Category Archives: Gun Violence Prevention

FACT SHEET: President Biden’s Safer America Plan

New York City honors its police force in the Heroes Parade. While Republicans like to paint themselves as the “law and order” party – an image contradicted by January 6th and the aftermath, Democrats support law enforcement, community policing as well as criminal justice, gun safety. During the Summer, President Biden unveiled his Safer America Plan © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

With Republicans running campaigns based on increased crime rates and falsely charging “socialist liberal communist Democrats” with trying to “defund police” and supporting criminal justice, police reform and cashless bail, it bears noting that crime rates are rising in places ruled by Republicans as well as Democrats. (Nassau County, Long Island was America’s safest county of its size under Democrat County Executive Laura Curran; crime rates have risen 34 percent so far in 2022 under Republican Bruce Blakeman.)

Moreover, increase in crime rates reflects record levels of gun violence (a record 45,000 gun deaths in 2021, a rate that has hit records every year since Trump took over; per capita murder rates are 40% higher in states won by Trump than in those won by Joe Biden) as well as hate crimes and political violence that have accelerated with the rise of Trump and Trumpism bringing White Christo Fascism out of the shadows and into the mainstream. Trump basically gave permission for hate and political violence.

So, in addition to making it easier to buy assault weapons and refusing to raise the minimum age to 21, Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s response to the Uvalde school massacre was to send DNA kits to schools that parents can use to identify their children’s bodies AFTER they’ve been murdered rather than pass gun safety laws to proactively protect their lives. And while the Gun Lobby loves to dismiss the easy access to guns including weapons of war as a factor in America’s gun violence epidemic, and instead blame mental illness, Republicans at the federal and at state level (Texas) have voted against funding mental health services in schools and communities.

The reality is that whereas Democrats have supported law enforcement, Republicans have been the ones to cut funding: Trump wanted to rescind aid to police in sanctuary cities and the Republican Sedition Caucus in Congress is calling for ending funding to the FBI. While Republicans make a pretense of being the party of “law and order, – and work to overrule , overturn police reform and cashless bail , and repeal gun safety legislation – two words make clear the hypocrisy: January Sixth. In point of fact, President Biden released his Safer America Plan this summer. The White House provided this fact sheet – Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Biden knows what works to make our communities safer: investing in community policing and crime prevention. We need to fund police who walk the beat, know the neighborhood, are accountable to those they are sworn to serve, and build community trust and safety. We need to invest in mental health and substance use treatment services, crisis responders, and social workers to reduce the burden on police officers, connect people with community resources, and prevent violent crime. We need to expand community violence interventions – led by trusted messengers breaking the cycle of violence and trauma. We need to enforce our commonsense gun laws, require background checks for all gun sales in order to keep firearms out of the hands of felons and domestic abusers, and ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines – weapons of war that have no place in our communities.
 
President Biden has taken action to make our communities safer during his first 18 months in office. He has funded the police and issued an Executive Order to improve police accountability. President Biden has taken more executive action to tackle gun violence than any other president at this point in their Administration, including by reining in the proliferation of ghost guns and cracking down on gun traffickers and rogue gun dealers. President Biden is the first president in nearly 30 years to bring together Members of Congress from both parties to take action on gun violence, signing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The President also secured Senate confirmation of career prosecutor Steve Dettelbach to serve as Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), empowering this law enforcement agency with its first confirmed leader since 2015. And, the President has made unprecedented investments in community-led crime prevention and intervention.
 
The President believes we can and must do more to reduce crime and save lives. On July 21, President Biden announced his Safer America Plan to build on the progress he has made to reduce gun violence.
 
Today, the President is providing greater details regarding the Safer America Plan. President Biden’s fiscal year 2023 budget requests a fully paid-for new investment of approximately $35 billion to support law enforcement and crime prevention – in addition to the President’s $2 billion discretionary request for these same programs. The Safer America Plan details how this $37 billion will be used to save lives and make communities safer.
 
Specifically, the Plan:

  1. Funds the police and promotes effective prosecution of crimes affecting families today, including by funding 100,000 additional police officers who will be recruited, trained, hired, and supervised consistent with the standards in the President’s Executive Order to advance effective, accountable community policing in order to enhance trust and public safety;
     
  2. Invests in crime prevention and a fairer criminal justice system, including by investing $20 billion in services that address the causes of crime and reduce the burdens on police so they can focus on violent crime, and by incentivizing the reform of laws that increase incarceration without redressing public safety;
     
  3. Takes additional commonsense steps on guns to keep dangerous firearms out of dangerous hands, including by calling on Congress to require background checks for all gun sales and ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

 

1. Fund the Police and Promote Effective Prosecution of Crimes Affecting Families Today 

Fund the Police with the Resources They Need For Effective, Accountable Community Policing
 
As President Biden said during his State of the Union Address, “We should all agree the answer is not to defund the police. It’s to fund the police. Fund them with the resources and training they need to protect our communities.” We cannot abandon our streets, and we should not have to choose between safety, public trust, and equal justice. Instead, we can protect our communities and restore trust by investing in accountable, equitable, evidence-based, constitutional policing and other law enforcement practices. In May 2022 President Biden signed an Executive Order on Advancing Effective, Accountable Policing and Criminal Justice Practices to Enhance Public Trust and Public Safety (Executive Order 14074), which advances effective, accountable community policing in order to enhance trust and public safety. Through the Executive Order, the President mandated policing reforms and best practices for federal law enforcement officials. President Biden’s Safer America Plan would not only increase funding for police across the country—it would also extend the Executive Order’s reforms and best practices to state and local law enforcement. The Plan will:
 
Put 100,000 additional officers for effective accountable, community policing on our streets.  The Safer America Plan will provide the investment necessary to recruit, train, support, and manage 100,000 additional police officers for effective, accountable community policing over the next five years. Specifically, the Plan calls on Congress to appropriate $10.877 billion in mandatory funding over five years for the COPS Hiring Program, which, combined with the President’s discretionary funding proposal for this program, will fully fund this goal with $12.817 billion in total. These funds will be used to get officers out of their stations and squad cars and into the community, walking the beat on foot patrols that have been shown to enhance officer morale, improve community relations, and have a deterrent effect on crime.
 
These new funds will incentivize state and local police departments to undertake commonsense reforms the President required of federal law enforcement agencies in May in Executive Order 14074. These reforms include banning chokeholds and carotid holds except where deadly force is authorized; training officers in de-escalation tactics to prevent the unnecessary use of force; restricting the use of no-knock warrants; requiring that body cameras be activated when conducting arrests and searches and when on patrol; submitting data to the new National Law Enforcement Accountability Database that the Justice Department will create; and undertaking other consensus reforms. We will also prioritize funding for officers that are representative of the communities they are sworn to serve (including recruits who live in or are from the community), and we will require that officers hired with federal funds be properly screened, including to ensure that they do not have a history of termination or resignation under investigation for serious misconduct from another police department.
 
Support state, local, Tribal, and territorial officers with the high-quality training the President has already mandated at the federal level by the Executive Order. Training varies widely across states and across law enforcement agencies. The Plan will fund training that enhances accountability, transparency, and the well-being of state and local officers and the communities they are sworn to serve. That includes an infusion of resources to enhance evidence-based training of law enforcement on topics including crime control and deterrence tactics, community engagement, use of force, interacting with people with disabilities, responding to persons in mental health crisis and to domestic violence calls, responding to First Amendment protected public protest activity, and more. The Plan will also fund the purchase and operation of body-worn cameras. The Plan calls on Congress to appropriate $1 billion over five years for these purposes. These funds will also be used to incentivize state and local law enforcement agencies to implement reforms such as those discussed above that the President required of federal law enforcement agencies in Executive Order 14074.
 
Recruit and retain police officers who demonstrate a commitment to honorably serving and protecting. We ask police to put their lives on the line to keep us and our loved ones safe. Front-line officers and chiefs around the country have made clear that we need to do more to recruit and retain officers who honorably serve as guardians of their communities. We also need to support agencies in developing flexible employment opportunities so that the profession meets the needs of a 21st century workforce and can continue to attract the best candidates at the state and local level who will meet and exceed the effective, accountable community policing standards mandated for federal law enforcement in the Executive Order. To attract and retain this high-quality workforce, President Biden’s Safer America Plan will fund bonuses for retention; provide student loan repayment, tuition reimbursement, and higher education grant programs to incentivize service-minded candidates, including women and individuals from underrepresented communities, to become officers; support pilot programs to explore more flexibility in scheduling and work arrangements; and expand mental health and wellness care for our police officers. The Plan calls on Congress to appropriate $750 million over five years for these purposes, and require that grant recipients report to the Attorney General and make public any use of funds to pay bonuses.
 
Ensure that new resources for law enforcement reach not only our biggest cities but also our small cities and towns. Smaller agencies often lack the personnel and resources to stay abreast of the latest evidence-based practices in policing, and lack internal capacity to identify and access grant and high-quality training opportunities. The Safer America Plan will set aside a minimum of $300 million per year of the funding described above to exclusively support small law enforcement agencies.
 
Clear Court Backlogs and Solve Murders So We Can Take Shooters and Other Violent Criminals Off the Streets
 
A small number of individuals are responsible for a disproportionate share of homicides and gun violence in our cities. The federal government will help state and local law enforcement in cities across the country take these criminals off our streets – and keep them off our streets. That’s why the President’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget proposal includes funding to ensure that federal law enforcement can show up and support state and local law enforcement. For example, the President’s budget request includes $2.8 billion for the U.S. Attorney’s Offices, an increase of 15% over FY22 enacted. This funding will increase the number of attorneys in these offices by 10%, increasing the federal government’s capacity to ramp up prosecutions of people who commit shootings and other violent crimes. The President’s budget also includes funding to hire 195 Deputy U.S. Marshals to help state and local law enforcement take violent fugitives off our streets, and nearly 100 additional administrative staff to relieve administrative burdens currently placed on Deputy U.S. Marshals so they can be re-deployed to the field full time.
 
In February, the Attorney General directed U.S. Attorneys to increase resources dedicated to district-specific violent crime strategies, such as New York City’s Gun Violence Strategic Partnership. The Safer America Plan will provide the federal government and cities with additional resources to support these strategies.
 
The Plan calls on Congress to appropriate $2.67 billion over five years for the following purposes:
 
Provide communities with funding they need to set up task forces to bring down the homicide and gun violence rate. These task forces will regularly convene federal, state, and local law enforcement to share intelligence, especially on repeat shooters, and coordinate efforts to successfully arrest, detain, and prosecute individuals committing homicides and gun violence. This funding will help police departments in communities to: hire critical personnel, including a task force coordinator, additional forensic analysts, and staff to write and process warrants for individuals suspected of committing violent crimes; pay for overtime and hire additional law enforcement officers, as needed, to execute on the work of the task force; provide life-saving equipment for officers in the field, like bullet-proof vests; and purchase forensic equipment and materials to analyze DNA, fingerprints, and data from bodycams, CCTV, and social media, while respecting privacy interests and civil rights. The Plan will also authorize the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Marshals Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, and U.S. Attorney’s Offices) to hire additional personnel to staff these task forces.
 
Equip communities with additional technology and personnel they need to quickly identify and investigate shooting incidents and image every bullet or casing recovered in the city and enhance the capacity of ATF to make ballistic matches. Additional resources for these cities include National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN) ballistics imaging machines and personnel needed to operate these machines, acoustic gunshot detection technology, gunshot residue forensics technology and analyst staff, and firearm forensics evidence collection technicians. The Plan will also call on Congress to authorize significant enhancement of ATF’s National NIBIN Correlation and Training Center to expand the number of jurisdictions it services.
 
Clear court backlogs and improve pretrial supervision in order to improve public safety. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented backlog in courts’ processing of criminal cases, with courts forced to delay or dismiss cases due to lack of capacity. We need to ensure courts have the resources to fully and fairly assess people accused of crimes and detain those who are too dangerous to be released to the community, consistent with due process requirements; to process cases and ensure accountability for criminal conduct; and to effectively supervise people upon release. The Safer America Plan invests in the technology and data systems modernization necessary to ensure that the justice system runs efficiently and with the most current data, such as case management systems that effectively integrate pre-trial services, judicial, and law enforcement records; virtual access and notification systems to facilitate remote check-ins and hearings as appropriate and beneficial for all involved; or scheduling software to manage the increased volume of cases. The Plan also provides emergency funding to support pretrial and post-conviction supervision staffing and systems, ensuring that persons on release are appropriately monitored and given assistance with the employment, health, and housing services that are shown to prevent recidivism.
 
Crack Down on Other Serious Crimes Affecting Families Today
 
The Safer America Plan includes several legislative fixes needed to address emerging crime trends, target resources at violent crime, and support commonsense criminal justice reform. To crack down on serious crime, the Plan will:
 
Impose tough penalties on all forms of fentanyl. Over 100,000 people have died from drug overdoses in the past 12 months, many of them from the synthetic opioid fentanyl. The federal government regulates fentanyl as a Schedule I drug, meaning it is subject to strict regulations and criminal penalties. But drug suppliers have found a loophole: they can easily alter the chemical structure of fentanyl—creating “fentanyl related substances”—to enhance the drug’s psychoactive properties and try to evade regulation of fentanyl. The Drug Enforcement Administration and Congress temporarily closed this loophole, but it will reopen in January 2023 unless Congress acts. The Safer America Plan includes the Administration’s 2021 proposal to permanently schedule all fentanyl related substances into Schedule I so traffickers of these deadly substances face the penalties they deserve.
 
Crack down on organized retail theft. Late 2021 saw an increase in high-profile incidents of organized retail theft around the country. In these incidents, crime rings recruit people to storm a brick-and-mortar store together and quickly steal high-value products for resale online. To recruit people to perpetrate the thefts and the resale, these organized theft rings typically target minors, individuals under financial duress, and individuals with substance use disorders. To tackle organized retail theft, the plan calls on Congress to pass legislation to require online marketplaces, such as Amazon, to verify third-party sellers’ information, and to impose liability on online marketplaces for the sale of stolen goods on their platforms.


2. Invest in Crime Prevention and A Fairer Criminal Justice System  

Fund Other Services to Address the Causes of Crime and Reduce the Burdens on Police Officers
 
Today, police are too often asked to respond to situations that require a mental health care provider or a social worker, not law enforcement.
 
When it comes to mental health, we know that people experiencing mental health challenges are more likely to be the victims than the perpetrators of a violent crime. Policing is not the answer to these challenges – fully funded mental health and substance use disorder services and supports are the answer. That’s why the Biden Administration has put forward a plan to transform how the nation understands and treats mental health needs. As just one piece of this plan, this July the Biden Administration launched the 988 crisis response line so people experiencing suicidal ideation or another behavioral health crisis can reach out for emergency help from a health professional instead of calling 911. The President’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget also requests an additional $700 million to expand crisis centers and crisis response so people experiencing a behavioral health crisis have a place to call and a place to go.
 
