The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was signed into law on June 25, 2022. It was a major achievement for the Congress to pull together the Bill in a bipartisan manner and approve legislation that may not make anyone at the extremes of the left and right divide happy. But for the 60+% in the middle, it showed that people of good will, respecting the opinions of others, can get something done to impact a problem of concern to the public.
The law provides support to improve mental health services for communities and schools; expands background checks for those under 21 to include juvenile records; funds assistance to states to implement Red Flag laws; closes the “boyfriend loophole;” clarifies trafficking to include “straw purchases;” and funds school safety programs.
Credit for the law goes first to Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D) who vowed business as usual would not pass muster after the Uvalde mass murder. She approached Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel (R) of Kentucky and asked for negotiating partners on the Republican side. McConnell identified Texas Senator John Cornyn (R) and Senator Thom Tillis (R) of North Carolina. The two promptly agreed to meet with Sinema the next day along with Senator Chris Murphy (D) of Connecticut.
Credit also goes to McConnel and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York for allowing the bipartisan negotiation process to go forth. Both risked pushback from within their parties.
Reading the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act there is a lot included that was recommended for national leaders in this blog’s post, “Mourning with Uvalde – what can be done?” Great. That blog post also called for action from my readers. For those that took the time and made the effort to call or write governmental leaders – Thank you! You are part of the solution.
Beyond the specific achievements of the legislation, it is important to appreciate that this was a victory for moderation and problem solving. As I said in Mourning with Uvalde, “Progress comes only through consistent long-term focus and collaboration among the many Americans, both those who do and do not own firearms, who in good faith want solutions to this issue.” Take courage from this success to do more. There is much to do in many states and in your local community and schools.
This success shows that trying to impose views not shared in other communities is wrong and only leads to stalemates and anger. What is acceptable in one region or state may not be acceptable in another. Find areas of agreement where national standards and policies make sense within the constraints of the law. Lasting and substantial change comes from the consensus of a broad majority of the governed - not by edict.
Again, thank you to all who took the time and made the effort to reach out to others to achieve one small goal on this specific issue – it will kindle further trust and cooperation.
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