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NAPO provides statement on federal gun legislation

Posted by: jgomori Posted date: June 24, 2022

On June 21, a bipartisan group of senators lead by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) introduced a bipartisan gun reform bill, the Safer Communities Act. NAPO worked with Senator Cornyn’s staff during negotiations and as a framework was being agreed upon and we feel the bill addresses many of our concerns. The Senate passed the bill June 23 and it’s expected to be quickly taken up by the House.

NAPO has long been concerned with the intersection between untreated mental illness and violent crime and the bipartisan Safer Communities Act seeks to address this important issue through additional funding for law enforcement, schools, and behavior health services within our communities. In addition to significant funding for community- and school-based mental health and behavioral health services, this legislation will:

  • Authorize $750 million over five years for a new purpose area under the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) program to assist states and localities in implementing or enhancing crisis intervention programs from mental health courts to drug courts to assisted outpatient treatment courts and extreme risk protection programs. Importantly, states and localities can choose how to use this funding to best meet their communities’ needs, without any mandates or strings attached. This funding would be on top of normal annual appropriations for the Byrne JAG Program.
  • Authorize an additional $300 million for the STOP School Violence programs through Byrne JAG and the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) programs, to harden schools and assist in hiring and training School Resource Officers.
  • Provide resources to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), makes straw purchasing and gun trafficking, including across the border, explicit federal crimes, and enhances criminal penalties for those affiliated with a gang, cartel, or organized crime ring.
  • Update the definition of “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” to include individuals who have a current or recent continuing serious relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with their victim. Persons who fit this definition would have their right to purchase and possess firearms automatically restored after five years elapsed from the end of their criminal sentence if they had committed no further crimes of violence. At that time, their records would be automatically purged from NICS.
  • Provide 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.
  • Clarify that an individual who repeatedly buys and sells firearms to predominantly earn a profit must register as a Federal Firearm Licensee (FFL) but maintains protections for hobbyists and gun enthusiasts to privately sell their firearms without having to register as an FFL.

The Safer Communities Act does not place any restrictions on the types of guns, ammunition, or magazines that lawful citizens can purchase or possess.

Mental and behavioral health issues are a significant aspect of the crime and violence plaguing our communities and we hope that by providing robust resources to address these issues, both inside and outside of the criminal justice system, the Safer Communities Act will indeed help make our communities safer. NAPO appreciates Senators Cornyn and Murphy taking into consideration our priorities in the Safer Communities Act.

For more details, click on NAPO’s Statement on the Safer Communities Act below and a section-by-section of the bill.

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