The Safer America Plan further expands the prevention and intervention strategies we know will reduce violent crime and ease the burden on police officers so they can focus on policing. This includes:
 
Helping states, cities, Tribes, and territories advance prevention strategies and invest in mental health, substance use disorder, homelessness and other services to prevent crime and reduce the burden on police. The Plan establishes a new $15 billion over 10 years Accelerating Justice System Reform grant program that jurisdictions can use to advance strategies that will 1) prevent violent crime and/or 2) ease the burden on police officers so they do not have to respond to non-violent situations that may not merit police intervention. Doing so not only enhances public safety, but also delivers evidence-based criminal justice reform that advances racial equity. For example, jurisdictions may choose to use these funds to:

  • Expand drug courts that divert individuals charged with drug possession alone into mandatory treatment and harm reduction services instead of incarceration, as well as other alternative courts such as mental health courts and veterans courts;
     
  • Expand co-responder or alternate responder programs so calls that should be answered by mental health or substance use disorder providers or social workers – alone or in partnership with police – are not solely the responsibility of law enforcement;
     
  • Increase mental health and substance use disorder services, including by training existing professionals to become certified in cognitive behavioral therapy (which helps people improve their response to stress and reduce impulsivity), trauma-informed therapy, and other evidence-based treatments effective at addressing mental health problems, disruptive behaviors, and exposure to or risk of violence;
     
  • Support teenagers and young adults with paid jobs during the summer and school year, out-of-school enrichment programs, and mentoring;
     
  • Support built environmental improvement and design strategies proven to reduce violent crime in high-risk neighborhoods (for example, improved lighting in priority areas, crafting safe passage routes for students to walk to school, and vacant and/or abandoned lot and building remediation);
     
  • Provide housing and other supportive social services to individuals who are homeless, including those displaced due to victimization; and
     
  • Increasing job training, employment, housing, and other stabilizing services and opportunities for people returning home from jail and prison.

In addition, in order to receive these critical grants, jurisdictions must repeal mandatory minimums for non-violent crimes and change other laws that contribute to increased incarceration rates without making our communities safer. The Plan calls on Congress to appropriate $14.7 billion in mandatory funding for this new program, which will add on to the $300 million request in the President’s FY23 discretionary budget to fully fund this effort.
 
Expand community violence interventions with $5 billion over 10 years. The Plan appropriates $5 billion to expand and build the capacity of focused deterrence, violence interruption, and hospital-based programs. Community violence intervention (CVI) programs are effective because they leverage trusted messengers who work directly with individuals most likely to engage in or be victimized by gun violence, intervene in conflicts, and connect people to social, health and wellness, and economic services to reduce the likelihood of violence as an answer to conflict.
 
Reform Our Justice System
 
To support commonsense criminal justice reform, the Safer America Plan will:
 
End the crack-powder disparity and make the fix retroactive. The Safer America Plan calls on Congress to end once and for all the racially discriminatory sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine offenses—as President Biden first advocated in 2007—and make that change fully retroactive. This step would provide immediate sentencing relief to the 10,000 individuals, more than 90 percent of whom are Black, currently serving time in federal prison pursuant to the crack/powder disparity.
 
Help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully reenter society. The Safer America Plan lifts almost all restrictions on eligibility and access to vital federal benefits and programs that people need to get back on their feet after serving their time and leaving incarceration. For example:

  • Federal law currently includes a lifetime ban on eligibility for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits for people with prior drug felonies. States can modify or waive the ban, but restrictions remain across the country. The Safer America Plan calls on Congress to repeal the federal ban, nullifying state laws and regulations restricting eligibility based on conviction history, and to allow people to begin applying for benefits during the last 30 days of their incarceration. This would help Americans returning home make ends meet for their families and increase public safety. According to a 2017 Harvard study, access to SNAP and TANF benefits reduces the risk of reincarceration within one year by 10%.
     
  • Currently, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments are suspended during incarceration and terminate when incarceration exceeds 12 months. Although SSI allows people to apply 30 days pre-release, many are not aware of their ability to apply or cannot access the resources to do so, and SSDI allows applications only one month after release. The Safer America Plan would suspend rather than terminate SSI and SSDI during incarceration, automatically restart payments upon release, and allow new applicants to apply for SSI and SSDI benefits 90 days before release.
     
  • The Plan calls on Congress to eliminate the ban on paying for health services during the last 30 days of a person’s incarceration. This would help Medicaid beneficiaries returning home from jail or prison begin the transition to community care before release.

 
In addition, as part of the $15 billion Accelerating Justice System Reform grant program described above, states, cities, Tribes, and territories may use funding to provide the following services for individuals who are formerly or currently incarcerated: mental health and substance use disorder treatment, GED programs, and training and employment opportunities.
 
Promote commonsense reforms in the states. As noted above, the new $15 billion Accelerating Justice System Reform grant program will not only support crime prevention strategies; it will also incentivize state criminal justice reforms such as repealing mandatory minimums for non-violent crimes.


3. Take Additional Commonsense Steps to Keep Dangerous Guns out of Dangerous Hands 

After decades of congressional inaction, President Biden made historic progress with bipartisan support from Congress. In June, the President signed into law the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which will help keep dangerous guns out of dangerous hands. For example, the new law provides states with $750 million to invest in crisis interventions, including extreme risk protection order laws, and it requires enhanced background checks for gun purchasers under the age of 21. Earlier this month, Congress confirmed Steve Dettelbach to serve as Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), empowering this law enforcement agency with the confirmed leader it has lacked since 2015. Earlier this year, President Biden signed into law the NICS Denial Notification Act, which was included in the Violence Against Women (VAWA) reauthorization and requires federal officials to notify state and local law enforcement when individuals who are legally prohibited from purchasing firearms fail a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
 
But, when it comes to commonsense action to reduce gun crime, Congress has more work to do. Congress needs to give ATF the resources it needs to crack down on gun traffickers and gun dealers willfully violating the law. Last year, the U.S. Department of Justice launched five gun-trafficking strike forces to support state and local law enforcement in efforts to stop the trafficking of firearms across state lines. The President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 budget proposes $1.7 billion in discretionary funding – a 13% increase over the FY22 enacted level – for ATF to enforce our commonsense gun laws. This funding will be used to:

  • Hire more than 140 new agents, intel analysts, and other personnel, including personnel to staff the multijurisdictional gun trafficking strike forces the Justice Department launched last year. These strike forces crack down on significant firearms trafficking corridors like the Iron Pipeline – the illegal flow of guns sold in the south, transported up the East Coast, and found at crime scenes in cities from Baltimore to New York City.
     
  • Hire 160 new investigators to help ensure that Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) and manufacturers comply with the law. These investigators will help carry out the Department of Justice’s new policy, announced last year, of zero tolerance, absent extraordinary circumstances, for certain willful violations of the law by federally licensed firearms dealers that put public safety at risk.
     
  • Add 16 new positions to provide NIBIN correlation reviews and training for state and local law enforcement agencies nationwide. The NIBIN database holds millions of digital images of ballistics from crime scenes. A NIBIN search can link seemingly unrelated scenes, thereby making connections and filling in gaps to help law enforcement identify and hold shooters accountable.
     
  • Increase by more than 40% the funding for the National Tracing Center, which more than 8,400 law enforcement agencies across the United States use to trace firearms found at crime scenes. Funding will be used to upgrade technology and hire additional personnel.

 
In addition, the Safer America Plan includes the following measures, which would fully align with the Second Amendment:
 
Keep guns out of dangerous hands. The federal gun background check system is the best tool we have to keep guns out of the hands of people currently prohibited under federal law from purchasing these weapons – including felons and domestic abusers. The Plan will strengthen the background check system by requiring background checks for all gun sales, with limited exceptions. In addition, the Plan will close the terrorist, dating violence restraining order, stalking, and Charleston loopholes in our existing gun background check system, which make it easier for violent criminals to purchase firearms. And, the Plan will establish a national extreme risk protection order program and require safe storage of firearms.
 
Keeping especially dangerous firearms out of our communities. The Plan will ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. In addition, it will ban the manufacture, sale, or possession of unserialized firearms, often referred to as “ghost guns.”

FACT SHEET: Biden’s 21 Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence

President Biden has made historic progress on actions to reduce gun violence, including being the first president in almost 30 years to sign gun safety legislation, the bipartisan Safer Communities Act. Biden and gun safety activists recognize more has to be done – starting with banning assault weapons. Nonetheless, Biden has taken more executive action to reduce gun violence than any other president’s at this point in their Administration, the White House emphasizes. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc.

There is only so much a President who honors the Constitution can do unilaterally to reduce gun violence, especially faced with a radical, activist, reactionary Supreme Court and a paralyzed Congress. President Joe Biden has already achieved a landmark, bipartisan Safer Communities Act, but acknowledges that much more has to be done. Nonetheless Biden has signed 21 executive actions to reduce gun violence. Not enough? Elect more legislators at local, state and federal level who will pass sensible gun violence reform, including banning assault weapons and high-capacity ammo clips: This is from the White House:

President Biden has made historic progress on actions to reduce gun violence. To implement his comprehensive strategy to reduce gun crime, the Biden Administration has taken more executive action to reduce gun violence than any other president’s at this point in their Administration. Today, the President is celebrating the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the most significant gun violence reduction legislation to pass Congress in 30 years. ​

The Biden Administration will continue to use all of the tools at its disposal to address the epidemic of gun violence. The President’s FY 2023 budget proposes $32 billion in additional funding to fight crime, including $20.6 billion in discretionary funding for federal law enforcement and state and local law enforcement and crime prevention programs, an increase of 11% over FY22 enacted ($18.6 billion) and 18% over FY21 enacted ($17.5 billion). 

But there is so much more that can and must be done to save lives. The President will continue to urge Congress to take further legislative action to keep dangerous guns out of dangerous hands, including a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, strengthening background checks, and enacting safe storage laws.

Below are 21 ways the Biden Administration has already used executive action to make our communities safer:

Keeping Especially Dangerous Weapons and Repeat Shooters Off Our Streets

1. The Justice Department issued a final rule to rein in the proliferation of ghost guns, which are unserialized, privately made firearms that are increasingly being recovered at crime scenes.

2. The Attorney General directed every U.S. Attorney’s Office nationwide to increase resources dedicated to district specific violent crime strategies. 

3. The Justice Department issued a proposed rule to better regulate when devices marketed as firearm stabilizing braces effectively turn pistols into short-barreled rifles subject to the National Firearms Act.

Keeping Guns Out of the Wrong Hands

4. The Justice Department published model extreme risk protection order legislation to make it easier for states that want to adopt these red flag laws to do so. 

5. The Justice Department issued the first volume of its new, comprehensive report on firearms commerce and trafficking.

6. The Justice Department announced a new policy to underscore zero tolerance for willful violations of the law by federally licensed firearms dealers that put public safety at risk.

7. The Justice Department launched five new law enforcement strike forces focused on addressing significant firearms trafficking corridors that have diverted guns to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and Washington, D.C. 

8. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched a new paid media campaign featuring a series of public service announcements to reinforce the key message that a simple gun lock can save lives. 

9. The Departments of Defense (DOD), Health and Human Services (HHS), Homeland Security (DHS), Justice (DOJ), and Veterans Affairs (VA), as well as the Office of Emergency Medical Services within the Department of Transportation (DOT), announced that they will jointly create a plan for addressing lethal means safety awareness, education, training, and program evaluation. 

10. ATF issued a final rule clarifying firearms dealers’ statutory obligations to make available for purchase compatible secure gun storage or safety devices. 

Making Additional Progress to Reduce Community Violence

11. The President called for cities and states to use American Rescue Plan funding to reduce gun crime and other violent crime, including by investing in community violence interventions and prevention. Through May 2022, $10 billion in American Rescue Plan funds had been committed to public safety and violence prevention – including at least $6.5 billion in State and Local funds committed by more than half of states and more than 300 communities across the country.

12. Five federal agencies made changes to 26 different programs to direct vital support to community violence intervention programs as quickly as possible. For example:

• The National Institutes of Health announced funding through its Firearm Injury and Mortality Prevention Research grants for four community violence programs – including a place-based strategy involving repurposing vacant lots in Detroit, an evaluation of READI Chicago, a burnout prevention program for violence interrupters in Chicago, and a hospital-based violence intervention program focused on youth in Virginia. 

• The Justice Department announced $187 million for states and $85 million for localities through the Byrne JAG Program to support coordinated violence prevention and intervention; the Department explicitly encouraged the use of these funds for CVI. 

• The Department of Housing and Urban Development published a guide explaining to localities how Community Development Block Grants – a $3.4 billion annual funding stream –can be used to fund CVI strategies. 

• The Department of Education released a letter to state school associations on how 21st Century Learning Centers funds and Student Support and Academic enrichment programs – both billion-dollar formula grant funding streams – can be used to fund CVI strategies in schools.

13. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services hosted a webinar and published information to educate states on how they can use Medicaid to reimburse certain community violence intervention programs, like Hospital-Based Violence Interventions. Last year, Connecticut and Illinois enacted legislation that allows Medicaid to reimburse providers for hospital-based violence prevention services – the first two states in the country to pursue this approach. According to reporting by USA Today, “[t]he idea has been in the works for years, advocates say, but not until the Biden administration signaled that states could – and should – use Medicaid dollars to support these violence prevention programs have state lawmakers stepped up.”

14.  Senior White House staff established The White House Community Violence Intervention Collaborative, a 16-jurisdiction cohort of mayors, law enforcement, CVI experts, and philanthropic leaders committed to using American Rescue Plan funding or other public funding to increase investment in their community violence intervention infrastructure. 

Providing Law Enforcement with the Tools and Resources They Need to Reduce Gun Violence

15. The Justice Department announced $139 million in grants to local law enforcement that will put over 1,000 police officers on the beat through the COPS Office Hiring Program.

16. The Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) expanded the Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Firearms Technical Assistance Project (FTAP). 

Addressing the Root Causes of Gun Violence

17. The Department of Labor awarded $89 million through its Youth Build program to provide pre-apprenticeship opportunities for young people ages 16-24.

18. The Department of Labor awarded $20 million through its Workforce Pathways for Youth program to expand workforce development activities that serve youth ages 14-21 during “out of school” time (non-school hours).

19. The Department of Labor awarded $85.5 million to help formerly incarcerated adults and young people in 28 communities transition out of the criminal justice system and connect with quality jobs.

20. The Department of Labor awarded $25.5 million in Young Adult Reentry Partnership grants to organizations that will help provide education and training services to young adults between 18-24 who were previously involved with the justice system or who left high school before graduation. 

21. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program, awarded nearly $1 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) supplemental funding to support services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and their children.

Biden at Event Commemorating Passage of Safer Communities Act: ‘More Has To Be Done’

President Joe Biden at a White House ceremony marking the passage of the Safer Communities Act, the first significant gun safety legislation in almost 30 years: “This legislation is real progress, but more has to be done.  The provision of this new legislation is going to save lives.  And it’s proof that in today’s politics we can come together on a bipartisan basis to get important things done, even on an issue as tough as guns. And one more thing: It’s a call to action to all of us to do more.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc.

