ACP: Passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act a "Step in the Right Direction"

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Despite the SCOTUS decision on concealed carry permits, ACP is encouraged by passage of the legislation aimed at reducing the threat of firearms violence

July 8, 2022 (ACP) — In just a single day, American leaders took a major step forward in the fight against the public health threat posed by firearm violence, while the U.S. Supreme Court struck down New York's rules for obtaining a license to carry a concealed handgun in public.

The American College of Physicians is pleased that progress is finally being made with the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which President Biden signed into law on June 25. For more than two decades, ACP has been a leading voice in support of common-sense firearm regulations. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is intended to protect America's children, keep schools safe and reduce the threat of firearms violence across the country.

“It's a really good step in the right direction,” said Shari Erickson, ACP chief advocacy officer and senior vice president.

Spurred by the horrific toll of the school massacre in Texas, Senate Democrats and Republicans

joined forces to pass the bill by a vote of 65-33. According to The New York Times, the new law broke through “nearly three decades of congressional paralysis on toughening the nation's gun laws.”

The law enhances “background checks for prospective gun buyers ages 18 to 21, requiring for the first time that juvenile records, including mental health records beginning at age 16, be vetted for potentially disqualifying material,” the Times reported. It also incentivizes states to pass “red flag” laws, which allow firearms to be temporarily confiscated from people deemed to be too dangerous to possess them; tightens a federal ban on domestic abusers buying firearms; and strengthens laws against straw purchasing and trafficking of firearms. “It also includes hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for mental health programs and to beef up security in schools,” the Times reported.

ACP is encouraged by the passage of the law, which includes many of the proposals highlighted in the most recent ACP policy paper on firearms violence prevention, although ACP is disappointed that the law does not include stricter provisions in some areas.

“We've been working toward this for a long time,” Erickson said. “ACP was one of the first physician societies to come out and publicly push our nation's leaders to address the public health crisis around firearm violence. This is a significant achievement, particularly in a very partisan environment.”

The Supreme Court ruling regarding concealed carry permits, however, was a major disappointment to ACP. According to an analysis in The Washington Post, the ruling affects seven states — including New York and California — that restrict who may get a permit to carry concealed firearms. Those states are home to 80 million people.

“Nationwide,” the Post reports, “licensing officials are now required to issue concealed-carry licenses based on objective criteria, without any obligation that an applicant give a good reason to carry.”

According to Erickson, “ACP believes that instead of loosening requirements and restrictions, we need to be looking to enact new policies that would help to reduce the rate of firearms-related injuries and death. We will continue our advocacy since it's crucial to protect the public health.”

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