Package Includes $50 Million in Funding for Gun Violence Research; Measures to Address Background Checks, School Safety, Domestic Violence, City Gun Violence, Police Violence, Ghost Guns, and More
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) Once Again Demonstrate House Democrats’ Commitment to Gun Safety
NEW YORK –– Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, released the following statements applauding House Democrats for including several key gun safety measures that Everytown advocated for in the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations package. The package includes several gun safety measures, which are outlined in detail below, along with $50 million in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to research gun violence.
“American voters are demanding action to address gun violence, and these appropriations bills are just the latest proof that Speaker Pelosi, Chairwoman Lowey, and House Democrats share their sense of urgency,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “This is the strongest gun safety appropriations package we’ve ever seen come through Congress, and it has our full support.”
“In a time when gun violence is surging and hospitals are overwhelmed by the pandemic, this appropriations package shows that Speaker Pelosi, Chairwoman Lowey, and other gun sense champions in the House Democratic Caucus are meeting the moment,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “We’ll fight alongside them every step of the way to push for this bill to become law.”
The Fiscal Year 2021 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies; Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; and Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies appropriations bills include the following gun violence prevention priorities:
- Increasing investment in gun violence research: $50 million in funding for CDC and NIH research on gun violence and its solutions, a $25 million increase over what was appropriated in FY2020.
- Continuing to require police accountability: Funding critical measures that were in the House-passed George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, including investigations into the patterns and practices of unlawful policing, placing accountability conditions on existing grant programs, and supporting community-based organizations aimed at improving law enforcement.
- Strengthening the background check system: $88 million to incentivize states to provide relevant records to the National Instant Criminal Background Checks System (NICS) databases, and requiring the Department of Justice (DOJ) to alert state and local law enforcement when a prohibited purchaser fails a background check.
- Addressing the surge in gun sales during the coronavirus pandemic: Requiring DOJ to provide comprehensive data on NICS checks for firearms sales that have taken longer than three business days to complete, including the number of those checks that were resolved, the number of those checks that were purged before being completed, the number of denied checks that resulted in firearm retrieval actions being referred to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the number of successful retrieval actions taken by ATF.
- Cracking down on illegal guns: Increasing the resources and improving the tools for identifying illegal guns and gun trafficking patterns, including by requiring ATF to release a report with statistical aggregate data regarding trafficking channels and trafficking investigations, increasing illegal gun trace submission training for law enforcement agencies, and supporting the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network.
- Addressing the rising threat of ghost guns: Urging ATF to amend the definition of firearm frame or receiver to ensure the core building blocks for ghost guns are appropriately regulated under federal law, and directing ATF to provide all available data on the rate that law enforcement encounter ghost guns and recommendations on how to improve data collection.
- Investing in community-based solutions to city gun violence: $9 million for community-based violence prevention initiatives, encouraging the establishment of innovative demonstration grants to hospitals to address the cyclical nature of violence in the community, and encouraging the $525 million Byrne JAG program to further fund evidence-based violence prevention and intervention programs, including intervention focused deterrence, street outreach, hospital-based violence intervention programs, and community inclusive violence problem analyses.
- Preventing domestic violence: $525 million for various life-saving programs administered by the Office of Violence Against Women, $14 million for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and $185 million for the Family Violence Prevention and Battered Women’s Shelters programs.
- Investing in proven effective school safety measures: $140 million for the STOP School Violence Act grant program for proven effective strategies and programs to intervene before a shooting, like evidence-based threat assessment programs, supporting improved access to comprehensive mental health services and establishing positive school climates, and $1 million to study the potential mental, emotional, and behavioral health effects of active shooter drills on students and staff in elementary and secondary school settings.
- Encouraging the use of effective tools to prevent veteran firearm suicide: Encouraging the Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers to utilize extreme risk protection orders, also known as “red flag” laws, and similar gun safety laws in the states that have them to intervene when there is evidence a veteran may be a threat to themselves with a firearm, and to adopt programs and protocols on secure firearm storage to reduce immediate access to firearms in moments of crisis.
A fact sheet on why funding gun violence research matters is available here. Last year’s government spending deal included $25 million in funding for gun violence research––the first funding of its type in more than two decades.
Since the start of the 116th Congress, the House has taken significant action on gun violence by passing H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, which would require background checks on all gun sales; H.R. 1585, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019, which contains life-saving provisions to disarm domestic abusers and stalkers; and H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act, which would address the “Charleston loophole,” which allows gun sales to proceed after three business days even if a background check has not been completed. The Senate, however, has thus far failed to act––with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refusing to even allow a vote on any of these life-saving measures.