Over half of Colorado’s lawmakers in Washington approved the federal gun reform package signed into law
On Friday, June 24, President Joe Biden signed the Safer Communities Act, a bipartisan package which aims to address gun violence in the U.S. Over half of Colorado’s legislators voted yes on the bill.
Congressman Joe Neguse, a Democrat who represents Colorado District 2 and Summit County in Washington, D.C., said in a news release that the passage of legislation is an important step to end gun violence.
“The bipartisan agreement we passed (last week) includes several important provisions that will save lives,” Neguse said. “For decades, our country has been devastated by the impacts of gun violence, and today we have finally made progress on enacting common steps to protect our communities. But our work does not end today, and we will continue to advocate each and every day for gun violence prevention measures that keep our communities safe.”
Neguse, who is the vice-chairman of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, voted yes on the bill along with Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper and Democratic Representatives Jason Crow, Diana DeGette and Ed Perlmutter. U.S. Reps. Lauren Boebert, Ken Buck and Doug Lamborn, the Republican contingency from Colorado, voted against the bill. In all, the U.S. Senate passed the legislation 65 to 53 with two abstaining, and the U.S. House of Representatives approved it 234 to 193, with three representatives not voting. In total, there were eight roll-call votes before approval.
According to the bill, several key points will create new systems to access firearms and approach root causes of gun violence, such as crisis intervention. It will create penalties for illegal gun purchases and make it so a buyer under 21 years old must go through an “investigative period” to review mental health and juvenile records, including law enforcement databases at the state and local levels.
Mental health resources will also receive a boost under the bill. The bill aims to expand the community behavioral health center model across the U.S. It also spurs investments to increase access to mental health and suicide prevention programs and other support services, including crisis and trauma intervention and recovery. This includes $750 million to help states implement “red flag” laws to remove firearms from people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others, as well as other violence prevention programs.
“$200 (million) shall be for grants to the states to upgrade criminal and mental health records for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, including grants to assist states in providing disqualifying juvenile records under subsection (G) or (N) of section 922 of title 18, United States Code,” the bill reads. “Provided further, the grants described in this paragraph shall be available to State criminal record repositories and State court systems and $250 (million) shall be for a community violence intervention and prevention initiative.”
It also works to close what was previously called “the boyfriend loophole,” where individuals that were in dating relationships and convicted of domestic abuse were not prevented from purchasing a gun. The bill defines a relationship as “a relationship between individuals who have or have recently had a continuing serious relationship of a romantic or intimate nature,” and criteria such as length of the relationship and frequency and types of interactions between those involved would be considered. Previously, federal law only restricted access to convicted people who were living with their partner, married to them or had a child with them.
Those convicted of non-spousal misdemeanor domestic abuse can have their rights restored after five years with a clean record.
Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, initially introduced the bill in October of 2021. It initially failed in the House of Representatives before being approved again by both chambers then sent to Biden’s desk. The bipartisan package does not include measures such as universal background checks or a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, which were approved by the House and not the Senate.
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