June 24, 2022

Kilmer Votes to Protect America’s Children, Keep Schools Safe, and Reduce the Threat of Gun Violence

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) voted to support the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act – a package of bipartisan proposals aimed at reducing gun violence across the country, investing in mental health and providing support services for children and families, and providing new resources to support schools in their efforts to keep kids safe. The legislation, which passed the House exactly one month after the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, marks the first significant gun safety bill passed by Congress in 30 years. 

“From Uvalde, Texas to Buffalo, New York; Columbine, Colorado to Newtown, Connecticut; far too many communities in America have grappled with senseless, terrible gun violence tragedies. More often than not, the moments of silence following these tragedies have not been met by moments of action in Congress. But today, Congress is finally taking a step forward to reduce the threat of gun violence. By passing these commonsense, bipartisan proposals, Congress is taking concrete steps to protect our children, keep schools safe, reduce the threat of gun violence, and strengthen our communities,” said Rep. Kilmer. “While there’s more to do, this bill is a significant step in the right direction – and will save countless lives.”

The legislation includes a number of critical measures aimed at reducing gun violence and protecting Washington families, including:

  • Support for State Crisis Intervention Orders: Creates $750 million for states to create and administer laws that will ensure deadly weapons are kept out of the hands of individuals determined by a court to be a significant danger to themselves or others, and for extreme risk protection orders that have sufficient due process.
  • Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence by Closing the Boyfriend Loophole: Adds convicted domestic violence abusers in dating relationships to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
  • Banning Gun Trafficking & Cracking Down on Straw Purchases: Cracks down on criminals who illegally evade licensing requirements and clarifies which sellers need to register, conduct background checks, and keep appropriate records, and creates federal straw purchasing and trafficking criminal offenses for the first time, allowing prosecutors to target dangerous illegal gunrunners.
  • Enhanced Background Checks for People Under 21: Requires an investigative period to review juvenile and mental health records, including checks with state databases and local law enforcement, for buyers under 21 years of age, creating an enhanced background check.
  • Anti-Violence Community Initiatives: Provides $250 million in funding for community-based violence prevention initiatives. 
  • Investing in Children & Family Mental Health Services: Supports the national expansion of community behavioral health centers; improves access to mental health services for children, youth, and families through the Medicaid program and CHIP; increases access to mental health services for youth and families in crisis via telehealth; and provides major investments at the Department of Health and Human Services to programs that expand provider training in mental health, support suicide prevention, crisis and trauma intervention and recovery.
  • Investing in Safe Schools: Invests in programs to expand mental health and supportive services in schools, including: early identification and intervention programs, school-based mental health and wrap-around services, improvements to school-wide learning conditions, and school safety. That includes providing $300 million in funding to the STOP School Violence Act program.

In 2018, Rep. Kilmer worked in collaboration with the parents of Sandy Hook Elementary to introduce and pass the STOP School Violence Act, which provides resources to schools to implement proven methods of combating gun violence. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, he has secured ongoing funding for this law over the last two appropriations cycles to support students, teachers, and others in efforts to spot and report warning signs of gun violence before a tragedy occurs.

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which already passed the Senate with bipartisan support, now heads to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.