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First meaningful commonsense gun safety legislation passed in almost thirty years

By expanding background checks and extreme risk protection order laws and cracking down on gun traffickers, legislation will save lives

ICYMI – Senator Casey Op-Ed: I changed my stance on guns. I shouldn’t be the only one.

Washington, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is announcing Senate passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, commonsense gun safety legislation that will expand background checks for those under 21, fund states’ extreme risk protection order laws and crack down on gun traffickers. The legislation marks the first time the Senate has passed meaningful gun safety legislation in almost three decades. The bill also invests in mental health resources and school safety. Earlier this month, Senator Casey penned an Op-Ed in the Washington Post explaining his change in position on gun legislation following the Sandy Hook massacre and urging his colleagues in the Senate to do the same.

“The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is the most significant legislation to begin to tackle gun violence in nearly three decades. This bill will expand background checks, close loopholes that put guns in the hands of those who shouldn’t have them, crack down on gun traffickers, as well as invest in community violence programs to address the gun violence plaguing cities like Philadelphia,” said Senator Casey. “It also makes significant investments in mental health programs, particularly for children, to ensure people get the support they need. Americans deserve to feel safe in their schools, grocery stores, synagogues, churches and communities. Getting this bill to the President’s desk and signed into law will save lives.”

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act enhances background checks for those under 21, keeping guns out of the hands of young people who shouldn’t have them. Eighteen to 20-year-olds commit gun homicides at triple the rate of adults 21 years and older and firearm suicide rates among young people have increased 53 percent in the last decade. Guns are the leading cause of death for children and teens in the U.S. today. The legislation also closes the “boyfriend loophole” by prohibiting criminals convicted of domestic violence from owning a gun and funds implementation of state extreme risk protection order laws, which temporarily removes firearm access from who those who may be a risk to themselves or others, while respecting their due process. The bill addresses the scourge of gun violence in cities by cracking down on straw purchasing and gun trafficking and providing funding for community violence intervention and prevention initiatives.

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act also makes major investments in child and family mental health services by training community members and first responders on how to respond to people with mental health disorders and supporting implementation of the 9-8-8 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The bill also supports expanding children's mental health services, including through telehealth and in schools, and provides guidance to states on improving mental health services for kids delivered under Medicaid—policies from Senator Casey’s Kids’ Mental Health Improvement Act. This is particularly important given that suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10-14.