Giffords Celebrates President Biden’s Signing of Bipartisan Safer Communities Act
Washington, DC — Giffords, the gun violence prevention group led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, celebrated President Biden’s signing of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act into law. This law represents the first significant gun safety legislation to become law in nearly 30 years. Gun lobby leaders, National Rifle Association (NRA) and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), have come out against the legislation.
Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords:
“On January 30, 2013, a little over a month after Sandy Hook, I addressed Congress for the first time since being shot. On this day, which marked the beginning of my mission to make America safer from gun violence, I told my former colleagues, ‘be bold, be courageous, Americans are counting on you.’
“Over the last 11 years, I’ve been reminded almost daily that when people care for each other and work together, progress is possible. A better world is possible. I’m often asked how I can stay optimistic during this long, hard haul. This legislation is validation of that optimism.
“My friend Joe Biden and I have been in this fight together for a long time. President Biden’s signing of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act today represents his commitment to the families and loved ones who have lost someone to gun violence. This moment means so much to all of the survivors of gun violence who believed in his candidacy and his presidency.
“For years, survivors and gun safety advocates have been working towards this moment. Today, we look back with a somber acknowledgement of the lives taken by gun violence, and we look ahead with the conviction that the future will be a little bit brighter because of the courageous action our leaders took today. I thank Congress and President Biden for having the courage to act on this life-or-death issue.”
Peter Ambler, Executive Director, Giffords:
“After nearly 30 years of inaction at the federal level while gun violence has surged, a gun safety package has been signed into law. Many thought Congress would never pass a bipartisan gun safety bill that will save lives, but the hard work and courage of countless legislators and advocates proved them wrong. By working together we were able to overcome the gun lobby, led by the NRA and NSSF. The fight for gun safety is far from over, but we can hold our heads a bit higher knowing that the legislation signed today is a meaningful step in the right direction. Giffords thanks our partners in Congress, especially Senator Chris Murphy, and President Biden for leading the charge to enact this lifesaving legislation.”
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is a package of the following policies. A detailed policy memo can be found here.
- Authorizes Federal Funding for the Implementation and Establishment of State Extreme Risk Protection Orders
- This legislation provides $750 million in federal funding to support state implementation and establishment of state-level extreme risk protection order (ERPO) laws. This bill authorizes Bryne JAG funding for state crisis intervention orders, also known as ERPO laws or red flag laws, which are proven to be effective tools that help reduce gun suicides and mass shootings. ERPOs empower law enforcement agencies, and often families and household members, to petition courts for a civil (non-criminal) order to temporarily suspend a person’s access to firearms before they commit violence against others or themselves.
- Addresses the Dating/Intimate Partner Loophole
- This legislation addresses a key gap in federal law that leaves victims of abuse vulnerable to injury and death by an armed domestic abuser. While more than half of all intimate partner homicides are committed by dating partners, federal law currently only prohibits gun possession among individuals convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence if the abuser has been married to, lived with, or had a child with the victim. Closing this deadly loophole is vital to protecting survivors of domestic violence—states that prevent abusive dating partners from owning guns have 16% fewer intimate partner gun homicides.
- Funds Community Violence Intervention Programs
- This legislation provides $250 million for community violence intervention (CVI) programs, which would be the largest investment in CVI in US history. This funding would support coordinated, evidence-informed, community-based intervention and prevention programs. These strategies work to reduce violence by delivering comprehensive services to individuals at the highest risk of engaging in or being victimized by interpersonal violence.
- Requires Enhanced Background Checks for People under 21 to Buy Long Guns
- By requiring additional investigative steps to review juvenile records and consult with local law enforcement before a person under the age of 21 is able to purchase a long gun, this legislation provides law enforcement critical time to investigate a young person seeking to buy a long gun, including a semiautomatic assault-style rifles, to help reduce the risk of them using the gun for an act of violence. Young people disproportionately commit gun homicides: 18–20 year olds comprise just four percent of the US population, but account for 17% of known homicide offenders.
- Addresses Gun Trafficking
- This legislation establishes federal statutes to clearly define and penalize firearms trafficking and straw purchasing. These statutes would create new avenues for the investigation and prosecution of these often-overlooked crimes.
- Updates Language around Licensed Gun Sellers
- Federal law provides that persons “engaged in the business” of dealing in firearms must be licensed and conduct background checks on purchasers. Unlicensed sellers are not required to conduct background checks. The proposal would make a minor change to the language that determines which gun sellers must obtain a license and conduct background checks. The loophole that allows unlicensed sellers to sell guns without conducting background checks would remain open.
Giffords Executive Director Peter Ambler and Giffords Managing Director Robin Lloyd are available for comment. Please reach out to Mary Yatrousis (firstname.lastname@example.org) to schedule an interview.
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