President Joe Biden signed the landmark Safer Communities Act – the first significant gun safety legislation in nearly 30 years – almost immediately after Congress  passed the legislation, in the few minutes before departing for the G7 summit in Europe. On July 11, in an event at the White House, he commemorated the passage, acknowledging the long struggle by activists and key figures in Congress, but said “more has to be done.”

This legislation is real progress, but more has to be done.  The provision of this new legislation is going to save lives.  And it’s proof that in today’s politics we can come together on a bipartisan basis to get important things done, even on an issue as tough as guns. And one more thing: It’s a call to action to all of us to do more.”

Here is a transcript of his remarks:

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everyone.  Doc, thank you.  Your heroism in treating the wounded children in Uvalde, many of whom you’ve known their whole lives — their whole lives — and treated them with normal child problems as a pediatrician, it’s something we’ll never forget.

And, Garnell, it’s good to see you again.  I know how tough it is.  A lot of people in here have been victims of gun violence — lost sons, daughters, husbands, wives.  They understand your pain.  And every time you stand up to talk about it, even for a good cause, it brings it all back like it happened yesterday.  But thank you for the courage to do it.

Jill and I will never forget the time we spent with you and your families. 

And I want to thank — thank the Vice President Harris and the Second Gentleman; and members of the Cabinet, eight of whom are here today; as well as mayors and elected officials from across the country.

I want to particularly thank the Governor of Illinois and the Mayor of Highland Park for being here.  We’ve had — (applause) — no, I mean it sincerely.  We had a number of conversations immediately after the attack in Highland Park.  And I’ve been impressed with the way they’ve handled things.  It’s been extraordinary.  And as the three of us have discussed, we have more to do.

I also want to thank the bipartisan group of senators who worked so hard to get this done, especially Senators Murphy — (applause); Sinema — (applause); Cornyn and Tillis.  (Applause.)  I hope it doesn’t get you in trouble mentioning your name.  Thank you for the courage. 

As well as all of the members of Congress who have worked on these issues for a long time, 80 of whom are with us today.  (Applause.) 

And I’m sorry Senators Schumer and Blumenthal can’t be here today, but they’re working from home, overcoming mild cases of COVID.

I know how hard it is to get things done because I know how hard it was to write the first gun legislation — at least the first from my career — that was passed nearly 30 years ago.  That’s how long ago it was.

And as I look out in this crowd, I see so many advocates and families, many of whom have become friends, whose lives have been shattered by gun violence and who have made it their purpose to save other lives.

I’ve spent so much time with so many of you over the years that we’ve actually become personal friends.  And I can’t thank you enough for your willingness to continue to fight for other families.

Nothing can bring back your loved ones, but you did it to make sure that other families don’t have to experience the same loss and pain that you’ve experienced.

And you have felt and you feel the price of inaction, that this has taken too long, with too much of a trail of bloodshed and carnage.  And I know public policy can seem remote, technical, and distant from our everyday lives.  But because of your work, your advocacy, your courage, lives will be saved today and tomorrow because of this.  (Applause.)

What we are doing here today is real, it’s vivid, it’s relevant.  The action we take today is a step designed to make our nation the kind of nation we should be.  It’s about the most fundamental of things — the lives of our children, of our loved ones. 

We face, literally, a moral choice in this country — a moral choice with profound, real-world implications.

Will we take wise steps to fulfill the responsibility to protect the innocent and while keeping faith with constitutional rights?

Will we match thoughts and prayers with action? 

I say yes.  (Applause.)  And that’s what we’re doing here today.  (Applause.)

Today is many things.  It’s proof that despite the naysayers, we can make meaningful progress on dealing with gun violence.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We have to do more than that!

THE PRESIDENT:  Because make no mistake — sit down.  You’ll hear what I have to say if you think —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We have to do more than that! 

THE PRESIDENT:  You —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We have to open an office in the White House.  (Inaudible.)  I’ve been trying to tell you this for years.  (Inaudible.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  President Biden!  Yeah!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  We have one.  Let me finish my comments.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Let him talk.  Let him talk.  No one — okay?

Because make no mistake about it: This legislation is real progress, but more has to be done.  The provision of this new legislation is going to save lives.  And it’s proof that in today’s politics we can come together on a bipartisan basis to get important things done, even on an issue as tough as guns.

And one more thing: It’s a call to action to all of us to do more — (applause) — to take away from the legislation, it is not — that’s not what we can do.  It’s to take the — the take-away from this is that now — now we’re opening to get much more done. 

Senator Murphy has said: When you look at the biggest social issues America has faced throughout our history, quote, “Success begets success.”  And that’s when you, quote, “finally move that mountain.”  You can — you can ignite a movement when you do that for more progress to follow. 

We have finally moved that mountain — a mountain of opposition, obstruction, and indifference that has stood in the way and stopped every effort at gun safety for 30 years in this nation.  (Applause.)

And now is the time to galvanize this movement, because that’s our duty to the people of this nation. 

That’s what we owe those families in Buffalo, where a grocery store became a killing field.

It’s what we owe those families in Uvalde, where an elementary school became a killing field. 

That’s what we owe those families in Highland Park, where, on July 4th, a parade became a killing field.

And that’s what we owe all those families represented here today and all over this country the past many years, across our schools, places of worship, workplaces, stores, music festivals, nightclubs, and so many other everyday places that have turned into killing fields. 

     And that’s what we owe the families all across this nation where, every day, tragic killings that don’t make the headlines are more than passing mention — a little more than passing mention in the local news.  (Applause.) 

Neighborhoods and streets have been turned into killing fields as well.

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.

Fort Hood, Texas, 2009: 13 dead, 30 more injured.

Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, 1918 [2018]: 17 dead, 17 injured.

In both places, countless others suffering with invisible wounds.

In both places, red-flag laws could have stopped both those shooters.  (Applause.)

You know, this new law requiring — requires young people under 21 to [under]go enhanced background checks before purchasing a gun. 

How many more mass shootings do we have to see where a shooter is 17, 18 years old and able to get his hands on a weapon and go on a killing spree?

You know, 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.  (Applause.)

According to a recent study, in over 50 percent of mass shootings, the shooter shot a family member or a partner.

So if we keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, we can save the lives of their partners, and we can also stop more mass shootings.

One, this law includes the first-ever federal law that makes gun trafficking and straw purchases explicit federal crimes.  (Applause.)

It clarifies who needs to register as a federally licensed gun dealer and run background checks before selling a single weapon.  (Applause.)

It invests in anti-violence programs that work directly
with the communities most at risk for gun crimes.  (Applause.) 

And this law also provides funding vital for funding to address the youth mental health crisis in this country — (applause) — including the trauma experienced by the survivors of gun violence.

It will not save every life from the epidemic of gun violence, but if this law had been in place years ago, even this last year, lives would have been saved.

It matters.  It matters.  But it’s not enough, and we all know that.

In preparation for today’s signing, I asked to send me their story — people to send me their stories about their experience with gun violence.  I received over 2,500 responses in 24 hours.  I didn’t get to read them all, but I read some.

A 17-year-old wrote me saying, quote, “A school shooting sophomore year shattered every sense of normalcy I’ve ever felt.  Almost three years later, I still have nightmares.”

A 24-year-old wrote about growing up in what was a, quote, “seemingly endless era of gun violence.”

A 40-year-old wrote me about two friends shot and killed by abusive partners and former partners.

Someone else wrote me about a 6-year-old child who was sitting near his father’s coffin, was asking, quote, “Why is Daddy in that scary box?  Wake up, Daddy.  Wake up Daddy.”  His father had been gunned down. 

I read these stories and so many others.  So many others.  And, you know, I see the statistics.  Over 40,000 people died from gunshot wounds last year in the United States, 25,000 by suicide.

I think: Can this really be the United States of America?  Why has it come to this?  We all know a lot of the reasons: gun lobby, gun manufacturers, special interest money, the rise of hyper-partisan tribal politics in the country where we don’t debate the issues on the merits and we just rather turn on each other from our corners and attack the other side.

Regardless, we’re living in a country awash in weapons of war — weapons that weren’t designed to hunt are not being used — the weapons designed that they’re purchasing are designed as weapons of war to take out an enemy.

What is the rationale for these weapons outside war zones?  Some people claim it’s for sport or to hunt.  But let’s look at the facts: The most common rounds fired from an AR-15 move almost twice as fast as that from a handgun.  Coupled with smaller, lighter bullets, these weapons maximize the damage done coupled with those bullets, and human flesh and bone is just torn apart.

And as difficult as it is to say, that’s why so many people and some in this audience — and I apologize for having to say it — need to provide DNA samples to identify the remains of their children.  Think of that. 

It’s why trauma surgeons who train for years for these moments know it’s unlikely that someone shot with a high-powered assault weapon will make it long enough for the ambulance to get them to the hospital.

It’s why these scenes of destruction are resembling nothing like a weekend hunting trip for deer or elk.

And yet, we continue to let these weapons be sold to people with no training or expertise.

Case in point: America has the finest fighting force in the world.  We provide our service members with the most lethal weapons on Earth to protect America.

We also require them to receive significant training before they’re allowed to use these weapons.

We require extensive background checks on them and mental health assessments on them.  (Applause.)

We require that they learn how to lock up and store these weapons responsibly.  (Applause.)

We require our military to do all that.  These are commonsense requirements.  But we don’t require the same commonsense measures for a stranger walking into a gun store to purchase an AR-15 or some weapon like that.

     It makes no sense.  Assault weapons need to be banned.  They were banned.  (Applause.)  I led the fight in 1994.  And then, under pressure from the NRA and the gun manufacturers and others, that ban was lifted in 2004.

In that 10 years it was law, mass shootings went down.  When the law expired in 2004 and those weapons were allowed to be sold again, mass shootings tripled. 

They’re the facts.  I’m determined to ban these weapons again and high-capacity magazines — (applause) — that hold 30 rounds and that let mass shooters fire hundreds of bullets in a matter of minutes.  I’m not going to stop until we do it.

     Here’s another thing we should do: We should have safe storage laws, requiring personal liability for not locking up your gun.  (Applause.)

The shooter in Sandy Hook came from a home full of guns and assault weapons that were too easy to access — weapons he used to kill his mother and then murder 26 people, including 20 innocent first graders.

If you own a weapon, you have a responsibility to secure it and keep it under lock and key.  (Applause.)

Responsible gun owners agree: No one else should have access to it, so lock it up, have trigger locks.  And if you don’t and something bad happens, you should be held responsible.  (Applause.)

I have four shotguns; two are mine and two are my deceased son’s.  They’re locked up, lock and key.  Every responsible gun owner that I know does that.

We should expand background checks to better keep guns out of the hands of felons, fugitives, and those under domestic violence restraining orders.  (Applause.) 

Expanded background checks are something that the vast majority of Americans, including the majority of gun owners, agree on.

My fellow Americans, none of what I’m talking about infringes on anyone’s Second Amendment rights.

I’ve said it many times: I support the Second Amendment.

But when guns are the number one killer of children in the United States of America — let me say that again — guns are the number one killer of children in the United States.  More than car accidents.  More than cancer.  And over the last two decades, more high-school [school-age] children have died from gun shots than on-duty police officers and active-duty military combined.  Think of that.  Then we can’t just stand by.  We can’t let it happen any longer.

With rights come responsibilities.

Yes, there’s a right to bear arms, but we also have the right to live freely — (applause) — without fear for our lives in a grocery store, in a classroom, on a playground, at a house of worship, in a store, at a workplace, a nightclub, a festival, in our neighborhoods and our streets.  (Applause.)

The right to bear arms is not an absolute right that dominates all others.

The perennial price for living in a community with others is being neighbors, of being fellow citizens, is that we obey the laws and customs that ensure what that Fra- — what the Framers called “domestic tranquility.”

That’s what civilization is.  That’s what we have been at our best.  That’s what America must always be: a place where we preserve the rights but fulfill our responsibilities.

I know this: There can be no greater responsibility than to do all we can to ensure the safety of our families, our children, and our fellow Americans.

When I spoke to the nation after Uvalde, I shared how a grandmother who had lost her granddaughter gave me and Jill a handwritten letter.  We spent four hours, almost five hours with her.

And I read it.  It reads, quote, “Erase the invisible line that is dividing our nation to come up with a solution and fix what is broken and to make the changes that are necessary to prevent this from happening again.”  End of quote.

That’s why we’re here.  That’s why we’re here.

Today, I want to thank those in Congress, both Democrat and Republicans, who erased that invisible line dividing our nation and moved us forward on gun safety.

It’s an important step.  (Applause.)  And now we must look forward.  We have so much more work to do.

And I might add, there is $75 million in there for mental health reasons — a whole range of other things I’m not going to take time to go into today, but it’s important.  (Applause.)

May God bless all of us with the strength to finish the work left undone and — on behalf of the lives we’ve lost and the lives we can save. 

May God bless you all.  And may God protect our troops.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

NYS Gov Hochul Signs Landmark Legislation to Strengthen Gun Laws, Bolster Restrictions on Concealed Carry in Response to SCOTUS Decision

Legislation (S.51001/A.41001) Restricts the Carrying of Concealed Weapons in List of Sensitive Locations

Institutes a Default of No Concealed Carry on Private Property and Businesses Unless Deemed Permissible by Property Owners

Establishes New Eligibility Requirements and Expands Disqualifying Criteria for Those Seeking Concealed Carry Permits

Enhances Safe Storage Requirements, Extends Requirements to Vehicles

Requires Backgrounds Checks for All Ammunition Purchases

Amends Body Armor Purchase Ban to Include Hard Body Armor Used by Suspect in Buffalo Shooting

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul has been steadfast in combating the epidemic of gun violence in the state and nation. Back in October 2021, she signed landmark legislation to crack down on “ghost guns,” untraceable firearms used by criminals to evade background checks. Immediately upon the Supreme Court striking down the state’s 111-year law restricting concealed carry permits, she called back the state legislature for a special session to enact new, landmark legislation to strengthen the state’s gun laws and concealed carry regulations to conform with the radical decision © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Barely a week after the Supreme Court struck down New York State’s 111-year old law regulating concealed gun carry permits, Governor Kathy Hochul signed landmark legislation to strengthen New York’s gun laws and bolster restrictions on concealed carry weapons. This package of new laws — drafted in close collaboration with the Legislature — is devised to align with the Supreme Court’s recent decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen. As a result of this decision, the State has taken steps to address the consequences of the Supreme Court decision and the resulting increase in licenses and in the number of individuals who will likely purchase and carry weapons in New York State.

“A week ago, the Supreme Court issued a reckless decision removing century-old limitations on who is allowed to carry concealed weapons in our state — senselessly sending us backward and putting the safety of our residents in jeopardy,” Governor Hochul said. “Today, we are taking swift and bold action to protect New Yorkers. After a close review of the NYSRPA vs. Bruen decision and extensive discussions with constitutional and policy experts, advocates, and legislative partners, I am proud to sign this landmark legislative package that will strengthen our gun laws and bolster restrictions on concealed carry weapons. I want to thank Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Heastie, and all of our partners in the Legislature for their willingness to take on this critical issue with urgency and precision. I will continue to do everything in my power to combat the gun violence epidemic.”

