President Joe Biden signed the gun safety package passed by Congress earlier this week into law.
"God willing, it's going to save a lot of lives," Biden said at the White House as he signed the bill. The legislation was quickly drafted following the mass shootings at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, and at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. The bill, called the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, was passed by the Senate late Thursday evening and by the House Friday. President Biden signed the legislation early on Saturday, June 25.
"While this bill doesn't do everything I want, it does include actions I've long called for that are going to save lives," Biden said. "Today, we say more than 'enough.' We say more than enough. This time, when it seems impossible to get anything done in Washington, we are doing something consequential."
The gun safety measure is considered the most significant federal gun safety measure in nearly 30 years. The bill includes an enhanced background check review process, which “includes reviewing juvenile mental health records for individuals 16 years or older seeking to purchase a firearm.” The law includes $750 million to help states implement additional “red flag” laws to remove guns from those who may be a harm to themselves or others.
The bill also promises $250 million for “community violence intervention and prevention initiatives” and $100 million of additional funding to the National Criminal Instant Background Check System.
The new legislation also expands access to mental health services, namely expanding it to help those dealing with the trauma of gun violence and would expand access to community and school-based behavioral health services for children and families. The bill promises $250 million in the form of a Community Mental Health Services Block grant, along with additional mental health resources in schools.
Most notably, the bill pledges $1 billion to “help schools put in place comprehensive strategies to create safe and healthy learning environments for all students,” which includes after- and before-school programs and summer programs. The bill also provides $300 million to students and educators for “the training and tools they need on how to prevent and respond to violence against themselves and others.”
Still, the bill doesn’t go as far as President Biden and gun control advocates would like. Namely, it doesn’t include a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, which are often the firearm of choice in mass shootings. And while it includes expanded background checks, it does not mandate universal background checks.
"I know there's much more work to do, and I'm never going to give up," Biden said on Saturday. "But this is a monumental day."
It’s a step in the right direction. Now to take a million more.