tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN June 23, 2022 5:59pm-10:00pm EDT
backwards. confiscation first, due process later. that's not how due process works. that's not what due process is. you can call that process, but it's not due process, not for these purposes. it doesn't work. the confiscation before notice a understand a hearing is this -- and a hearing is is this model, this confiscation before notice and hearing model of red flag laws raises concerns, raises concerns of civil asset forfeiture when a pattern is forced to forfeit their firearm pursuant to a civil order without a hearing. this legislation places overly broad and undefined restrictions on second amendment rights. the second amendment rights of law-abiding american citizens. creating the risk that false allegations could and inevitably would lead to the deprivation of a constitutional right with no
recourse afforded to address the harm suffered. now, when you look at the legislation, there are pieces of the legislation that pay lip service to due process while legislation, you might say draws near unto due process with its lips, its heart is far from it. whep you read the fine print, the due process to which it refers is not due process at all. it's poacht deprivation -- post deprivation due process. the procedures we associate with due process, the opportunity to be heard before a fair and partial tribunal, the opportunity to offer up evidence, the opportunity to cross-examine adverse witnesses, things we think of as inextricably intertwined as due process because they are, those things are articulated at
the back of this due process paragraph of the bill. it makes revenues to the fact that that's the type of due process that in the view of the bill can, according to state law, be made either before or after the constitutional deprivation in question, depending on the dictates of the state law at issue. that's not due process. that's something else, and that creates a lot of problems. there are other problems with the legislation dealing with juveniles, problems arising out of uncertainties that the legislation itself creates. i want to be clear about something. i could certainly consider supporting a measure prohibiting certain older juveniles who have been convicted of crimes as adults, crimes that if they had
been committed by an adult would have been deemed felonies, and on that basis deem they prohibited persons. i could consider that. there are a lot of public policy questions surrounding that, and i think there are a lot of people on the left and on the right who would have concerns with opening that up, with saying we're going to allow, in fact require juvenile records to be entered into the nics system. remember the nics system said database, the database that's used to identify prohibited persons, persons who are prohibited from buying or otherwise acquiring or even possessing firearms and ammunition as defined by 18 u.s.c., section 922-g. or alternatively persons who, to whom one may not lawfully
sell or otherwise transfer firearms or ammunition as defined by 18 u.s.c., section 922-d. both 922-d talks about those to whom you may not transfer a weapon and 922-g, those who may not acquire or possess a weapon weapon, both provisions have nine paragraphs attached to them. in each instance the nine paragraphs are virtually identical. in other words, the universe of those who may not buy or possess weapons is essentially the same as those who may not be sold weapons, to whom you may not sell them. it's almost essential. in fact, the only distinction i can think of under existing law
is that while under 922-g, you may not possess a firearm if you are a convicted felon, that same prohibition extends in 922-d in such a way that you may not sell or otherwise transfer a firearm to a person who is either a convicted felon or has been indicted for a felony and is standing under indictment, under currently pending criminal charges. other than that, as far as i can tell, 922-d and 922-g are coextensive. this legislation changes that a little bit, and it prohibits the transfer of a weapon under 922-d to a person who as a juvenile stood convicted of a crime that would be a felony. this creates all sorts of
uncertainties in law because in many, if not most states, juvenile proceedings, what we would consider juvenile criminal proceedings are in fact not criminal proceedings. the defendant isn't entitled to a jury trial. and in the federal criminal system, a juvenile criminal defendant may not have a jury trial. even if they want one, even if all the parties were to dprea, dprea, -- to agree, they can't allow them. in many state systems, including the state system in my state, the state of utah, juvenile criminal proceedings are not even criminal proceedings. they're civil proceedings very often conducted under civil law procedures rather than criminal law procedures. so the same protections aren't in place. again, i'm open to the idea of
opening this up because i think there are some juveniles who commit some offenses, particularly in their later teenage years, that perhaps ought to be taken into account for purposes of 922-d, such that you can't give them a gun or under 922-g, such that they may not possess a gun without committing a felony. i think we could have that debate and discussion. we should have that debate and discussion. that hasn't occurred here. instead what we've done is muddied the waters by creating a very significant difference between 922-d and 922-g, between those prohibited from being given a gun and those who are prohibited from possessing a gun. but we haven't defined it well, and it's not really clear what it is that we're doing or what it is that makes it fair. nor is it clear, as i read the legislation -- and again it's been less than 48 hours since we've had access to it. it's about 80 pages long.