“Keeping the people of New York State safe is our greatest priority and I am proud to stand with the Governor and Legislature in enacting the measures put into place today,” Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado said. “With this action, New York has sent a message to the rest of the country that we will not stand idly by and let the Supreme Court reverse years of sensible gun regulations.”

Research has shown that violent crime involving firearms increases by 29 percent when people are given the right to carry handguns, caused in part by a 35 percent increase in gun theft and a 13 percent decrease in the rate that police solved cases. Today’s legislative package furthers the State’s compelling interest in preventing death and injury by firearms by:

  • Expanding on eligibility requirements in the concealed carry permitting process, including completed firearm training courses for applicants.
  • Allowing the state to regulate and standardize training for license applicants.
  • Restricting the carrying of concealed weapons in sensitive locations and establishing that private property owners must expressly allow a person to possess a firearm, rifle, or shotgun on their property. Individuals who carry concealed weapons in sensitive locations or in contravention of the authority of an owner of private property will face criminal penalties.
  • Establishing state oversight over background checks for firearms and regular checks on license holders for criminal convictions.
  • Creating a statewide license and ammunition database.
  • Strengthening and clarifying the law relating to the sale of body armor to include hard body armor, such as the type worn by the suspect in the Buffalo shooting and the safe storage of firearms.

The law will take effect on September 1, 2022. In addition, an appeals board will be created for those applicants whose license or renewal is denied or revoked, which will take effect on April 1, 2023.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said,”In response to the Supreme Court’s decision implying that guns are more important than lives in this country, we are passing legislation to ensure that New York State has safe and responsible gun laws. States are the last line of defense, which is why we are stepping up to protect New York from being easily flooded with concealed weapons and keeping firearms out of the wrong hands. These measures, in addition to the previous anti-gun violence legislation we passed, are vital in a time when there are more guns than people in America. New York will continue to prioritize people’s safety and lives, and I thank my conference, Speaker Heastie, and Governor Hochul for their partnership.”

Speaker Carl Heastie said, “In the wake of the Supreme Court’s dismantling our more than 100-year-old sensible concealed carry law, the Assembly Majority worked tirelessly alongside our Senate colleagues and the governor to ensure that our state has the strongest gun laws possible. We will not let this ruling make our streets less safe. Here in New York, the right to feel safe in public spaces is not secondary to unfettered access to firearms. And when this right-wing conservative court inevitably continues its assault on our democracy, we will remain as committed as ever to protecting the rights of every New Yorker.”

Last week, the Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision ended a 100-year legal precedent requiring individuals to demonstrate “proper cause” to obtain a license to carry a concealed firearm. The existing law gave discretion to the state and its licensing officers in determining what constitutes “proper cause”, which the court cited as unconstitutional.

Governor Hochul has worked closely with the legislature to devise the following Legislation (S.51001/ A.41001), which carefully and strictly regulate concealed carry weapons while staying within the confines of the NYSRPA vs. Bruen decision.

Sensitive locations and Private Property

Certain locations are always unsafe for guns, and this legislation makes concealed carry in sensitive locations a punishable crime. Sensitive locations include:

  • Airports
  • Bars and restaurants that serve alcohol
  • Courthouses
  • Daycare facilities, playgrounds and other locations where children gather
  • Educational Institutions
  • Emergency shelters, including domestic violence shelters and homeless shelters
  • Entertainment venues
  • Federal, state, and local government buildings
  • Health and medical facilities
  • Houses of worship
  • Libraries
  • Polling sites
  • Public demonstrations and rallies
  • Public transportation including subways and buses
  • Times Square

The law also makes ‘no carry’ the default for private property, unless deemed permissible by property owners. This gives power to business and property owners to decide whether or not they want guns in their establishments, which could include bars, restaurants, shops or grocery stores. Property owners who do decide to allow concealed carry will have to disclose with signage saying concealed carry is allowed on the premises. This allows people to make an informed decision on whether or not they want to be in a space where people could potentially be carrying a weapon.

Expanded Eligibility Requirements and Disqualifying Criteria

The legislation expands eligibility requirements for concealed carry permit applicants. Expanded application requirements include character references, firearm safety training courses, live fire testing, and background checks. Additionally, applicants who have documented instances of violent behavior will be disqualified from obtaining a concealed carry permit. Disqualifying criteria also includes misdemeanor convictions for weapons possession and menacing, recent treatment for drug-related reasons, and for alcohol-related misdemeanor convictions.

Safe Storage

Today’s legislation also implements new safe storage requirements for rifles, shotguns, and firearms. Gun owners will be prohibited from leaving a gun in their car unless it is stored in a lockbox. Additionally, state law previously required that guns be stored safely in a home if someone under 16 resides there, but new legislation will require safe gun ownership in a home if someone under 18 resides there.

Ammunition Background Checks

The legislation allows the state to conduct and have oversight over background checks for firearms and run regular checks on license holders for criminal convictions. State background checks will go beyond those conducted by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System maintained by the FBI, which lack access to crucial state-owned and local-owned records and databases that provide a more accurate assessment of an applicant’s background. Research has found that states that perform their own background checks, instead of solely using the federal database, experience 27 percent lower firearm suicide rates and 22 percent lower firearm homicide rates. The legislation also requires background checks for ammunition sales and creates a statewide license and ammunition database.

Body Armor Amendment

Under current law, a “body vest” has a limited defined as a bullet-resistant soft body armor. This legislation will redefine body vests to encompass a broader array of protective equipment that is bullet resistant, expanding current purchase and sale prohibitions to include hard body armor. During the Buffalo tragedy, the shooter was wearing a steel-plated vest which would be captured under this new body armor definition.

Rebecca Fischer, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence said, “Even as the gun industry attacks our sensible gun laws, our communities, and our children, we know we can count on New York State’s leadership to protect us time and time again. Last week, the gun-lobby backed U.S. Supreme Court overhauled New York’s concealed carry licensing law, a law that has helped keep New Yorkers safe for over a century.  Last night, our state took swift action by enacting new laws that will strengthen our public carry permitting process and enable New Yorkers to live safely in sensitive places across New York.  We applaud Governor Kathy Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Speaker Carl Heastie for being model leaders for our nation as we continue to address the gun violence crisis and save lives.” 

New York State Crime Data Shows Enforcement Works to Combat Gun Violence Epidemic

State Police Have Seized 662 Guns in 2022, Represents a 98 Percent Increase Compared with the Same Period in 2021 

Ghost Gun Seizures Have Increased 38 Percent Compared with Same Period in 2021

State Police Have Conducted 346 Gun-Tracing Investigations in 2022, Resulting in 70 Investigative Leads Across 22 States 

Exhaustive Efforts Coincide with First Drop in New York City Gun Violence in More than Two Years, Shooting Incidents Down 12 percent in New York City Compared with Last Year

Shooting Incidents Down Nearly 7 Percent in 20 Jurisdictions Participating in State Gun Involved Violence Elimination (GIVE) Initiative

Governor Hochul Continues to Work Closely with the Legislature on New Policy in Response to Supreme Court Concealed Carry Ruling; Extraordinary Session Set for Thursday 

New Yorkers come out in force to end the gun violence epidemic. State crime data shows the state’s efforts to enforce gun laws bring down the rate of gun crime.  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Hey you Christo Fascists on the Taliban Court and Republicans in the clutches of the NRA, pretending to run on an anti-crime platform to justify racist injustice! It appears gun control laws actually do save lives – that is, if the federal government weren’t barred by the NRA and gun lobby from collecting data, or allowing physicians, pediatricians to suggest parents store their weapons safely. New York State just released its own data on gun seizures, gun-tracing and gun-related crime that proves a state’s efforts and strategic investments to stem the gun violence epidemic actually work. Not that you actually care, even though you claim to be “pro-life.” Nonsense. Commonsense gun safety laws work  (so does women’s reproductive freedom and access to safe health care) work. Here’s the fact sheet:

Governor Kathy Hochul unveiled new data on gun seizures, gun-tracing investigations, and gun-related crime that indicates New York State’s exhaustive efforts and strategic investments to combat the gun violence epidemic are beginning to show signs of progress. The data includes a substantial year-over-year increase in State Police gun and ghost gun seizures—both coinciding with the formation of the Interstate Task Force on Illegal Guns. The Governor also highlighted the first discernible drop in New York City gun crime in more than two years—with a 12 percent reduction in shooting incidents over the last year. Outside of New York City, 20 jurisdictions participating in the State’s Gun Involved Violence Elimination (GIVE) initiative have experienced a nearly seven percent drop in shooting incidents compared with last year.

“With substantial state investment in gun violence prevention programs and unprecedented collaboration between law enforcement agencies, we are beginning to see meaningful progress in our exhaustive efforts to eradicate gun violence from our communities,” Governor Hochul said. “We are aggressively ramping up our efforts to get deadly weapons—including ghost guns—off of our streets, and have developed hundreds of investigative leads spanning 22 states—work resulting in the first discernible reduction in gun violence in more than two years. While this is undeniable progress, our work is just getting started. In the wake of the reckless Supreme Court decision to strike down the ‘proper cause’ provision of New York’s concealed carry law, I am convening an extraordinary session of the legislature tomorrow, where we will enact new policy that carefully regulates access to concealed carry permits within the confines of the decision. My staff has been working with the legislature around-the-clock to get this done right. We will stop at nothing to protect New Yorkers.” 

“I join with Governor Hochul in calling for common-sense legally sustainable gun laws that will keep New Yorkers safe,” said Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado“The Interstate Task Force on Illegal Guns is making great progress but more work still needs to be done to ensure guns aren’t falling into the wrong hands, and with the meeting of the Legislature this week we hope to soon have sensible concealed carry laws in place to help protect New Yorkers on public transportation and in businesses.”

Governor Hochul outlined these key highlights during a press conference following a meeting of the Interstate Task Force on Illegal Guns at the New York State Intelligence Center in East Greenbush. The meeting included law enforcement representatives from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Quebec, as well as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and the New York City Police Department. Key highlights include:

  • Between January and June, State Police seized 662 guns. That represents a 98 percent increase over the same period last year.  
  • Non-NYC state gun seizures (State Police + other non-NYC jurisdictions) are up 94 percent compared with 2020 and 40 percent compared with 2021. 
  • Year to date, State Police have conducted 346 gun-tracing investigations. From these cases, they have forwarded 70 investigative leads to 22 states.  These cases are investigations of residents of those states being arrested in New York for illegally possessing and trafficking on firearms. 
  • Ghost gun seizures have increased 1800 percent since 2018, 212 percent since 2020, and 38 percent when compared with the same period last year. Law enforcement statewide have seized 360 ghost guns year-to-date. State Police have seized 65 ghost guns in 2022, four more than were seized in all of 2021. 

Data unveiled during today’s announcement shows that improved collaboration between cities, states, and federal partners is beginning to pay dividends, particularly in New York City, which saw the first significant drop in gun-related violence since May 2020. State Police and DOCCS are working closely with the NYPD and other partners through the Gun Violence Strategic Partnership (GVSP) and compared to last year, murders in New York City declined 13 percent and shooting incidents decreased by 12 percent.

Local law enforcement agencies also are making noticeable progress outside of New York City. The State’s GIVE initiative —administered by the Division of Criminal Justice Services—provides state funding to local law enforcement agencies for personnel, equipment, training, and technical assistance. GIVE supports 20 departments in 17 counties that account for more than 80 percent of violent crime in the state outside of New York City. Compared with last year, shooting incidents involving injury are down nearly 6 percent and the number of shooting victims declined by nearly 7 percent across GIVE jurisdictions. This year’s reduction in gun violence comes after significant increases in these jurisdictions in 2020 and 2021, including a 75 percent increase in shootings involving injury from 2019 to 2020. Working with the legislature, Governor Hochul secured $18.2 million in funding for GIVE in the FY 2023 State Budget — the largest state investment in the program since its 2014 inception. 

State Police Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen said,”Thanks to the Governor’s leadership and continued support of the State Police, we continue to work with law enforcement agencies at all levels of government in New York State, around the northeast, and in Canada, to slow the tide of illegal guns that are finding their way into our communities. Our members are focused and committed to reducing gun violence, and we are encouraged by the progress we have made in recent months.”

Division of Criminal Justice Services Commissioner Rossana Rosado said, “The past two years have been extremely challenging for our GIVE partners and the communities they serve. They have seen first-hand the devastation wrought by gun violence but they also know that evidence-based strategies implemented through GIVE are effective in reducing shootings and saving lives. We thank Governor Hochul for her support and investment in this initiative and commend our law enforcement partners for the work they do every day to serve and protect their fellow New Yorkers.” 

Governor Hochul is convening an extraordinary session of the legislature on Thursday, June 30 to pass new gun safety legislation in response to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen. The decision reversed a 100-year-old legal precedent requiring individuals to demonstrate “proper cause” to obtain a license to carry a concealed firearm. In response, the administration continues to work closely with the legislature to devise new policy that will strictly and carefully regulate access to concealed carry permits while remaining within the confines of the law. 

While the Supreme Court decision has long-term implications, it has no immediate impact on firearm licensing or permitting. This means people cannot immediately legally carry a concealed firearm without obtaining the currently required permits or licenses. As of now, the application process to obtain a license or permit is unchanged. Those wishing to change their permit status to acquire an “unrestricted carry” permit must file an application with their designated local licensing authority. Gun owners must continue to follow current restrictions.    

The announcement builds on Governor Hochul’s continued commitment to aggressively attacking the gun violence epidemic in New York State. Earlier this month, the Governor signed a landmark legislative package to immediately strengthen the state’s gun laws and close critical loopholes exposed by shooters in Buffalo and Uvalde. The ten-bill package bans the sale of semiautomatic rifles to anyone under 21 by requiring a license, puts restrictions on the purchase of body armor for anyone not engaged in an eligible profession, and strengthens the Red Flag Law. 

The FY 2023 State Budget includes $227 million to fund bold initiatives that will strengthen the gun violence prevention efforts of law enforcement and community-based organizations. It includes $13.1 million to expand the use of Community Stabilization Units, $18 million in direct support to local law enforcement for gun violence prevention, $20 million for regional needs in the aftermath of gun violence, and $3 million for the Office of Gun Violence Prevention.  

Reactions, Next Steps After Supreme Court Extremists Strike Down State’s Concealed Carry Restriction

New York Attorney General Leticia James and New York City Mayor Eric Adams join March Against Gun Violence: Policy & Action Over Thoughts & Prayers protest.New York Governor Kathy Hochul and NYC Mayor Adams are reacting to the Supreme Court decision striking down the state’s conceal carry permit regulation © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, news-photos-features.com

The statement by Clarence Thomas’ majority opinion justifying striking down New York State’s sensible qualifications to obtain a concealed carry gun permit saying regulation must conform with “history” – as if the 1791 technology of muskets and a ball were still the norm instead of high-tech assault weapons made for war that pulverize, vaporize human body – rather than common sense restrictions that go back more than 100 years, means that all of us must live in terror that an altercation, road rage, misunderstanding or a suicidal meltdown will lead to murder or massacre. The Supreme Court has basically given its blessing to gun violence as political weapon of intimidation – threatening poll workers, election workers, voters, elected officials. Imagine Trump or DeSantis thugs, strapped with AR15s blocking access to a polling place, or protesting in front of a home of a Secretary of State or House member of the January 6 committee (but certainly not the Supreme Court justices’ homes).

