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Giffords Commends Senate Introduction of Bipartisan Gun Violence Prevention Package

Washington DCGiffords, the gun violence prevention group led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, commends the introduction of the bipartisan gun violence prevention bill in the Senate. If passed, this bipartisan bill would represent the first significant gun safety legislation to pass the Senate in nearly 30 years. 

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords:

“It takes courage to act, and I’m proud to see Democrats and Republicans come together to introduce this bill. Since being shot, I’ve learned that when people care for each other and work together, progress is possible. A better world is possible. There is more important work to be done, but this legislation takes important steps needed to protect communities and save lives from gun violence. I urge the Senate to pass it, and I know that together we will keep fighting for our safety.”

Peter Ambler, Executive Director, Giffords:

“After nearly three decades of partisan gridlock, a bipartisan group of senators have come together to introduce meaningful legislation that will save lives. With gun violence at record levels, with Americans unified in their support for stronger gun laws, Giffords is heartened to see the Senate introduce legislation that will help address the epidemic of gun violence plaguing our nation. We are grateful to Senators Chris Murphy, Kyrsten Sinema, John Cornyn, Thom Tillis, and the other original co-sponsors of the bill for their leadership and dedication to ending gun violence. We urge the Senate to swiftly advance this bill and bring it to the floor for a vote and passage.”

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is a package of the following policies. Read our detailed policy memo on the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. 

Funds 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. However, Giffords does not support the penalty structure, which increases the length of potential prison sentences for illegal possession and trafficking offenses, established by these provisions and the potential implications these harsh penalties could have on people prosecuted under these provisions, particularly people of color. 

Engaged in the Business

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. 


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