole.
We thank Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Leahy, and Chairwoman DeLauro for their unwavering leadership and staunch commitment to ensure that the public health and safety of our nation remain top priorities.”
For the first time, the omnibus includes more than $45 million in discrete funding for at least 67 community projects that support community violence intervention efforts. Community project funding provides a critical mechanism for Congress to fund local efforts to address violence in their communities.
Additionally, the omnibus legislation reauthorizes the Violence Against Women Act, with key provisions to help survivors of gender-based violence and address some gaps in federal law enabling abusers to access firearms. Significantly, VAWA includes the NICS Denial Notification Act, bipartisan legislation endorsed by Giffords requiring law enforcement to be notified when a person attempts to purchase a firearm and fails a background check. Reauthorizing VAWA will provide lifesaving funding for a wide variety of programs focused on addressing violence against women. However, this legislation fails to provide broader protections for victims of domestic violence as it does not close the “boyfriend loophole”, which enables abusive partners and ex-partners to obtain firearms and threaten, injure, and kill their victims.
Funding levels in the FY22 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies bill for Giffords-supported initiatives, bureaus, and programs to improve gun safety include:
- $50 million for the new Community Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative within the Department of Justice.
- $95 million for grants to states to upgrade criminal and mental health records for the NICS background check system, including $25 million for the NICS Act Record Improvement Program (NARIP)
- An increase of $47 million for the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives (ATF), which would enable ATF to expand implementation of the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN), as well as work with high-risk areas to identify solutions and metrics to demonstrate meaningful reductions in gun trafficking and violent crime
- $55 million for the Office of Violence Against Women’s Improving Criminal Justice Response Program, also known as the Grants to Encourage Arrest and Enforcement of Protection Orders Program, which is designed to allow local governments develop collaborative responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The passed legislation noted that $4 million of this program’s funding is for a homicide reduction initiative and up to $4 million can be used for a domestic violence lethality reduction initiative
Funding levels in the FY22 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies bill for Giffords-supported initiatives, bureaus, and programs to address the public health crisis of gun violence include:
- $25 million for firearm injury and mortality prevention research, split evenly between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- An increase of $13 million for Project AWARE grants within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which are used to expand partnerships and collaboration between state and local educational systems and state mental health agencies to foster healthy mental and behavioral development of school-aged youth and prevent youth violence. $12.5 million of this funding will be used to support efforts in high-crime, high-poverty areas and in particular, communities that are seeking to address relevant impacts and root causes of civil unrest, community violence, and collective trauma
- $24.5 million for the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS). NVDRS is the most comprehensive database for violent death related data within the U.S., which helps inform our approaches to violence prevention
- $124 million for Suicide Prevention Programs, including the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, the Zero Suicide program, and Suicide Lifeline
- $52 million for the Children and Family Services program within the Administration for Children and Families. This funding may be used to address the rise of adverse childhood experiences attributable to different factors, including community violence, and other traumatic experiences that can negatively impact child development and lead to disruptions in classroom environments.
Provisions within the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2022 related to addressing gun violence include:
- The NICS Denial Notification Act of 2021 which requires the Attorney General to notify state or tribal law enforcement whenever a person fails a background check to buy a gun. When a person convicted of abuse attempts to purchase a firearm, it is often a warning sign of escalating violence against their victim. This notification would allow law enforcement to better prevent the abuser, or any other person ineligible to purchase a gun under federal, state, or tribal law, from attempting to purchase a gun through other means after failing a background check.
- Funding for tribal governments to improve their ability to report information to, access information in, and obtain information, including criminal convictions, from the firearms background check system databases. Gaps in reporting of criminal convictions by tribal courts enable people convicted of domestic abuse to circumvent the background check system and obtain firearms, putting victims of domestic violence at risk. In order to prevent prohibited people from purchasing guns, accurate reporting to the background check system is critical.
- Authorizing the Attorney General to appoint qualified attorneys to prosecute illegal gun possession and deputize state and local law enforcement officers to aid ATF in the investigation of cases where domestic abusers illegally possess firearms. Additional qualified staff are needed to investigate and prosecute illegal gun possession by people convicted of domestic abuse or subject to domestic violence protective orders. This provision is critical in helping ensure the effective enforcement of federal laws that prohibit people convicted of domestic abuse from possessing or buying firearms.
Our experts can speak to the full spectrum of gun violence prevention issues. Have a question? Email us at email@example.com.Contact