The Supreme Court has proved itself to be a political actor with a Christo Fascist ideological agenda – overturning state’s rights to protect citizens against guns and epidemic while insisting on state’s right to overturn a woman’s federal, Constitutional right to Equal Protection or equal citizenship. The court has lost all legitimacy or credibility – with three justices illegally placed on the court by an illegitimate president using anti-constitutional means by the Republican Senate Majority Leader, and a fourth corrupt justice, Clarence Thomas who should be impeached.

So short of disregarding the court’s radical extremist majority altogether, states should follow the “founders’” 1791 language to the letter. This is what states and municipalities should do to protect citizens from the epidemic of gun violence:

All gun owners should be required to enlist in a well-regulated militia, be required to go for regular training, be registered, licensed every five years, and be prepared to defend the state.

Also: impose tax on guns, ammunition to support a Victims Fund. Require gun owners to have liability insurance.

Following the tactic used by anti-choice activists, restrict all gun sales to licensed gun sellers, who are restricted where and when they can operate, and who are held liable if they sell a gun to someone who failed background check or if the gun is used in crime. Outlaw online and private sales. Restrict what kinds of guns and ammunition can be sold.

Require gun manufacturers to use SMART ID so only the registered, licensed, trained gun owner can operate the gun; require microstamping so that ammunition used in crime can be traced back. Make gun manufacturers liable when their guns are used in crimes, mass shooting. Restrict advertising (as is done for tobacco sales).

Here are the statements from New York State Governor Kathy Hochul, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, and President Joe Biden:

Governor Hochul: “As Governor of the State of New York, my number one priority is to keep New Yorkers safe, but today the Supreme Court is sending us backwards in our efforts to protect families and prevent gun violence.”

Hochul: “I’m prepared to call the legislature back into session to deal with this. We’ve been in contact with the leadership. We’re just looking at dates. Everyone wants a little bit of time to digest this, but I will say we are not powerless in this situation. We’re not going to cede our rights that easily. Despite the best efforts of the politicized Supreme Court of the United States of America, we have the power of the pen.”

We just received some very disturbing news from Washington; that the Supreme Court of the United States of America has stripped away the state of New York’s right and responsibility to protect its citizens with a decision – which we are still digesting – which is frightful in its scope of how they are setting back this nation and our ability to protect our citizens back to the days of our founding fathers. And the language we’re reading is shocking.

As Governor of the State of New York, my number one priority is to keep New Yorkers safe, but today the Supreme Court is sending us backwards in our efforts to protect families and prevent gun violence. And it’s particularly painful that this came down at this moment. We are still dealing with families in pain from mass shootings that have occurred; the loss of life of their beloved children and grandchildren.

Today, the Supreme Court struck down a New York law that limits who can carry concealed weapons. Does everyone understand what a concealed weapon means? That you have no forewarning that someone can hide a weapon on them and go into our subways, go into our grocery stores like stores up in Buffalo, New York, where I’m from, go into a school in Parkland or Uvalde.

This could place millions of New Yorkers in harm’s way. And this is at a time when we’re still mourning the loss of lives, as I just mentioned. This decision, isn’t just reckless, it’s reprehensible. It’s not what New Yorkers want. We should have the right of determination of what we want to do in terms of our gun laws in our state.

If the federal government will not have sweeping laws to protect us, then our states and our governors have a moral responsibility to do what we can and have laws that protect our citizens because of what is going on – the insanity of the gun culture that has now possessed everyone all the way up to even to the Supreme Court.

The law we’re talking about has been in place since the early 1900s. And now to have our ability to determine who is eligible for a concealed carry permit – this is not an ordinary permit. This is a special use that you can hide it from people. We have limitations, if it’s for a proper cause, someone who’s been threatened, someone who needs it for their job as a security guard. We have classifications where it is allowed and has been allowed for over a hundred years.

We do not need people entering our subways, our restaurants, our movie theaters with concealed weapons. We don’t need more guns on our streets. We’re already dealing with a major gun violence crisis. We don’t need to add more fuel to this fire.

But I will tell New Yorkers, we’ve been ready for this. We feared this day would come and it came. At this very moment when we are about to sign a law into place, the origins of which was a loss of a 14 year old child, Alyssa, in her school.

The confluence of these two events is shocking. But again, I’m going to reassure this state. We are reading the language as we speak. We’ve been preparing, but we have been working with a team of experts, legal experts from all over this country and organizations like Everytown, true leaders, to make sure that we are prepared.

I’m prepared to call the legislature back into session to deal with this. We’ve been in contact with the leadership. We’re just looking at dates. Everyone wants a little bit of time to digest this, but I will say we are not powerless in this situation. We’re not going to cede our rights that easily. Despite the best efforts of the politicized Supreme Court of the United States of America, we have the power of the pen.

And I just want to read some language here. Apparently, the Supreme Court has now decided with this far reaching decision that the two step standard that had been in place since Heller [and] McDonald, where they analyze the Second Amendment, where it combines history. We have a history, yes we do, but also means and scrutiny. Does the means of the restriction justify the infringement.

And most people would say, yes, we have a right to protect people from gun violence. But I’ll simply say in our very quick analysis because this is only minutes old, they have now said that the government must demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with this nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.

That’s it. No longer can we strike the balance. Only if a firearm regulation is consistent with this nation’s historical tradition may a court conclude that the individual’s conduct falls outside the Second Amendment’s unqualified command.

Shocking, absolutely shocking that they have taken away our right to have reasonable restrictions. We can have restrictions on speech. You can’t yell fire in a crowded theater, but somehow there’s no restrictions allowed on the second amendment.

This is New York. We don’t back down, we fight back. And we’ll be alerting the public, the media in the very short term of exactly what our language is that we’ve been analyzing. We have language we’d like to now enact into law. We’ll be sharing that with the leaders.

And I’m sorry this dark day has come. That we’re supposed to go back to what was in place since 1788 when the Constitution of United States America was ratified. And I would like to point out to the Supreme Court justices that the only weapons at that time were muskets. I’m prepared to go back to muskets.

I don’t think they envision the high capacity assault weapon magazines intended for battlefields as being covered from this, but I guess we’re just going to have to disagree.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams: This decision has made every single one of us less safe from gun violence.

This decision has made every single one of us less safe from gun violence. It ignores the shocking crisis of gun violence every day, engulfing not only New York, but entire country.

To base this decision on “historical past” that does not account for the reality of today, ignores the present and endangers our future.

While nothing changes today, we have been preparing for this decision and will continue to do everything possible to work with fed, state, local partners to protect city. We will collaborate with other mayors, municipality leaders, leave no stone unturned, as we seek to undue and mitigate the damage today.

We are undertaking a comprehensive review with counsel, legal experts, as we start to define sensitive locations where carrying gun is banned and reviewing application process to insure only those fully qualified can obtain carry license.

We cannot allow New York to become the wild wild west. That’s unacceptable. We will not allow our city to live in fear that everyone around is armed, and any altercation could evolve into shootout. We will not allow our police to be subject to further danger, making their already difficult jobs even more harrowing.

We will do everything in our power, using every legal resource to insure gains are not undone, and New Yorkers are not put in greater danger of gun violence.

There is no place in the nation this decision affects more than New York City, no place in the nation that will be impacted more than New York City or is affected as much as New Yorkers.

And we are prepared to set example, lead the country in fighting back this decision. Today’s Supreme Court decision may feed gun violence.

Now is time for every elected official who cares for safety of all Americans to come together, to respond thoroughly, comprehensively to this appalling decision.

New York City Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell added, “This decision has been remanded back to lower courts. Nothing changes. A premise permit doesn’t automatically change to a carry permit. If you carry without a permit, you will be arrested.” 

Statement by President Joe Biden on Supreme Court Ruling on Guns

I am deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court’s ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. Since 1911, the State of New York has required individuals who would like to carry a concealed weapon in public to show a need to do so for the purpose of self-defense and to acquire a license. More than a century later, the United States Supreme Court has chosen to strike down New York’s long-established authority to protect its citizens. This ruling contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should deeply trouble us all.
 
In the wake of the horrific attacks in Buffalo and Uvalde, as well as the daily acts of gun violence that do not make national headlines, we must do more as a society — not less — to protect our fellow Americans. I remain committed to doing everything in my power to reduce gun violence and make our communities safer. I have already taken more executive actions to reduce gun violence than any other President during their first year in office, and I will continue to do all that I can to protect Americans from gun violence. 
 
I urge states to continue to enact and enforce commonsense laws to make their citizens and communities safer from gun violence. As the late Justice Scalia recognized, the Second Amendment is not absolute. For centuries, states have regulated who may purchase or possess weapons, the types of weapons they may use, and the places they may carry those weapons. And the courts have upheld these regulations.
 
I call on Americans across the country to make their voices heard on gun safety. Lives are on the line.

New Yorkers Protest for Gun Safety Laws to End Scourge of Gun Violence Epidemic

“The NRA Has Blood on Its Hands.” UFT joins March For Our Lives rally in New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

[Breaking news: Just one day after the March for Our Lives events, the bipartisan Senate committee working on some compromise gun violence prevention legislation announced they had come up with a framework. The proposal calls for making juvenile records of gun buyers under age 21 available when they undergo background checks; provides money to states to implement “red flag” laws and to bolster school safety and mental health programs; require more people who sell guns obtain federal dealers’ licenses, which means they would have to conduct background checks of purchasers. President Biden immediately put out a statement that the framework “does not do everything that I think is needed, but it reflects important steps in the right direction, and would be the most significant gun safety legislation to pass Congress in decades.” He urged rapid passage. But as you see in what the gun violence prevention activists are saying, there is much, much more to do.]

Amid the palpable outrage, frustration and fear, there is this kernel of hope that what didn’t happen after Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkville and now Uvalde, the 40,000 lives lost to gun violence last year, and the more than 200 mass shootings that have already happened this year, or the report that more children and teens are killed by guns than by disease or car accidents, may finally happen: that Congress would finally pass sensible gun safety regulations to end the public health epidemic of gun violence. And the difference is this: the election season for the midterms is already underway and Congressmen have already had their primary challenges so shouldn’t “fear” being primaried by an even more fascist candidate to appeal to the bloodlust of their base.

“I’m Scared to Be a Teacher..” UFT joins March For Our Lives rally in New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Over a thousand protesters – representing a huge array of groups including March for Our Lives, Youth Against Violence, teachers from the UFT and AFT, Moms Demand Action, Everytown, NYACLU, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence and many more – who marched from Brooklyn to Manhattan to rally – screamed and cheered when urged to vote out any politician who refuses to put children’s lives over the gun industry’s profits.

“United States of School Shootings.” UFT joins March For Our Lives rally in New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“End gun worship,” Rev. Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft of Middle Church, intoned. “Vote out every politician who supports the NRA, gun lobby.”

“Love Children More.” UFT joins March For Our Lives rally in New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

They called for universal background checks, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and other instruments and weapons of war never meant for the streets; raise the minimum age to buy a gun to 21; mandate safe storage so that a two-year old who finds a gun doesn’t kill his sibling (or what just happened when a mother handed her two year old her gun, killed his father), and Red Flag laws.

“Message to Congress: None of You are Ballotproof.” March For Our Lives rally in New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And mindful that it is Republican Senators (Democrats passed gun reform in the House) who have blocked every gun safety measure for the past 30 years, they called for an end to the filibuster, since there do not seem to be 10 Republican Senators of conscience.

“End Gun Violence.” March For Our Lives rally in New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Dr. Nancy Dodson, a pediatrician and gun safety activist, said gun violence is a public health crisis and one that is propagated by the propaganda of the gun industry, no different in its campaign to deflect and distract (mental health, not guns), than the lead paint industry who blamed neglectful mothers and even put out a children’s book to say that lead paint is good for you, and the tobacco industry.

“Hey NRA, How Many Kids Did you Kill Today,” became one of the cheers during the March For Our Lives protest in New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Why aren’t there cigarette ads in magazines, commercials on TVs, toy giveaways?  Because they were sued. But the gun industry, despite 40,000 killed last year including 4000 children has near-total immunity, under the Protection of Legal Commerce in Arms Act. This is an unjust law that must be repealed so that victims and survivors can sue,” she declared, to cheers.

“Never Again.” March For Our Lives rally in New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

 “It would lead to economic justice for victims and radical changes in design, advertising and sales of guns. “What is the life of a child worth? Gun manufacturers should find out in court.”

“Laws can change social norms,” she said. Drunk driving became socially unacceptable, it became a loving gesture to take your friend’s keys away. It should be the same for guns.”

That means more use of Red Flag Laws, so that it becomes culturally acceptable to say, “You’re struggling now, so don’t do something you’ll regret.”

“We have saved lives of children before and cited examples and a public health scourge through changing  culture – drunk driving… And many examples of government taking action – after one guy got on a plane with explosives in his shoe and another with explosive underpants, everyone for the past 20 years has had to take off their shoes at the airport, been patted down and x-rayed.

March Against Gun Violence: Policy & Action Over Thoughts & Prayers, takes the protest over the Brooklyn Bridge © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
New York State Attorney General Letitia James and New York City Mayor Eric Adams join organizers of the March Against Gun Violence, March for Our Lives and UFT crossing the Brooklyn Bridge to call for gun safety legislation to end the gun violence epidemic  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Ali and Aj of AJ Band described the terror of being in the midst of multiple mass shootings – outside their concert venue, someone sprayed 100 rounds , leaving six dead on the pavement just outside their tour bus where they had hit the ground, then again in Portland, then again in Atlanta they heard shots. “This should not be normal.”

Aly and AJ of the AJ Band speak of their own terror surviving a mass shooting that left six dead on the street in front of their tour bus parked at a concert venue © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Instead, the Republicans are trying to deflect, putting the onus on mental health and school security, when school districts are cutting funding for actual education, for the arts, theater and music programs that might help that alienated youth to find a better outlet.

“Books Not Bullets.” March for Our Lives rally, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Young people must turn their passion and pain to purpose and vote,” said Attorney General Letitia James, who was with the protest from the beginning of the march through the end of the rally. “Congress won’t act until they feel the power of the people.  Vote in record numbers to end the violence.

“I am 21 and have lived through 369 school shootings.” Gun Violence is now the number one killer of children under 18, surpassing disease and car accidents. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Enough prayers, empty thoughts. This is a defining moment young people, for the country. Women’s rights, civil rights, gay rights, trans rights, disabled rights, environmental protection did not start with politicians. It was all of you young people who lead and politicians who followed. Break the collective yoke around the neck of this country…Turn out and vote, vote, vote the reckless cowards out of office, the spineless, gutless who believe in power over people.”