it doesn't read like a fast-paced novel, full of cross-references. as a former federal prosecutor who is very familiar with laws and prosecuted cases under them, even with that level of familiarity, it has taken me some time to get through it and understand what it means. and in fact, to this moment it is difficult for me to ascertain exactly how far these changes go. it's not clear to me, for instance, which kinds of criminal records for juveniles will be added on to the nics system. the nics ?im is -- system identifies those from possessing firearms or being given firearms under 922-g and 922-d respectively. it's a database that keeps track of those prohibited persons. it's not clear to me which types of juvenile records can be taken into account in those
proceedings. this also allows for a prohibited, one can be a prohibited person under 922-d and 922-g if they have been adjudicated -- and this is terribly awkward language, if they have been add jiewd indicated as a -- add jiewd indicated as a -- adjudicated as a mental defective or institutionalized. it's an offensive term to testimony and full of uncertainty. we've compounded the uncertainty by now saying a that mental health records of older teenagers, those between 16 and 18, will now be uploaded on to the nic system such that certain mental health crises one experiences as an older teenager could result in an older teenager later in life being unable to possess a firearm
without committing a felony. that raises some concerns, or at least those drafting the bill would probably interpret it differently to say they may possess one in some cases, but not necessarily be someone to whom a gun can lawfully be sold or otherwise transferred. that also raises additional questions. 922-d and 922-g are currently nearly identical except in their rare exception that i noted just a moment ago. and yet we've had no conversation about these. we've had no conversations about what this does for juvenile criminal justice, about what this does to the rights of individuals who as juveniles may not fully understand the ramifications of the criminal proceedings against them or of decisions regarding their mental
health at the time those decisions are made and that might affect them later in life, including after they have become adults. my point is not to say these things don't matter. they do. and i think there are a lot of these people who probably shouldn't have guns and should be prohibited persons. but we need to know what we're doing. we need to agree on what's actually happening because right now we take some areas of the law that are already fraught with some uncertainty and we're magnifying that uncertainty many fold. i think that's dangerous. and i think it's dangerous in a way that both democrats and republicans ought to find offensive, sometimes for the same reasons, sometimes for entirely different reasons. my point is this, there's no reason why legislation like this , it's got some good provisions in it. there's no reason why this
couldn't be amended in such a way that would allow more members of this body to vote for it or vote against it, depending on what it looked like at the end of the day. but the way it's written, it's got a lot of problems with it. you've got the due process problem that i mentioned with the red flag laws. that's their distinguishing characteristic is due process problem. you've got the juvenile records problem that i mentioned just a moment ago. it's not fair to people to leave them in that state of uncertainty, especially juveniles. and so that ought to be a concern to all of us. perhaps we might get to the place where these provisions do just what the proponents of the bill say that it does. but in this instance, as in so many other areas, the best way to get there is to go through the normal deliberative process, the process that long defined this institution as the
world's greatest deliberative body, which includes a full opportunity to present and vote on amendments and to hear concerns and objections raised by members of this body. members of this body, some of whom have experienced with the statutory framework in question and can offer insights as to what might have been overlooked. i speak here with my colleagues who are part of this effort. i speak with great respect toward them and admiration for the fact that i think they're motivated by and large by a desire to help people. i don't think any member of this body wakes up every day and says i want to make america less safe or i want to make america less fair. i don't think that's what's going on. but i do think we delude ourselves, we sell ourselves short, and we harm our constituents when we pretend that it's okay to pull the functional equivalent, the
legislative equivalent of running through a congested intersection with our eyes closed and think that that's not going to cause problems. that is exactly what we're doing here. this is the legislative equivalent of driving with your eyes closed through a busy intersection. we're making some really big mistakes here, and a lot of these are mistakes that could be fixed with relative ease. we'll never know, we'll never know what might have happened. it may be that this could have been something that had we gone through the whole amendment process, could have been supported by nearly all or even all members of this body. but we'll never know of that now. we'll never have that opportunity. instead we're going to push through this rushed piece of legislation that i'm convinced no one has read in its entirety
prior to its release and essentially no one was familiar with by the time we started voting on it, and then we were told no opportunity to make it better. if you know there's a problem with it -- and i've noticed several -- we really don't care to hear about it. expediency demands that we somehow just rush this through, but the american people deserve better. there are moreover other provisions of the legislation that have raised some eyebrows. there are provisions of this bill that provide funding to encourage states to provide medicaid and chip services in schools under the auspices of an effort to increase access to mental health, to mental health services in the schools. federal medicaid l funding is of course something that cannot
lawfully be used to perform abortions except in the case of rape, incest, or to preserve the life of the mother. some have pointed out that schools under this legislation easily could use the clinics established under the bill as a means of accomplishing the provisions -- provision of abortions and also prescribe abortive drugs using state, rather than federal, medicaid funds. there's been some discussion even today about this, the fact that we still don't know this is troubling to many. i'd certainly like to know what the definitive answer to it is. as far as i can tell, it does open the door to that. we ought to at least be able to have that discussion. now, there are some legislative options before us that address things that can be done practically to improve safety.
one is the luke and alex school safety act, which is included in this bill. like i say, there are plenty of things in this bill that are unobjectionable, and this is certainly first among them. and it codifies into law the federal clearinghouse on school safety. i spoke in favor of this bill at a judiciary committee hearing just last week. additionally, i support the bill's provisions increasing penalties for straw purchasers who know or have reason to know that the gun they're purchasing for someone might be used in a crime. and i'm open to other proposals that tackle safety in schools head on. senator marshall, from kansas, has an interesting amendment that would use unspent covid funds to improve school safety and school security.
