Bill is supported by Intermountain Primary Children's Hospital, the Utah Fraternal Order of Police, National Sheriffs’ Association, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and more
WASHINGTON— By a vote of 65-33, the Senate passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act—legislation to bolster public safety and prevent tragedies before they occur, including through substantial investments in mental health, school safety, and state-led crisis intervention programs. U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) was part of a bipartisan group of 20 members to sign on to the proposal on June 12. The legislation now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
He released the following statement after voting in favor of the legislation
“Protecting human life and safeguarding Americans’ constitutional rights are not mutually exclusive—and the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act accomplishes both.
“This legislation does not infringe upon second amendment rights of law-abiding Americans. This bill provides for increased mental health and security resources in our schools, improves background checks, and strengthens protections for domestic violence victims. Also included this legislation is funding for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which thanks to an idea born in Utah and championed by Senator Hatch, is rolling out its new three-digit 988 number nationwide this summer.
“Utah has been a leader in proactively addressing mental health in our communities. This bill empowers states to stand up crisis intervention programs that fit their own needs. The SafeUT crisis chat and tip line is one example of a creative, state-run program that has proven results in stopping tragedy before it occurs.
“I am proud to have supported this package of commonsense and popular solutions that will both keep our schools safe and protect the rights of law-abiding citizens.”
On Tuesday, Romney issued a statement after voting to open debate on the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is fully offset and follows the previously released bipartisan proposal supported by Senate leaders from both parties and a bipartisan group of 20 senators. To view the text of the legislation, click here.
Highlights of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act:
This bipartisan legislation provides a total of over $13 billion in federal funding to bolster public safety and innovative programs to help stop tragedies before they occur, including through substantial investments in mental health, school safety, and state-led crisis intervention programs. The cost of the bill is offset, and according to the Congressional Budget Office the legislation will reduce the deficit.
Crisis Intervention and Public Safety
- Supports State Crisis Intervention Efforts
- $750 million over 5 years in new Byrne-JAG grant funding, which will be distributed to all states to implement crisis intervention court proceedings and related programs or initiatives of their choosing.
- States that want to use this money to implement red flag laws must meet constitutional due process standards.
- States that choose not to implement red flag laws would not have their share of this funding reduced, and can use it for other qualifying programs like mental health, drug, and veterans courts.
- $150 million for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which provides free support to people in crisis, and thanks to an idea that originated in Utah, is rolling out its new three-digit 988 number nationwide this summer.
- Protects victims of domestic violence by ensuring court-convicted domestic abusers who are or were recently in a continuous serious relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with their victim cannot purchase a firearm. This has absolutely no impact on law-abiding citizens, and only affects court-convicted domestic abusers.
- Cracks down on illegal straw purchasers by making it a specific federal criminal offense to purchase, or conspire to purchase, a firearm for someone who is prohibited by law from purchasing a firearm.
- Improves the Existing Background Check System for Juveniles
- Includes juvenile mental health and criminal records in a background check, and provides for enhanced review of purchasers between 18-21 years old.
- Purchasers under 21 can continue to purchase a firearm immediately if the background check does not identify any disqualifying or possibly disqualifying juvenile records.
- Clarifies who must register as a federally licensed firearms dealer (FFL), and is therefore required to run background checks.
Statements of Support for the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act:
“Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital joins our colleagues at the Children’s Hospital Associating in endorsing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The legislation is a good first step to safeguard our children from gun violence and improve access to school and community-based mental health services, especially for those coping with traumatic experiences. We applaud the act’s investments in youth mental health, including: Medicaid provisions, including a review of state implementation of Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT); Telehealth guidance to improve access; and Funding for the pediatric mental health access program. The Intermountain West, and Utah in particular, is experiencing a pediatric mental health crisis. More Utah teens die from suicide than cancer, heart disease, birth defects, AIDS, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease combined, with firearms accounting for half of all suicide deaths. The provisions included in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act are necessary to address the national emergency in youth mental health and ensure our young people receive the support they need to live their healthiest lives possible.” — Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital
Utah Fraternal Order of Police: “In conjunction with the National Fraternal Order of Police and the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Utah Fraternal Order of Police announces our endorsement of the ‘Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.’ The National FOP and IACP have been actively engaged with senators from both parties to work on language that enhances crisis intervention, as well as engages is straw firearms purchases to those otherwise unable to possess firearms due to criminal histories. Taking on the issues of enhancing community safety while preserving the absolute rights of citizens to maintain their gun rights can be a fine line but we believe that this legislation balances those two issues well.” (President Brent Jex, Utah Fraternal Order of Police, 6/23/22)
National Alliance on Mental Illness: “NAMI applauds the work of a bipartisan group of Senators recognizing the urgent need to invest in mental health services for our nation’s youth and families. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act will expand mental health resources in schools and increase the availability of mental health care across the country.” (CEO Daniel Gillison, National Alliance on Mental Illness, 6/22/22)
National Domestic Violence Hotline: “The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act offers common sense reform on gun safety, including partially closing the ‘boyfriend loophole.’” (National Domestic Violence Hotline, 6/22/22)
National Association of Police Organizations: “This bill contains robust due process and legal protections for citizens to ensure that no individual who has the legal right to own and possess a firearm can be denied that Constitutional right… the Safer Communities Act will indeed help make our communities safer.” (National Association of Police Organizations, 6/23/22)
Supporters of this bipartisan legislation include the National Sheriffs’ Association, the National District Attorneys Association, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the American Hospital Association, the Children’s Hospital Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.