Janella Hines, a high school teacher, speaks of gun violence in homes and how one of her students was murdered. “The trauma is experienced day after day. This is not what teachers went to school for, but we have to do it. It’s time for policy and change.”Gun safety activists are calling for Red Flag laws and universal background checks.  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Janella Hines, representing the UFT which helped organize the march, spoke for the teachers who carried signs saying, “I’m scared.” “Books not bullets.” And how when they decided to make teaching their career, they never expected that protecting children from gunmen with military-style weapons, and comforting the traumatized children after they have lost classmates, was part of the job description.

She focused not on the mass shootings that have so terrorized – in schools, churches, grocery stores, concerts, movie theaters, malls – but violence in homes. One of her student’s, named Chloe, was murdered with her sister and mother by her step father on her sister’s birthday. “The entire school community suffered the loss. The trauma is experienced day after day. This is not what teachers went to school for, but we have to do it. It’s time for policy and change.”

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney declared, “If guns made us safe, we would be the safest on earth. But the only place more dangerous is Ukraine, and they are at war. We are killing people because of the easy access to guns,” and called for an end to gun manufacturers’ immunity to lawsuits © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney declared, “If guns made us safe, we would be the safest on earth. But the only place more dangerous is Ukraine, and they are at war.

“We are killing people because of the easy access to guns.” She said that gun manufacturers need to be held accountable for profiting from murdering children. and called for an end to the immunity gun manufacturers, unlike every other industry, from liability lawsuits.

Congressman Mondaire Jones, if the Senate Republicans block passing the Protecting Our Kids Act, end the filibuster, and if the Supreme Court overturns gun safety laws, expand the court to nullify Trump’s three radical rightwing ideologues © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Congressman Mondaire Jones, the youngest member of the House Judiciary Committee (whose remarks inspired rebuke from Republicans and Tucker Carlson), noted that the House has passed a package of gun safety bills, but that they will likely languish, as have all gun regulations for the past 30 years, in the Senate. “Make sure the Senate hears you.”

He is a sponsor of the Protecting Our Kids Act which changes federal firearms laws, including to establish new criminal offenses and to expand the types of weapons and devices that are subject to regulation. The bill:

  • generally prohibits the sale or transfer of certain semiautomatic firearms to individuals who are under 21 years of age;
  • establishes new federal criminal offenses for gun trafficking and related conduct;
  • establishes a federal statutory framework to regulate ghost guns (i.e., guns without serial numbers);
  • establishes a framework to regulate the storage of firearms on residential premises at the federal, state, and tribal levels;
  • subjects bump stocks to regulation under federal firearms laws;
  • generally prohibits the import, sale, manufacture, transfer, and possession of large capacity ammunition feeding devices; and
  • requires the Department of Justice to report on the demographic data of persons who are determined to be ineligible to purchase a firearm based on a background check performed by the national instant criminal background check system.

“If we can’t find 10 Senate Republicans of good conscience, we need to abolish the filibuster.”

He also introduced the Judiciary Act, which would expand the Supreme Court by four, to undo the damage of Trump putting three hard-right ideological partisans on the bench, orchestrated by then Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who refused to allow Obama to appoint a justice after Antonin Scalia died 10 months before the 2016 election, then rushed through Amy Coney Barrett’s appointment even though voting in the 2020 presidential election had already begun.

The young people of Youth Against Violence and March for Our Lives are propelling the movement to end the gun violence epidemic © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Meanwhile, the rightwing majority on the Supreme Court is poised to overturn New York’s gun permit law, taking away a vital tool to keep guns off the streets, even as New York State passed 10 more gun safety laws.

Governor Kathy Hochul vowed to bring back the Legislature for an emergency session to address whatever the Supreme Court throws. (My idea is to require all gun owners to be enlisted in a “well-regulated militia” where they would train, drill, and be available to protect the state against foreign and domestic enemies, as the Founding Fathers intended in the Second Amendment (See: Guns Again Again).

Moms Demand Action was prominent at the March for Our Lives event in New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York’s was one of some 450 events throughout the United States and the world, including a re-do of the March For Our Lives rally in Washington DC that followed the 2018 massacre.

They are hoping it isn’t déjà vu all over again, with Congress doing nothing.

The message from Jessalise Rivera: “I’m 9. Please don’t shoot me while I’m learning.”

Jessalise Rivera offers this message: “I’m 9. Please don’t shoot me while I’m learning.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Here are more photo highlights from the march and rally:

March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
UFT was one of the organizers of the March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“We March for Those Who Can’t.” March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Am I Next”. March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“The Scar Splattered Banner: The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a vote!” March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

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NYS Legislature Passes Comprehensive 10-Bill Gun Safety Package, Strengthening NY’s Already Tough Gun Laws

Gun Safety Bills to Require Microstamping Technology for All Semi-Automatic Pistols, Expand Extreme Risk Protection Order Law, Improve Oversight and Regulation of Gun Dealers, Require a License to Purchase or Possess a Semi-automatic Rifle, and Other Common Sense Gun Violence Prevention Measures

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul, at Memorial Day Parade in Queens, NY, vows to implement whatever new gun safety legislation is necessary to protect New Yorkers. If and when the Supreme Court nullifies the state’s gun permit law, she said, “I will call back the legislature to work on a comprehensive package of proposed reforms. New Yorkers should know how seriously we are taking the fight to get guns off our streets.” The State Legislature just passed a package of 10 gun-safety bills © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

Even as President Joe Biden was appealing to Congress to finally act to end the scourge of gun violence that is taking more than 100 lives each day and has become the leading cause of death for children, New York State was passing a package of gun safety bills to further strengthen the state’s already stiff gun control laws. The action came just days after an 18-year old white supremacist, armed with an AR 15 assault weapon murdered 10 in a grocery store in a predominantly black neighborhood of Buffalo, followed closely by the massacre at the Uvalde, Texas elementary school, and then another at a Tulsa hospital. Meanwhile, the state awaits the radical rightwing Supreme Court majority’s decision on a case deciding whether New York can give criteria for someone to have a gun permit. Governor Kathy Hochul has said she would call the state Legislature back into session to adopt new gun laws should that happen.

Immediately following the State Legislature’s adoption of its package of gun laws, Governor Hochul stated, “Just last night a deadly semiautomatic weapon was once again used to mercilessly kill innocent civilians, this time at a medical facility in Oklahoma. It was a scene all too familiar in this country, one we’ve seen everywhere from Uvalde, to Sandy Hook, to Parkland, to my hometown of Buffalo. We cannot keep living like this. 

“We cannot be satisfied by New York’s already tough gun laws. Shooting after shooting makes it clear that they must be even stronger to keep New Yorkers safe. This comprehensive package will close loopholes, give law enforcement the tools they need to prevent easy access to guns, and stop the sale of dangerous weapons to 18-year-olds. I am grateful to Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Heastie, and our partners in the legislature, and I look forward to signing these bills into law. 

“Even as we take action to protect New Yorkers, we recognize that this is a nationwide problem. I once again urge Congress to seize this moment and pass meaningful gun violence prevention measures. We have no time to waste.”    

New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (NYAGV), a statewide advocacy organization, applauded the New York State Senate and New York State Assembly for passing a package of 10 gun safety bills this week.  The bills, which are expected to be signed by Governor Kathy Hochul, will require microstamping technology for all semi-automatic pistols, expand New York’s Extreme Risk Protection Order law, improve oversight and regulation of gun dealers, require a license to purchase or possess a semi-automatic rifle, and other measures that will prevent gun violence and mass shootings. 

The passage of this gun bill package comes on the heels of a scourge of gun violence and mass shootings during April and May across the state and country, including in Brooklyn and Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas, and as recently as last night, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, among numerous other gun violence incidents.

Rebecca Fischer, NYAGV Executive Director said, “Faced with a surging gun violence crisis, the New York State Legislature has once again made it a priority this week to protect New Yorkers by passing a strong, life-saving slate of gun violence prevention bills.  These measures will help keep guns away from people in crisis to prevent mass shootings, suicide and other gun violence, will require a license to purchase or possess a semi-automatic rifle anywhere in this state, and will provide law enforcement with microstamping tracing technology to stop gun trafficking and hold rogue gun dealers accountable. As New Yorkers and Americans, we should not have to fear gun violence on a daily basis in our neighborhoods or homes, in our subways, our supermarkets, our schools, our houses of worship, our hospitals, or anywhere else.  While Congress continues to stall on meaningful national gun reform, we are grateful to have outstanding gun violence prevention champions leading our state government who are committed to keeping our children and all New Yorkers safe.”

A.7926-A (Rosenthal, L)/S.4116-A (Hoylman): Requires DCJS to certify or decline to certify that microstamping-enabled pistols are technologically viable and if certified as viable, to establish programs and processes for the implementation of such technology; and, establishes the crime of the unlawful sale of a non-microstamping-enabled firearm.

A.1023-A (Paulin)/S.4970-A (Kavanagh): Requires all state and local law enforcement agencies to report seized or recovered guns to the criminal gun clearinghouse; participate in ATFs collective data sharing program; test-fire seized or recovered guns for national integrated Ballistic Information Network; and enter the make, model, caliber, and serial number of the gun into the national crime information center. Also requires gun dealers to implement a security plan for securing firearms, rifles and shotguns; prohibit persons under eighteen and not accompanied by a parent from the certain locations of a gun dealer’s premises; provide training to all employees on the conduct of firearm, rifle, and shotgun transfers, including identification of and response to illegal purchases; adhere to record keeping requirements; and require the State police to conduct inspections of gun dealers every three years.

A. 10502 (Cahill)/S. 9113-A (Skoufis): Expands who may file an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) petition to include health care practitioners who have examined the individual within the last six months; requires police and district attorneys to file ERPO petitions upon credible information that an individual is likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to himself, herself or others; requires the State Police and the Municipal Police Training Council to create and disseminate policies and procedures to identify when an ERPO petition may be warranted; amends the firearm licensing statute to make it clear that when an individual has been reported by a mental health practitioner and a county mental health commissioner has concurred with such practitioner that the individual is likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to them self or others, such report is considered in determining whether or not to issue a firearm license to the individual; and, expands the mental health practitioners who can make such reports.

A.10501 (Meeks)/S. 9465 (Bailey): Creates a new Task Force on Social Media and Violent Extremism in the Attorney General’s office to study and investigate the role of social media companies in promoting and facilitating violent extremism and domestic terrorism online.

A10503 (Jackson)/S. 9458 (Thomas): Requires that an individual obtain a license prior purchasing a semiautomatic rifle. This is prospective and applies to purchases made on and after the effective date.

A.6716-A (Wallace)/S89-B (Kaminsky): Creates the crimes of making a threat of mass harm and aggravated making a threat of mass harm.

A7865-A (Fahy)/ S.4511-A (Kaplan): Requires social media networks in New York to provide a clear and concise policy regarding how they would respond to incidents of hateful conduct on their platform and maintain easily accessible mechanisms for reporting hateful conduct on those platforms

A.10428-A (People-Stokes)/S.9229-A (Hoylman): Eliminates the grandfathering of large capacity ammunition feeding devices that were lawfully possessed prior to the enactment of the Safe Act or manufactured prior to 1994.

A. 10497 (Jacobson)/S.9407-B (Kavanagh): Makes unlawful the purchase and sale of body vests for anyone who is not engaged in an eligible profession. Eligible professions include law enforcement officers and other professions designated by the Department of State in consultation with other agencies. Also requires that any sale of a body vest be done in person.

A. 10504 (Burgos)/S. 9456 (Sepulveda): Expands the definition of a “firearm” to include any weapon not defined in the Penal Law that is designed or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by action of an explosive. This is intended to capture firearms that have been modified to be shot from an arm brace, which are evading our current definitions of firearms and rifles.

Biden Pleads for Congress to Act to End Scourge of Gun Violence: ‘Do something.  Just do something.  For God’s sake, do something’

After a spate of mass shootings that made the headlines – Buffalo, Uvalde, Tulsa – President Joe Biden addressed the nation to appeal, to demand Congress act to reduce America’s unique public health epidemic of gun violence. My fellow Americans, enough.  Enough.  It’s time for each of us to do our part.  It’s time to act,” he said, offering an agenda, a to-do list of what has to be done to at least reduce the carnage. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc

After a spate of mass shootings that made the headlines – Buffalo, Uvalde, Tulsa – President Joe Biden addressed the nation to appeal, to demand Congress act to reduce America’s unique public health epidemic of gun violence. Even as he spoke, there were additional mass shootings – more than one each and every day. More than 100 Americans are killed each day from gun violence – just since 1968, almost twice the number, nearly 2 million, than have died in all of America’s wars going back to the Revolution, 1 million. “My fellow Americans, enough.  Enough.  It’s time for each of us to do our part.  It’s time to act,” he said, offering an agenda, a to-do list of what has to be done to at least reduce the carnage.

Here is a highlighted transcript of President Biden’s remarks:

On Memorial Day this past Monday, Jill and I visited Arlington National Cemetery.
 
As we entered those hallowed grounds, we saw rows and rows of crosses among the rows of headstones, with other emblems of belief, honoring those who paid the ultimate price on battlefields around the world.
 
The day before, we visited Uvalde — Uvalde, Texas.  In front of Robb Elementary School, we stood before 21 crosses for 19 third and fourth graders and two teachers.  On each cross, a name.  And nearby, a photo of each victim that Jill and I reached out to touch.  Innocent victims, murdered in a classroom that had been turned into a killing field.
 
Standing there in that small town, like so many other communities across America, I couldn’t help but think there are too many other schools, too many other everyday places that have become killing fields, battlefields here in America.

We stood at such a place just 12 days before, across from a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, memorializing 10 fellow Americans — a spouse, a parent, a grandparent, a sibling — gone forever.
 
At both places, we spent hours with hundreds of family members who were broken and whose lives will never be the same.  And they had one message for all of us:

Do something.  Just do something.  For God’s sake, do something.
 
After Columbine, after Sandy Hook, after Charleston, after Orlando, after Las Vegas, after Parkland, nothing has been done.
 
This time, that can’t be true.  This time, we must actually do something.
 
The issue we face is one of conscience and common sense.
 
For so many of you at home, I want to be very clear: This is not about taking away anyone’s guns.  It’s not about vilifying gun owners.  In fact, we believe we should be treating responsible gun owners as an example of how every gun owner should behave.  I respect the culture and the tradition and the concerns of lawful gun owners. 
 
At the same time, the Second Amendment, like all other rights, is not absolute.  It was Justice Scalia who wrote, and I quote, “Like most rights, the right…” — Second Amendment — the rights granted by the Second Amendment are “not unlimited.”  Not unlimited.  It never has been. 
 
There have always been limitations on what weapons you can own in America.  For example, machine guns have been federally regulated for nearly 90 years.  And this is still a free country.
 
This isn’t about taking away anyone’s rights.  It’s about protecting children.  It’s about protecting families.  It’s about protecting whole communities.  It’s about protecting our freedoms to go to school, to a grocery store, and to a church without being shot and killed.
 
