On Monday, July 11th, several Maryland county officials joined the White House in commemorating the recent passage of a bipartisan federal gun law.
The Safer Communities Act (S.2938) was signed into law on June 25th and represents a substantial shift toward viewing gun violence through a public health lens. President Joe Biden offered remarks during the commemoration discussing several of the Act’s provisions:
‘Today’s legislation is an important start. And here are the key things that it does: It provides $750 million in crisis intervention and red-flag laws so the parent, a teacher, a counselor can flag for the court that a child, a student, a patient is exhibiting violent tendencies, threatening classmates, or experiencing suicidal thoughts that makes them a danger to themselves and to others,’ said President Biden.
‘You know, this new law requiring — requires young people under 21 to [under]go enhanced background checks before purchasing a gun… It closes the so-called ‘boyfriend loophole.’ If you’re convicted of assault against your girlfriend or boy- — you can’t buy a gun. You can’t do it’
The President added, ‘this law includes the first-ever federal law that makes gun trafficking and straw purchases explicit federal crimes. It clarifies who needs to register as a federally licensed gun dealer and run background checks before selling a single weapon. It invests in anti-violence programs that work directly with the communities most at risk for gun crimes. And this law also provides funding vital for funding to address the youth mental health crisis in this country — including the trauma experienced by the survivors of gun violence.’
Everytown, an organization advocating for gun violence prevention, provides a more in-depth summary of the Safer Communities Act on its site:
Enhance Background Checks for Buyers Under 21
Establish an enhanced background check process and up to three-business-day investigative period for buyers under age 21 that will require checking with state law enforcement, local law enforcement, and either state or local courts before a sale proceeds. This strengthens current law that already stops a gun dealer from selling a handgun to a person under 21, and any gun to a person under 18.
Support State Red Flag Laws
Provide $750 million in much-needed funding over the next five years to support crisis intervention services, including the implementation of state Red Flag laws. The bill will also unlock an additional well-established existing funding stream to support the implementation of Red Flag laws.
Disarm Domestic Abusers
Expand the current prohibition preventing convicted domestic abusers from buying or possessing guns to include not only those who abused their spouses, but also those who abused their current or recent dating partners.
Clarify Who Must Run a Background Check
Clarify existing law on what it means to be “engaged in the business” of selling firearms, so that it is clearer when unlicensed people selling guns to strangers are required to obtain a Federal Firearms License and run background checks on all sales.
Crack Down on Gun Trafficking
Establish the first ever federal laws against interstate gun trafficking and straw purchasing to stop the flow of illegal guns into cities.
Fund Community Violence Intervention
The bill includes $250 million in dedicated funding for evidence-informed, community-based violence intervention programs that have been proven to reduce gun violence in the most affected communities using a public health approach.
Invest in Mental Health Services
Provide critical resources to expand community mental health services for children and families, fund school-based mental health and supportive services, invest in telehealth mental health services to expand access, and invest in community crisis intervention programs.
Provide School Safety Funding
Fund school violence prevention efforts, training, and the implementation of safety measures at primary and secondary schools.
In addition to providing more funding for local schools, the Act supports many measures adopted by Maryland’s counties, including Montgomery County’s crisis intervention services and Baltimore City’s trauma-informed care law and Safe Streets program. Likewise, during the commemorative event, President Biden was joined by Montgomery County Council Member Will Jawando and Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott, among many other local government representatives from across the country: