Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) issued the following statement after the Senate passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, commonsense legislation to strengthen background checks, fund the implementation of red flag laws, close the “boyfriend loophole,” and invest in mental health care, including provisions Senator Cortez Masto led to fund more school-based mental health professionals.
“Throughout my Senate career, I’ve stood up for commonsense measures to reduce gun violence and prevent mass shootings like the one at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in my hometown of Las Vegas,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “This bipartisan bill makes real progress to reduce violence and keep our communities safe.”
Senator Cortez Masto has pushed to reduce gun violence, including through expanding background checks and other commonsense gun violence prevention measures. She has also been a strong advocate in the Senate for investing in mental health. The senator has introduced legislation to improve emergency service responses to mental health crises, fund virtual peer support behavioral health programs, ensure communities of color have access to mental health care, and help tribal access the resources they need to support those struggling with mental health or substance use issues. She also secured substantial increases in funding in the FY 2022 government funding package to address the shortage of school-based mental health professionals like psychologists, counselors, and social workers, including $950,000 for Clark County School District. She has led efforts in the Senate specifically to address the student mental health and suicide crisis.
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act includes:
- Support for State Crisis Intervention Orders: Provides robust funding to allow states to create and administer laws that help ensure deadly weapons are kept out of the hands of individuals a court has determined to be a significant danger to themselves or others, and for other purposes such as mental health courts, drug courts, and veterans courts.
- Funding for Student Mental Health and Supportive Services: Provides $1 billion to support mental health services in schools, a provision of Senator Cortez Masto’s that she fought to include. The bill also funds professional development grants for school counselors, psychologists, and social workers and invests in programs to expand mental health and supportive services in schools, including early identification and intervention programs and school-based mental health and wrap-around services. In addition, the bill provides significant funding to invest in pediatric mental health services outside of school settings.
- Support for in School Safety Programs: Provides funding to institute safety measures in and around schools, support school violence prevention efforts, and provide training to school personnel and students.
- Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence: Adds convicted domestic violence abusers in dating relationships to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), closing the “boyfriend loophole”.
- Violence Interruption Funding: Provides $250 million in funding for community-based violence prevention initiatives.
- Clarification of Definition of Federally Licensed Firearms Dealer: Cracks down on weapons dealers who illegally evade licensing requirements and clarifies which sellers need to register, conduct background checks, and keep appropriate records.
- Support for National Suicide Prevention Lifeline/9-8-8: Appropriates $150 million to support implementation of the 9-8-8 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, which provides 24/7, free and confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.
- Under 21 Enhanced Review Process: Requires an investigative period to review juvenile and mental health records, including checks with state databases and local law enforcement, for buyers under 21 years of age. The bill also provides additional funding to the FBI to administer new process checks in NICS and grants to help states upgrade criminal and mental health records.
- Penalties for Straw Purchasing: Creates federal straw purchasing and trafficking criminal offenses, allowing prosecutors to target dangerous illegal gunrunners.