According to new data just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, guns are the number one killer of children in the United States of America.  The number one killer.  More than car accidents.  More than cancer.
 
Over the last two decades, more school-aged children have died from guns than on-duty police officers and active-duty military combined.  Think about that: more kids than on-duty cops killed by guns, more kids than soldiers killed by guns.
 
For God’s sake, how much more carnage are we willing to accept?  How many more innocent American lives must be taken before we say “enough”?  Enough.
 
I know that we can’t prevent every tragedy.  But here’s what I believe we have to do.  Here’s what the overwhelming majority of the American people believe we must do.  Here’s what the families in Buffalo and Uvalde, in Texas, told us we must do.
 
We need to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.  And if we can’t ban assault weapons, then we should raise the age to purchase them from 18 to 21. 

Strengthen background checks. 

Enact safe storage laws and red-flag laws. 

Repeal the immunity that protects gun manufacturers from liability. 

Address the mental health crisis deepening the trauma of gun violence and as a consequence of that violence.
 
These are rational, commonsense measures.  And here’s what it all means.  It all means this:

We should reinstate the assault weapons ban and high-capacity magazines that we passed in 1994 with bipartisan support in Congress and the support of law enforcement.  Nine categories of semi-automatic weapons were included in that ban, like AK-47s and AR-15s.
 
And in the 10 years it was law, mass shootings went down.  But after Republicans let the law expire in 2004 and those weapons were allowed to be sold again, mass shootings tripled.  Those are the facts.
 
A few years ago, the family of the inventor of the AR-15 said he would have been horrified to know that its design was being used to slaughter children and other innocent lives instead of being used as a military weapon on the battlefields, as it was designed — that’s what it was designed for.
 
Enough.  Enough. 
 
We should limit how many rounds a weapon can hold.  Why in God’s name should an ordinary citizen be able to purchase an assault weapon that holds 30-round magazines that let mass shooters fire hundreds of bullets in a matter of minutes?
 
The damage was so devastating in Uvalde, parents had to do DNA swabs to identify the remains of their children — 9- and 10-year-old children. 
 
Enough.
 
We should expand background checks to keep guns out of the hands of felons, fugitives, and those under restraining orders. 
 
Stronger background checks are something that the vast majority of Americans, including the majority of gun owners, agree on.
 
I also believe we should have safe storage laws and personal liability for not locking up your gun.
 
The shooter in Sandy Hook came from a home full of guns that were too easy to access.  That’s how he got the weapons — the weapon he used to kill his mother and then murder 26 people, including 20 first graders.
 
If you own a weapon, you have a responsibility to secure it — every responsible gun owner agrees — to make sure no one else can have access to it, to lock it up, to have trigger locks.  And if you don’t and something bad happens, you should be held responsible.
 
We should also have national red-flag laws so that a parent, a teacher, a counselor can flag for a 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 or to others.
 
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have red-flag laws.  The Delaware law is named after my son, Attorney General Beau Biden.
 
Fort Hood, Texas, 2009 — 13 dead and more than 30 injured.
 
Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, 2018 — 17 dead, 17 injured.
 
In both places, countless others suffering with invisible wounds. 
 
Red-flag laws could have stopped both these shooters.
 
In Uvalde, the shooter was 17 when he asked his sister to buy him an assault weapon, knowing he’d be denied because he was too young to purchase one himself.  She refused. 
 
But as soon as he turned 18, he purchased two assault weapons for himself.  Because in Texas, you can be 18 years old and buy an assault weapon even though you can’t buy a pistol in Texas until you’re 21.

If we can’t ban assault weapons, as we should, we must at least raise the age to be able to purchase one to 21.
 
Look, I know some folks will say, “18-year-olds can serve in the military and fire those weapons.”  But that’s with training and supervision by the best-trained experts in the world.  Don’t tell me raising the age won’t make a difference. 
 
Enough.
 
We should repeal the liability shield that often protects gun manufacturers from being sued for the death and destruction caused by their weapons.  They’re the only industry in this country that has that kind of immunity.
 
Imagine — imagine if the tobacco industry had been immune from being sued — where we’d be today.  The gun industry’s special protections are outrageous.  It must end.
 
And let there be no mistake about the psychological trauma that gun violence leaves behind.
 
Imagine being that little girl — that brave little girl in Uvalde who smeared the blood off her murdered friend’s body onto her own face to lie still among the corpses in her classroom and pretend she was dead in order to stay alive.  Imagine — imagine what it would it be like for her to walk down the hallway of any school again.
 
Imagine what it’s like for children who experience this kind of trauma every day in school, in the streets, in communities all across America. 
 
Imagine what it is like for so many parents to hug their children goodbye in the morning, not sure whether they’ll come back home.

 
Unfortunately, too many people don’t have to imagine that at all.
 
Even before the pandemic, young people were already hurting.  There’s a serious youth mental health crisis in this country, and we have to do something about it. 
 
That’s why mental health is at the heart of my Unity Agenda that I laid out in the State of the Union Address this year. 
 
We must provide more school counselors, more school nurses, more mental health services for students and for teachers, more people volunteering as mentors to help young people succeed, more privacy protection and resources to keep kids safe from the harms of social media.
 
This Unity Agenda won’t fully heal the wounded souls, but it will help.  It matters.

I just told you what I’d do.  The question now is: What will the Congress do?
 
The House of Representatives has already passed key measures we need.  Expanding background checks to cover nearly all gun sales, including at gun shows and online sales.  Getting rid of the loophole that allows a gun sale to go through after three business days even if the background check has not been completed.
 
And the House is planning even more action next week.  Safe storage requirements.  The banning of high-capacity magazines.  Raising the age to buy an assault weapon to 21.  Federal red-flag law.  Codifying my ban on ghost guns that don’t have serial numbers and can’t be traced.  And tougher laws to prevent gun trafficking and straw purchases.
 
This time, we have to take the time to do something.  And this time, it’s time for the Senate to do something.

But, as we know, in order to get anything done in the Senate, we need a minimum of 10 Republican senators.
 
I support the bipartisan efforts that include a small group of Democrats and Republican senators trying to find a way.  But my God, the fact that the majority of the Senate Republicans don’t want any of these proposals even to be debated or come up for a vote, I find unconscionable.
 
We can’t fail the American people again.

Since Uvalde, just over a week ago, there have been 20 other mass shootings in America, each with four or more people killed or injured, including yesterday at a hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
 
A shooter deliberately targeted a surgeon using an assault weapon he bought just a few hours before his rampage that left the surgeon, another doctor, a receptionist, and a patient dead, and many more injured.
 
That doesn’t count the carnage we see every single day that doesn’t make the headlines.
 
I’ve been in this fight for a long time.  I know how hard it is, but I’ll never give up.  And if Congress fails, I believe this time a majority of the American people won’t give up either.  I believe the majority of you will act to turn your outrage into making this issue central to your vote.
 
Enough.  Enough.  Enough.
 
Over the next 17 days, the families in Uvalde will continue burying their dead.
 
It will take that long in part because it’s a town where everyone knows everyone, and day by day they will honor each one they lost.
 
Jill and I met with the owner and staff of the funeral home that is being strong — strong, strong, strong — to take care of their own.
 
And the people of Uvalde mourn.  As they do over the next 17 days, what will we be doing as a nation?
 
Jill and I met with the sister of the teacher who was murdered and whose husband died of a heart attack two days later, leaving behind four beautiful, orphaned children — and all now orphaned.
The sister asked us: What could she say?  What could she tell her nieces and nephews?
 
It was one of the most heartbreaking moments that I can remember.  All I could think to say was — I told her to hold them tight.  Hold them tight.
 
After visiting the school, we attended mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church with Father Eddie.
 
In the pews, families and friends held each other tightly.  As Archbishop Gustavo spoke, he asked the children in attendance to come up on the altar and sit on the altar with him as he spoke.
 
There wasn’t enough room, so a mom and her young son sat next to Jill and me in the first pew.  And as we left the church, a grandmother who had just lost her granddaughter passed me a handwritten letter.
 
It read, quote, “Erase the invisible line that is dividing our nation.  Come up with a solution and fix what’s broken and make the changes that are necessary to prevent this from happening again.”  End of quote.
 
My fellow Americans, enough.  Enough.  It’s time for each of us to do our part.  It’s time to act.

For the children we’ve lost, for the children we can save, for the nation we love, let’s hear the call and the cry.  Let’s meet the moment.  Let us finally do something.
 
God bless the families who are hurting.  God bless you all.
 
From a hymn based on the 91st Psalm sung in my church:

May He raise you up on eagle’s wings
and bear you on the breath of dawn
make you to shine like the sun
and hold you in the palm of His hand.

 
That’s my prayer for all of you.  God bless you.

Biden in SOTU Describes Comprehensive Strategy to Fight Crime, Reduce Gun Violence, Make Communities Safer

In his 2022 State of the Union Address, President Biden will discuss his comprehensive strategy to fight crime by investing in crime prevention and helping cities and towns hire additional community police officers to walk the streets, get to know their neighbors, and restore trust and safety. He’ll make clear that the answer is not to defund the police, it’s to put more police – with better training and more accountability – out to take back our streets and make our neighborhoods safer. He will describe the steps his Administration has taken – and will continue to take – to advance that accountability and rebuild trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc.

There is simply not enough time or space for President Biden, in his State of the Union address, to provide all the details to the policies he has achieved or will implement. A major issue for the President has been addressing America’s epidemic of gun violence. Here are more details from the White House about President Biden’s historic actions to make our communities safer by reducing gun crime:

In his 2022 State of the Union Address, President Biden will discuss his comprehensive strategy to fight crime by investing in crime prevention and helping cities and towns hire additional community police officers to walk the streets, get to know their neighbors, and restore trust and safety.

He’ll make clear that the answer is not to defund the police, it’s to put more police – with better training and more accountability – out to take back our streets and make our neighborhoods safer. He will describe the steps his Administration has taken – and will continue to take – to advance that accountability and rebuild trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

Investing in community-based crime prevention and putting more cops on the beat in community policing are the two foundational policies that then-Senator Biden advanced when the United States faced record crime rates in the 1990s. At that time, he wrote a law to change how our country fights crime. We then experienced the sharpest drop in crime on record.


President Biden has spent his first year in office executing on his 
five-part comprehensive strategy make our communities safer and reduce the increase in gun crime we’ve seen since the beginning of the pandemic. It builds off the President’s long-held principles by getting tough on gun crime, and making community investments to prevent crime from happening in the first place:

  • Stems the flow of firearms used to commit violence, including through tougher federal law enforcement efforts against gun traffickers like our regional DOJ strike forces
  • Supports local law enforcement with federal tools and resources to address violent crime and put more cops on the beat, including through record funding in the Rescue Plan
  • Invests in evidence-based community violence interventions that are proven to stop disputes from spilling over into gun violence
  • Expands summer programming, employment opportunities, and other services and supports for teenagers and young adults
  • Helps formerly incarcerated individuals successfully reenter their communities and break the cycle of re-offending

At the same time, President Biden will use the State of the Union Address to reiterate his call for Congress to pass commonsense gun violence legislation that will save lives, and the President continues to urge Congress to act on his budget request of $200 million for community violence interventions and $300 million budget request to more than double the size of the Department of Justice’s COPS community policing hiring grant program.

In his 2022 State of the Union Address, President Biden will highlight how his Administration is executing on his comprehensive strategy to make our communities safer and reduce gun crime. The President’s comprehensive strategy advances two foundational policies – investing in crime prevention and helping cities and towns hire additional community police officers to walk the streets, get to know their neighbors, and restore trust and safety. These are the two foundational policies that then-Senator Biden advanced when the United States faced record crime rates in the 1990s. At that time, he wrote a law to change how our country fights crime. We then experienced the sharpest drop in crime on record.

President Biden recognizes the important role that law enforcement plays in stopping the interstate flow of guns used in crimes and taking off our streets the small number of individuals responsible for a disproportionate amount of gun crimes. To support state and local law enforcement, the U.S. Department of Justice has launched five gun trafficking strike forces and is cracking down on the “Iron Pipeline” – the illegal flow of guns sold in the south, transported up the East Coast, and found at crime scenes in cities from Baltimore to New York City. In addition, the Justice Department has directed every U.S. Attorney’s Office nationwide to increase resources dedicated to district specific violent crime strategies. The Justice Department is working with state and local law enforcement to address the most significant drivers of violence in each district, including to get repeat gun violence offenders off of our streets. New York City’s Gun Violence Strategic Partnership – which the President and Attorney General visited in February 2022 – is one model of the strategies Justice will help expand nationwide.   
 
The President is committed to serving as a strong partner for state and local law enforcement on the frontlines of the fight against crime. That’s why his American Rescue Plan gives cities and states historic levels of funding that they can use to put more cops on the beat for community policing. That’s also why the President continues to urge Congress to act on his $300 million budget request to more than double the size of the Department of Justice’s COPS community policing grant program.
 
Stronger law enforcement is made more effective when we make real investments in making our communities stronger and in addressing the causes of crime before it spills over into violence. That’s why President Biden’s comprehensive approach makes sure cities and states have the funding, training, and know-how they need to invest in proven tactics including street outreach by credible messengers, hospital-based intervention, and youth programming. And it’s bolstered by additional funding to create economic opportunity with job training, expand after-school activities, and provide stable housing and other stabilizing supports necessary to reduce recidivism and help formerly incarcerated individuals reenter their communities. The President has proposed a $5 billion investment in community violence interventions, including a $200 million investment in Fiscal Year 2022.

Taken together, President Biden’s gun crime reduction strategy steps up and focuses law enforcement efforts on violent offenders, stems the trafficking of illegal guns, and makes real investments in communities to intervene in and prevent gun violence. The President knows a complex and devastating challenge like the surge of gun crime we’ve seen over the last two years requires an ambitious, evidence-based response that uses every tool at our disposal, and that’s exactly what his plan does.
 
At the same time, President Biden will use the State of the Union Address to reiterate his call for Congress to pass commonsense gun violence prevention legislation that will save lives. This legislation, which fully aligns with the Second Amendment, includes requiring background checks for all gun sales, ensuring that no terrorist can buy a weapon in the United States, banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines, repealing gun manufacturers’ protection from liability, and banning ghost guns.
 
EXECUTING ON THE PRESIDENT’S COMPREHENSIVE GUN CRIME REDUCTION STRATEGY
 
President Biden spent his first year in office executing on his five-part comprehensive strategy make our communities safer and reduce gun crime, which:

  • Stems the flow of firearms used to commit violence,
  • Supports local law enforcement with federal tools and resources to address violent crime,
  • Invests in evidence-based community violence interventions,
  • Expands summer programming, employment opportunities, and other services and supports for teenagers and young adults, and
  • Helps formerly incarcerated individuals successfully reenter their communities.

