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Beyer Hails “Most Important Gun Safety Law In Three Decades”

Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), co-lead on the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act and co-founder of the Suicide Prevention Task Force, today issued the following statement on the enactment of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, gun violence legislation passed by Congress on bipartisan votes in the Senate and House late last week, and signed into law by President Biden on Saturday:

“The bipartisan legislation just passed by Congress and signed by President Biden is the most important gun safety law in three decades.

“I am thrilled that this bill included measures modeled on legislation I have championed since taking office: the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, which will send money and guidance to states to fund the implementation of crisis orders. These commonsense measures empower family members and law enforcement to restrict access to guns, after due process, for those who pose a danger to themselves or others.

“The Safer Communities Act also finally closes the boyfriend loophole to prevent domestic violence-related gun deaths, enacts a federal gun trafficking statute, and effectively creates a waiting period for gun purchasers under the age of 21.

“The mental health funding in the law will help address our nation’s suicide crisis. Many mental health systems in this country are wildly underfunded, and the funding for communities and schools will do substantial good. That funding also includes $150 million for the launch of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 9-8-8, which I have championed with prior bipartisan legislation.

“Taken together, this law makes meaningful reforms to help reduce the deadliest forms of gun violence: mass shootings, community-based violence, and suicide. It will save many lives, and I am proud to have helped enact it.”

Congress passed this historic gun safety legislation in the wake of recent mass shootings in Uvalde, Buffalo, Tulsa, and dozens more American communities. Gun violence in the United States causes more than 45,000 deaths per year, a figure which includes 30 Americans murdered and over 70 more who die by suicide and accidental shootings every day.  

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act will help save lives by keeping weapons out of dangerous hands to curb gun violence across the country. It would also make investments in mental health for communities and schools. The bill includes:

  • Support for State Crisis Intervention Orders: Incentivizing states to implement extreme risk protection order laws to keep weapons out of the hands of individuals who pose a danger to themselves or others, modeled on extreme risk protection order legislation co-led by Beyer and sponsor Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA) since 2017.
  • Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence: Closing the boyfriend loophole by adding convicted abusers to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
  • Cracking Down on Gun Trafficking and Straw Purchases: Preventing dangerous individuals from illegally evading background checks by establishing new federal criminal offenses that cover straw purchasing and trafficking.
  • Enhanced Background Checks for Buyers Under 21: Requiring longer, enhanced background checks of up to ten days for gun buyers under 21 years of age.
  • Anti-Violence Community Initiatives: Providing $250 million in funding for community-based violence prevention initiatives. 
  • Child and Family Mental Health Services: Improving access to mental health services for children, youth and families through Medicaid, CHIP and other programs.
  • Investments in School Safety: Expanding mental health and supportive services in schools, including early identification and intervention programs.

Beyer is the author of the Assault Weapon Excise Act.