WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) called Senate passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act “an important step forward today to break the decades-long gridlock on gun safety.” He said that the “legislation we passed in the Senate today will save lives and help keep our communities safer, but there are many more reasonable steps we can and should take, consistent with the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans.” Senator Cardin is a cosponsor of legislation to ban assault weapons, ban high-capacity magazines and close the loophole on background checks so that all sales include one. He also supports raising the minimum age of purchasing an assault weapon to 21, in the absence of a ban.
Senator Cardin’s full statement follows:
“After the horrific shooting in Uvalde where innocent children were murdered, inaction was not an option. Congress had to do something substantive to help stem the epidemic of gun violence that is scarring our communities daily. For this reason, and for all the victims of gun violence who may not have made headlines, I was proud to vote today for the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.
“The Senate is taking an important step forward today to break the decades-long gridlock on gun safety. This legislation will save lives by boosting funding for community violence intervention (CVI) and prevention initiatives, like those underway in Baltimore. It strengthens protections for victims of domestic violence by adding convicted domestic violence abusers to background checks. It creates a new source of funding for states to implement “red flag” laws, which help to keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous individuals who should not have access to a firearm. It cracks down on criminals who try to evade licensing requirements and makes clear which gun sellers need to register, conduct background checks and keep appropriate records. It strengthens the background check process for those under 21 seeking to buy firearms, by ensuring that officials have access to juvenile and mental health records.
“We also provide much needed mental health resources to communities by providing funding to improve and expand access to mental health services. Among other provisions, it includes telehealth services for students with Medicaid and CHIP. Increasing resources for mental health services are crucial, but it is important that we not conflate mental illness and gun violence. Not every instance of gun violence is connected to mental illness and not every mental health crisis prompts the use of a weapon.
“To that end, the COVID-19 pandemic has made abundantly clear that our children need additional mental health resources offered in school. We also must significantly increase the pipeline of individuals willing to serve in those school-based mental health service positions. This legislation addresses that challenges head on and provides supplemental funding to both train new school-based mental health service providers and provide students with the specific mental health care services they require. While not able to fully meet the needs of every school currently without a counselor or mental health professional, this bill will make significant strides to ensure that a significantly greater percentage of students have access to mental health care services.
“The legislation we passed in the Senate today will save lives and help keep our communities safer, but there are many more reasonable steps we can and should take, consistent with the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans. I will continue to strongly support the establishment of universal background checks for all gun purchases, the banning of assault weapons and high-capacity magazine clips, and raising the minimum age to 21 to buy assault weapons, in the absence of a ban. The Senate should also act quickly to confirm the nomination of Steven Dettelbach to be the Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). The ATF has not had a permanent Senate-confirmed director since 2015, and the agency is sorely overdue for permanent leadership who can carry out its critical mission to stem the illegal use and trafficking of firearms, among other important priorities.”
Senator Cardin is a cosponsor of the following legislation:
- The Background Check Expansion Act ( 529) would require checks for all gun sales, including those by unlicensed sellers.
- The Assault Weapons Ban Act ( 736) would generally ban the sale, manufacture, transfer, and importation of assault weapons.
- The Background Check Completion Act ( 591) would eliminate the “Charleston loophole” that allows for a sale to go forward if a check is not completed within three days.
- The Keep Americans Safe Act ( 1108) would prohibit the importation, sale, manufacture, transfer, or possession of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.