 
In fact, during President Biden’s first year in office, the Biden-Harris Administration made more progress on executive actions to reduce gun violence than any other Administration has in its first year. Since taking office, President Biden has announced four packages of executive actions – an initial set of actions during a Rose Garden address in April, a comprehensive gun crime reduction strategysteps to promote safe storage of firearms, and additional Justice Department actions to enforce our gun laws and keep guns out of dangerous hands. These executive actions represent a whole-of-government approach, mobilizing the Departments of Justice, Veterans Affairs, Defense, Transportation, Health and Human Services, Labor, Homeland Security, Education, and Housing and Urban Development toward the shared goal of reducing gun violence. Highlights of these actions include three significant Justice Department rulemakings, agency guidance encouraging the use of hundreds of billions of American Rescue Plan dollars for gun violence reduction, and historic progress to advance community violence interventions.
 
Keeping Especially Dangerous Weapons and Repeat Shooters Off Our Streets
 
Helping state and local law enforcement take repeat shooters off our streets. The Attorney General has directed every U.S. Attorney’s Office nationwide to increase resources dedicated to district specific violent crime strategies. The Justice Department will work with state and local law enforcement to address the most significant drivers of violence in each district, including to get repeat gun violence offenders off of our streets.  New York City’s Gun Violence Strategic Partnership – which the President and Attorney General visited with Mayor Eric Adams in February 2022 – is one model of the strategies Justice will help expand nationwide.
 
Reining in the proliferation of ghost guns. In May 2021, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) issued a proposed rule to help stop the proliferation of “ghost guns,” which are unserialized, privately made firearms that are increasingly being recovered at crime scenes and have been identified by law enforcement officials as a serious threat to public safety. Today, criminals are buying kits containing nearly all of the components and directions for finishing a firearm within as little as 30 minutes and using these firearms to commit crimes. When these firearms turn up at crime scenes, they often cannot be traced by law enforcement due to the lack of a serial number – making it harder to catch the criminals behind shootings. ATF is reviewing public comments in response to the proposed rule, the next step in the regulatory process. In the meantime, the Justice Department launched a National Ghost Gun Enforcement Initiative, which will train a national cadre of prosecutors and disseminate investigation and prosecution tools to help bring cases against those who use ghost guns to commit crimes.   
 
Better regulating devices marketed as stabilizing braces. In June 2021, ATF issued a proposed rule to better regulate when devices marketed as firearm stabilizing braces effectively turn pistols into short-barreled rifles subject to the National Firearms Act. These braces can make a firearm more stable and accurate while still being concealable. ATF is reviewing public comments in response to the proposed rule, the next step in the regulatory process.
 
Keeping Guns out of the Wrong Hands
 
Helping states enact model extreme risk protection order (“red flag”) legislation. In June 2021, the Justice Department published model extreme risk protection order legislation to make it easier for states that want to adopt these red flag laws to do so. These laws allow family members or law enforcement to petition for a court order temporarily barring people in crisis from accessing firearms if they present a danger to themselves or others. 
 
Making progress on a report to give policymakers the information they need to help address firearms trafficking. In April 2021, the Justice Department announced that it will issue a new, comprehensive report on firearms commerce and trafficking and annual updates necessary to give policymakers the information they need to help address firearms trafficking today. To ensure the report is rigorous and helpful for policymakers, ATF has assembled a group of accomplished researchers and law enforcement subject matter experts. The academic team is currently undertaking such work as an independent analysis of ATF firearms commerce data to ensure accurate research that informs key policy findings and recommendations, and an analysis of technological developments over the past twenty years, including the use of polymers for the modular manufacture of firearms, the evolution of 3D printing of firearm components, and the pervasive availability of kits on the commercial market, facilitating the assembly of privately made firearms.
 
Established zero tolerance for rogue gun dealers that willfully violate the law. In June 2021, the Justice Department announced a new policy to underscore zero tolerance for willful violations of the law by federally licensed firearms dealers that put public safety at risk. Absent extraordinary circumstances that would need to be justified to the Director, ATF will seek to revoke the licenses of dealers the first time that they violate federal law by willfully 1) transferring a firearm to a prohibited person, 2) failing to run a required background check, 3) falsifying records, such as a firearms transaction form, 4) failing to respond to an ATF tracing request, or 5) refusing to permit ATF to conduct an inspection in violation of the law.
 
Launched multijurisdictional firearms trafficking strike forces. In July 2021, the Justice Department launched five new law enforcement strike forces focused on addressing significant firearms trafficking corridors that have diverted guns to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and Washington, D.C. Those strike forces have already opened more than 540 investigations and taken custody of almost 3,100 crime guns. In February 2022, the Justice Department built on this commitment by announcing that it is cracking down on the “Iron Pipeline” – the illegal flow of guns sold in the south, transported up the East Coast, and found at crime scenes in cities from Baltimore to New York City – and other firearms trafficking by adding personnel and other resources to strengthen these strike forces.
 
Launched a public education campaign to encourage firearm safe storage. In September, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched a new paid media campaign featuring a series of public service announcements to reinforce the key message that a simple gun lock can save lives. These PSAs appeared across multiple platforms, including TV, social media, and streaming services. The campaign also targeted specific venues and events and involved a diverse array of channels, yielding more than 1.8 billion impressions across all platforms in less than 3 months. Viewers were directed to KeepItSecure.net for additional resources. This campaign will continue through 2022.
 
Launched an unprecedented focus on improving lethal means safety in the Military and Veteran Suicide Prevention Strategy. In November, the Departments of Defense (DOD), Health and Human Services (HHS), Homeland Security (DHS), Justice (DOJ), and Veterans Affairs (VA), as well as the Office of Emergency Medical Services within the Department of Transportation (DOT), announced that they will jointly create a plan for addressing lethal means safety awareness, education, training, and program evaluation. This coordinated campaign will build upon the VA launch in September and encourage safer storage practices, safety planning, and time and space behavioral measures for crisis response.
 
Making it easier for customers to obtain secure gun storage or safety devices. In January 2022, ATF issued a final rule clarifying firearms dealers’ statutory obligations to make available for purchase compatible secure gun storage or safety devices. Additionally, ATF has now issued a best practices guide to all federal firearms dealers to reiterate the important steps they are legally required to take, and additional steps they are encouraged to take, to keep their customers and communities safe. The guide includes materials for Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to distribute to customers to help them better understand their legal obligations as firearms owners, as well as practical steps they can take to facilitate the safe storage of firearms and keep firearms out of the hands of people prohibited from possessing firearms.
 
Making Additional Progress to Reduce Community Violence
 
Many actions listed above will directly reduce community violence disproportionately affecting Black and brown communities. The Administration has also taken a number of steps focused solely on advancing community violence interventions, proven strategies for reducing gun violence in urban communities. As part of his Build Back Better agenda, President Biden proposed $5 billion in funding for the Department of Justice and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to invest in community violence interventions, evidence-based programs that are shown to help reduce violent crime. The President has proposed a $5 billion investment in community violence interventions, including a $200 million investment in Fiscal Year 2022.
 
But this Administration isn’t waiting on Congress to act; we have already invested in and expanded community violence interventions. These actions include:
 
Investing historic levels of existing federal funding in community violence interventions, including American Rescue Plan funding. The Biden Administration made certain American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding – $350 billion in state and local funding, and $122 billion in K-12 funding – available as unprecedented resources for CVI. Senior White House advisors also issued a memo to state and local officials outlining how these elected leaders not only can – but should – use ARP funds for CVI. Cities across the country, such as Seattle, Washington; Buffalo, New York; and Atlanta, Georgia – have responded to this call by committing and deploying ARP funds for CVI. In addition, five federal agencies made changes to 26 different programs to direct vital support to community violence intervention programs as quickly as possible. For example, the National Institutes of Health announced funding through its Firearm Injury and Mortality Prevention Research grants for four community violence programs – including a place-based strategy involving repurposing vacant lots in Detroit, an evaluation of READI Chicago, a burnout prevention program for violence interrupters in Chicago, and a hospital-based violence intervention program focused on youth in Virginia. The Justice Department announced $187 million for states and $85 million for localities through the Byrne JAG Program to support coordinated violence prevention and intervention; the Department explicitly encouraged the use of these funds for CVI. In September, the Department of Housing and Urban Development published a guide explaining to localities how Community Development Block Grants–a $3.4 billion annual funding stream–can be used to fund CVI strategies. The Department of Education released a letter to state school associations on how 21st Century Learning Centers funds and Student Support and Academic enrichment programs – both billion-dollar formula grant funding streams – can be used to fund CVI strategies in schools.
 
Making progress on state legislation to allow Medicaid to support community violence interventions. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services hosted a webinar and published information to educate states on how they can use Medicaid to reimburse certain community violence intervention programs, like Hospital-Based Violence Interventions. Last year, Connecticut and Illinois enacted legislation that allows Medicaid to reimburse providers for hospital-based violence prevention services – the first two states in the country to pursue this approach. According to reporting by USA Today, “[t]he idea has been in the works for years, advocates say, but not until the Biden administration signaled that states could – and should – use Medicaid dollars to support these violence prevention programs have state lawmakers stepped up.”
 
Using the White House’s convening power to support community violence interventions. In July 2021, senior White House staff established The White House Community Violence Intervention Collaborative, a 16-jurisdiction cohort of mayors, law enforcement, CVI experts, and philanthropic leaders committed to using American Rescue Plan funding or other public funding to increase investment in their community violence intervention infrastructure. The Collaborative is spending 18 months strengthening and scaling the jurisdictions’ community violence intervention infrastructure to reduce gun crime and promote public safety. National experts and federal agencies are providing training and technical assistance to help communities assess their existing public safety ecosystem, identify gaps, and build the capacity to expand programming that saves lives. White House staff continue to regularly work with the Collaborative.
 
Providing Law Enforcement with the Tools and Resources They need to Reduce Gun Violence
 
Deploying federal law enforcement to support local communities in addressing gun violence. As part of the Justice Department’s Comprehensive Strategy for Reducing Violent Crime, the Justice Department has supported law enforcement in local communities in addressing gun violence. In particular, the Justice Department has provided enforcement support from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), ATF, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and United States Marshals Service (USMS). In Fiscal Year 2021 alone, the USMS partnered with over 1,700 state and local agencies through district and regional task forces, apprehended more than 84,000 fugitives including more than 6,000 murder suspects, and seized more than 7,000 firearms during numerous violence reduction and counter gang operations. In 2021, ATF embedded with homicide and shooting investigation units in police and sheriff’s departments in more than 60 communities across the country, and expanded the reach of its National NIBIN Correlation and Training Center to an additional 35 sites. ATF now provides ballistic matching services and generates leads for more than 1,400 local police departments nationwide. In 2021, FBI partnered with nearly 2,000 state and local officers as part of its Violent Crime Task Forces and Safe Streets Task Forces, which together have confiscated more than 5,000 illegal firearms. Finally, DEA has strong partnerships with state and local law enforcement – 4,600 of whom served as DEA task force officers in 2021, disrupting the activity of some of the most violent drug trafficking organizations in the country. In 2021 alone, DEA was involved in the seizure of over 8,700 crime guns and opened 912 investigations with a nexus to violent crime.
 
Investing American Rescue Plan funding in community-oriented policing to reduce gun violence. The Biden Administration made historic levels of funding from the American Rescue Plan – $350 billion in state and local funding – available for law enforcement purposes such as hiring law enforcement or paying overtime where the funds are directly focused on advancing community policing strategies in those communities experiencing an increase in gun violence associated with the pandemic. Funds were also made available for additional enforcement efforts to reduce gun violence exacerbated by the pandemic, including prosecuting gun traffickers, rogue dealers, and other parties contributing to the supply of crime guns, as well as collaborative federal/state/local efforts to identify and address gun trafficking channels. Cities across the country, such as Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Syracuse, New York; and Mobile, Alabama, have responded to this call by committing and deploying ARP funds for advancing community-oriented policing. In addition, the Department of Justice continues to further the Administration’s support of community-oriented policing, including through the announcement of $139 million in grants to local law enforcement that will put over 1,000 police officers on the beat through the COPS Office Hiring Program. President Biden was instrumental in that program’s creation and has called for it to be doubled in size in his FY22 budget request.
 
Keeping Guns Out of the Hands of Domestic Abusers. In 2021, the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) expanded the Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Firearms Technical Assistance Project (FTAP) to provide funding directly to those communities that participated in FTAP in the past, as well as choosing new communities to receive funding and technical assistance. FTAP helps communities identify challenges limiting a more robust implementation of domestic violence firearms laws in their jurisdictions and assists them in establishing a localized response that is best suited to their communities’ unique needs and characteristics.  OVW will award an estimated $6 million for up to 12 sites and $4 million for training and technical assistance on firearms and domestic violence.
 
Addressing the Root Causes of Gun Violence
 
Investing American Rescue Plan funding in public safety strategies such as summer jobs for young adults and substance abuse and mental health services. The Biden Administration has made historic levels of funding from the American Rescue Plan  – $350 billion in state and local funding and $122 billion in school funding  – available for purposes such as hiring nurses, counselors, and social workers; providing court personnel and operations costs to return to pre-pandemic operation levels; providing and expanding employment services, including summer jobs for young people and programs that provide training and work experience for formerly incarcerated persons and other individuals who live in communities most impacted by high levels of violence; providing and expanding summer education and enrichment programs, including summer camp; and scaling up wraparound services, such as housing, medical and mental health care, trauma-informed care, substance use disorder treatment, food assistance, and job placement services, for victims of crime, young people, formerly incarcerated persons, and individuals and households facing economic insecurity due to the pandemic. Cities and counties across the country, including St. Louis, Missouri; Tucson, Arizona; and Los Angeles County, California, have responded to this call by committing and deploying ARP funds for these purposes.
 
Providing meaningful work, education, or enrichment to keep young people safe and give them a path to success. For example, in June 2021, the Department of Labor awarded $89 million through its YouthBuild program to provide pre-apprenticeship opportunities for young people ages 16-24. The Department of Labor also awarded $20 million through its Workforce Pathways for Youth program to expand workforce development activities that serve youth ages 14-21 during “out of school” time (non-school hours).
 
Helping formerly incarcerated individuals successfully reenter their communities. Individuals who secure employment after release have much lower recidivism rates than those who do not. Good, stable jobs for the formerly incarcerated promote public safety and reduce violence. That is why the Administration is taking concrete steps to facilitate employment and associated services, such as housing assistance, for people who are formerly incarcerated. For example, in June 2021 the Department of Labor awarded $85.5 million to help formerly incarcerated adults and young people in 28 communities transition out of the criminal justice system and connect with quality jobs. The Department also awarded $25.5 million in Young Adult Reentry Partnership grants to organizations that will help provide education and training services to young adults between 18-24 who were previously involved with the justice system or who left high school before graduation. In addition, the President’s House-passed Build Back Better Act includes $1.5 billion for grants to help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully reenter their communities.
 
Supporting Survivors of Domestic Violence. Research shows that a male abusers’ access to a firearm increases the risk of intimate partner femicide by 1,000%. The COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis have increased the rates and risk for domestic violence nationwide.  For many women and children who experience abuse, home is not a safe place and there were increased barriers to accessing services and support. Last year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program, awarded nearly $1 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) supplemental funding to support services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and their children.