Posted: June 27, 2022
Washington – Today, House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Chair Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) voted to pass the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The Senate passed this legislation by a vote of 65 to 33, with 15 Senate Republicans joining all 50 Senate Democrats. The bill passed the House by a vote of 234-193.
“While the tragic loss of 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary in Uvalde and the disgusting racially motivated slaughter in Buffalo captured the nation’s attention – we know that gun violence survivors and their allies across our country have been working every day to prevent the gun violence that kills 30 people every day, and over 100 when you factor in accidents and suicides.,” said Thompson. “The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act will do the most important thing any gun violence prevention legislation can do: save lives. A majority of Americans and responsible gun owners support these provisions, and I look forward to seeing President Biden sign this bill into law.”
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is designed to protect America’s children, keep our schools safe, and reduce the threat of violence across our country. This bill now goes to President Biden’s desk for his signature.
Some of the general provisions include:
- Support for State Crisis Intervention Orders: Creates $750 million for states to create and administer laws that will ensure deadly weapons are kept out of the hands of individuals determined by a court.
- Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence by Closing the Boyfriend Loophole: Adds convicted domestic violence abusers in dating relationships to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
- Penalties for Straw Purchasing: Creates federal straw purchasing and gun trafficking criminal offenses, allowing prosecutors to target dangerous illegal gunrunners.
- Clarified Definition of Federally Licensed Firearms Dealer: Cracks down on criminals who illegally evade licensing requirements and clarifies which sellers need to register, conduct background checks, and keep appropriate records.
- Enhanced Background Checks for People Under 21: Requires an investigative period to review juvenile and mental health records, including checks with state databases and local law enforcement, for buyers under 21 years of age, creating an enhanced, longer background check of up to ten days.
- Community Violence Prevention Initiatives: Provides $250 million in funding for community-based violence prevention initiatives.
Investments in Children and Family Mental Health Services
The bill supports national expansion of community behavioral health center model; improves access to mental health services for children, youth and families through the Medicaid program and CHIP; increases access to mental health service for youth and families in crisis via telehealth; and provides major investments at the Department of Health and Human Services in programs that expand provider training in mental health, support suicide prevention, crisis and trauma intervention and recovery.
Some of the specific provisions include:
- Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic: Expands the existing Medicaid CCBHC demonstration program to all states to increase access to community-based behavioral health services.
- School-based mental health: Helps states to implement, enhance, and expand school-based health programs under Medicaid through updated guidance, technical assistance, and state planning grants.
- Gold standard in mental health coverage for children: Improves oversight of states’ implementation of Medicaid’s Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit, the country’s gold standard in children’s health coverage, to strengthen children’s access to comprehensive mental health services.
- Telemental health services for children: Requires CMS to provide guidance to states on how they can increase access to behavioral health services through telehealth under Medicaid and CHIP.
- Training for pediatric providers: Appropriates $60 million over five years for training in mental health for primary care clinicians who treat children and youth.
- Community and first responder mental health training: Appropriates $120 million over four years to prepare and train community members and first responders on how to appropriately and safely respond to individuals with mental disorders.
- Support for states to expand mental health services: Provides $250 million for states, DC, and territories to enhance comprehensive community mental health services.
- Building awareness of and access to services for mental health: Appropriates $240 million over four years for programs that increase awareness of mental health issues among school-aged youth, provide training for school personnel and other adults who interact with school-aged youth to detect and respond to mental health issues, and connect school-aged youth who may have behavioral health issues and their families to needed services.
- School-based trauma support: Includes a set aside of $28 million for grants to support trauma care in school settings.
- Support after traumatic events: Appropriates $40 million over four years to improve treatment and services for children, adolescents, and families who have experienced traumatic events.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline/9-8-8: Appropriates $150 million to support implementation of the 9-8-8 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline that provides 24/7, free and confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.
Increased Funding for Schools
The bill invests in programs to expand mental health and supportive services in schools, including early identification and intervention programs, school-based mental health and wrap-around services, improvements in school-wide learning conditions, and school safety.
Some of the specific provisions include:
- School Based Mental Health Services and Staff: Provides $500 million through the School Based Mental Health Services Grant Program to increase the number of qualified mental health service providers that provide school based mental health services to students in school districts with demonstrated need.
- Training and Pipeline Development for School Based Mental Health Staff: Provides $500 million in funding for School Based Mental Health Service Professionals Demonstration Grant. This money will help train and diversify the pipeline of school counselors, school social workers, and school psychologists.
- Improving Conditions for Student Learning: Provides $1 billion in funding through Title IV-A to support a variety of activities to improve conditions for student learning, including developing positive school climates through evidence-based practices.
- Out-of School Programs: Provides $50 million in funding to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which funds extracurricular, after school and summer programs, with a focus of new funding to target programs for older youth.
- School Safety: Provides $300 million in funding through the STOP School Violence Act to institute safety measures in and around schools, support school violence prevention efforts and provide training to school personnel and students. Codifies the SchoolSafety.gov clearinghouse, which provides evidence-based resources to improve school safety. Prohibits use of funds under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to train or equip any person with dangerous weapons in schools.