Historic Package Includes $55 Million in Funding for Gun Violence Research and Measures to Address Background Checks, School Safety, Domestic Violence, City Gun Violence, Police Violence, Ghost Guns, and More
Gun Sense Champions in the House, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), Once Again Demonstrate 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 passing the strongest gun safety appropriations package in history, including several key gun safety measures for which Everytown advocated. The historic package was spearheaded by Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), a longtime gun sense champion who is retiring at the end of the 116th Congress. It includes several gun safety measures, which are outlined in detail below, along with $55 million in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to research gun violence.
“Today, America is seeing an exciting preview of what might happen if we elect a gun sense majority to the Senate and a gun sense champion to the presidency this fall,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. Simply put, this is the strongest gun safety appropriations package in history, and we applaud Speaker Pelosi, Chairwoman Lowey, and the Gun Sense Majority in the House for getting it done.”
“In a time when gun violence is surging and hospitals are overwhelmed by the pandemic, passing this historic appropriations package shows that Speaker Pelosi, Chairwoman Lowey, and other gun sense champions in the House 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 package to become law.”
The package now heads to the Senate, where it will await action from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)––who has repeatedly failed to give gun safety bills a vote during the 116th Congress. It will join other house-passed legislation sitting on his desk, including 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 now House-passed 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: $55 million in funding for CDC and NIH research on gun violence and its solutions, a $30 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: $89 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: $10.5 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 Byrne JAG grant 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: $526 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: $141 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, recommending that part of the $106 million for School Safety National Activities be used to support 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.