Lakewood, CO – Today, Congressmen Mike Thompson (CA-05), Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, and Ed Perlmutter (CO-07), Vice-Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, re-introduced the Safer Communities Act of 2019. The legislation addresses gaps in current federal gun policy by clarifying and expanding existing federal prohibitors related to mental health, substance abuse, history of violence, and other risk factors to ensure individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others are not able to access firearms.
The Safer Communities Act works to reduce the likelihood of individuals suffering from mental illness from accessing firearms and instead provide them with mental health services. The bill is a part of a larger effort by the U.S. House to make common sense reforms to gun laws. In February, the House passed H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Check Act, and H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Check Act. The Senate refuses to take action on either bill.
“We must do everything we can to make gun violence less easy, less frequent and less deadly, including addressing the role of mental health and other risk factors in gun violence tragedies,” said Perlmutter. “Americans are ready for action. The U.S. House has acted and will continue to act to reform our gun violence prevention measures and make our communities safer.”
“Recent and horrific gun violence tragedies are a reminder that we must address deficiencies in our mental health system and give our law enforcement tools to help prevent these terrible incidents,” said Rep. Thompson. “That’s why I joined with Representative Ed Perlmutter to introduce the Safer Communities Act of 2019. This bill has a comprehensive approach to improving the submission of mental health records into the background check system and providing tools to law enforcement that will allow them to strengthen and improve intervention efforts that keep guns out of the hands of those who may be a danger to themselves. We must continue working to improve our systems and keep our communities safe.”
Through grant programs, the bill works to improve mental health in communities and help states improve records reporting into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). By requiring the FBI to expand its current alert system, state and local law enforcement can pursue cases where prohibited persons try to purchase guns, particularly those prohibited due to serious mental illness. The legislation prohibits the purchase or possession of a firearm by individuals subject to involuntary outpatient commitment, as current federal law has been interpreted to apply only to inpatient commitments. The bill also authorizes grants for states to temporarily remove firearms from individuals if a court finds they pose a significant and dangerous threat to themselves or others.
Perlmutter represented Aurora during the 2012 Aurora Theater shooting, and served in an adjacent state senate district to Columbine in 1999. He has called for common sense gun violence reform measures for years and has served as the Vice Chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force since 2012. In addition to introducing the Safer Communities Act, Perlmutter supports swift Senate passage of H.R. 8 and H.R. 1112, reinstating the federal ban on assault weapon, limits on ammunition purchases, and federal research into the causes and effects of gun violence. Perlmutter also supports expanding Extreme Risk Protection Order laws, such as the one recently passed in Colorado, and is a cosponsor of H.R. 1236, which establishes a grant program for states to implement extreme risk protection order laws.