Executive Actions on Firearm Violence Prevention Maximize Benefits of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act

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ACP is especially pleased with funding awarded to implementing mental and behavioral health care training into primary care training

July 14, 2023 (ACP) —The American College of Physicians is pleased that President Biden is taking action to reduce firearm violence by maximizing the benefits of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which Congress passed in 2022.

“It's great to see the progress that has already been made in the short time that this legislation has been implemented. The additional steps announced by President Biden show the White House's commitment to maximizing the benefits of the law,” said Renee Butkus, ACP director of health policy.

The president announced on May 14 that his administration has launched and will launch several initiatives related to the firearm violence legislation, which ACP strongly supported. The legislation marks the first action from Congress in decades to reduce the toll of firearm injuries and deaths.

Here are some of the 13 actions highlighted by the White House:

  • In partnership with the Department of Justice, the Biden administration will convene law enforcement leaders to seek their collaboration to improve response rates to federal background check system inquiries when someone younger than age 21 tries to purchase a gun. Since November 2022, the Department of Justice has denied more than 160 firearm transactions as a result of these enhanced background checks.
  • The White House will work to ensure that arrest and adjudication records include additional documentation of dating relationships. This will help implement the legislation's provision that aims to narrow the “boyfriend loophole” and keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.
  • The White House will ensure that the legislation's mental and behavioral health care funding helps those dealing with the grief and trauma resulting from gun violence. Specifically, federal officials will highlight how states and early childhood care providers can use the financial resources. States and schools will also be able to use Medicaid to fund school-based health services to help students dealing with the impacts of gun violence. ACP is especially supportive of these efforts because the College supports public health by addressing the physical and mental stress caused by firearm violence.
  • The White House and Department of Justice will work with state legislators and governors' offices to urge them to enact laws allowing the federal background check system to access all records that could prohibit someone younger than 21 years of age from purchasing a firearm.
  • The Department of Homeland Security will do more to spread the word to K-12 leaders, teachers, parents and others about SchoolSafety.gov and its available resources and evidence-based practices. In addition, the White House reported the Department of Justice awarded more than $230 million for state crisis intervention programs, including extreme risk protection orders, to temporarily keep guns out of the hands of individuals who are a danger to themselves or others.

“ACP is extremely supportive of these programs, and it is great to see more funding going toward them,” Butkus said.

In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Education have already provided states and communities with $1.5 billion in funding for programs such as those that will improve access to mental and behavioral health care services and school safety.

“ACP was especially pleased to see that HHS awarded $60 million in Bipartisan Safer Communities Act funding to help support the integration of mental and behavioral health care training into the training of primary care,” Butkus said. “This funding will support approximately 3,500 primary care residents over five years. In a new action, HHS will be educating health and social service providers, community leaders and others on the effects that gun violence has on communities.”

ACP has published extensive recommendations regarding firearm violence in its policy statement, and it joined leading physician and public health organizations in a 2019 call to action.

ACP urges members to push for states to put red-flag laws into place and mandate the safe storage of firearms. “We encourage members to take action in their states by using the sample letter we've developed to urge introduction or passage of legislation as applicable,” Butkus said.

More Information

A newly updated firearm violence resource page is available on the ACP website.

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