look, there are a lot of things in this legislation that really ought to be discussed in greater detail, and we haven't been able to discuss them. we haven't been able to debate them. we haven't been able to amendment them because of the rush process. it begs the question, why are we in such a rush? don't america's schoolchildren and america's teachers and america's moms and dads deserve better consideration than this? schools are out for the summer at the moment. would actually be good tore us to ache -- good for us to take a few more things to discuss this and get to a better seclusion. why are he we -- why are we rushing it? i want to get back to the juvenile provisions for a minute. this is something that professor leider speaks about at some length. he raised observations that i hadn't entirely considered. i'd like to share some portions
of that. at the end of this i'll be offering this. i ask unanimous consent at the conclusion of my remarks to be able to submit this op-ed submitted by professor leider into the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lee: professor leider describes one feature of the bill, particularly discouraging, particularly troubling. i spoke of the juvenile provisions a moment ago. i identified some troubling features of them. professor leider gives additional commentary on this and provides additional observations, not all of which had been noticed by me. here's how he puts it, quote, the most significant provision in the bill is the prohibition against firearm possession by those cop vikd of a misdemeanor -- convicted of a misdemeanor violent crime against a dating partner, closing the boyfriend loophole.
he goes through this after he has discussed the problems with the juvenile provisions, noting that this will create disparities, it will cause uncertainties with juvenile offenders of one sort or another, then he goes through a full ir-- a fuller explanation of how those operating under the boyfriend loophole provisions might be affected. he continues, quote, but the senators who negotiated this bill evidently couldn't agree on the definition of a dating partner. they define dating relationship as a relationship between individuals who have or have recently had a continuing serious relationship of a romantic or intimate nature, but relationships come in all forms, and this definition provides little guidance. he continues, the senators provided three categories -- three criteria for consideratioh
of the relationship, two, the nature of the relationship, and three, their frequency and type of interaction between the people involved in the relationship. this, professor leider continues, means that a continuing serious relationship will be some function of quantity of dates, length of time, and physical intimacy, but these vague factors don't provide fair notice and are susceptible to inconsistent application. let me pause there to just note what he's referring to, the so-called boyfriend loophole exists because two of the provisions in 18 u.s.c. 922 g defining the prohibited persons, paragraphs 8 and 9 respectively applied to those individuals who have either been in receipt of a restraining order arising out of a domestic relationship, under
paragraph 8, or those who have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, under paragraph 9 of 922-g. in both cases, there has to be a relationship that makes it about a domestic situation. has to be an intimate partner of one sort or another. current law tends to define that as a spouse when you're dealing with the spouse, or a live-in partner, for example. but this provision seeks to address what the sponsors of the bill refer to as the boyfriend loophole, meaning what about someone who is not married and who doesn't reside with or hasn't resided in the past, didn't reside at the time with the person, but was nonetheless
in a type of romantic relationship. now, here again, it's not a bad impulse to want to close some ambiguities in the law, but you've got to do it with language that makes sense, do it with language that puts people on fair notice of what the consequences of a guilty plea might be, or what the consequences of not litigating more aggressively in the context of a restraining order or something like that might be. particularly in the context of 922-g-9, where we're dealing with a domestic violence misdemeanor, the person needs to know when that person is being asked to plead guilty what consequences that might have on the person later in life. those questions aren't answered here. professor leider continues, quote, by failing to define
dating relationship, the term dating relationship adequately -- that's the term of art that they introduce into this legislation -- congress is effectively delegating the critical question of who falls within that ban. to whom it is delegating the hard details remains to be determined. perhaps it will be to the bure alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives, which has regulatory authority over firearms. or the courts may decide, as they resolve cases. either way, congress has yet again handed off its responsibility for defining crimes to unelected bureaucrats and judges. then he continues, quote, until a specific definition exses, it is unclear -- exists, it is unclear how the federal government will implement this prohibition. suppose a criminal records check indicates that a potential
purchaserser committed assault and battery? what next? maybe the trial record will show that the defendant was in a relationship with the complaining witness, or maybe it won't. if such a relationship -- if such information is available, how is the examiner supposed to gauge the relationship? the available records likely won't provide the precise details -- details of the relationship. even if they do, the examiner still has to decide whether the relationship was serious enough to trigger the gun responsibility. the senate compromise feeds many prospective gun owners to the bureaucratic wolves, closed quote. professor leider's point is an excellent one. when people are going through criminal proceedings, if they've been charged with a misdemeanor and they're deciding how aggressively to fight it, whether to take it to trial,
whether to plead guilty, under what terms to plead guilty, it's nearly always going to be in state court. after all, it's very few criminal convictions are in federal court. a tiny percentage of them. and the prohibited persons, as defined under sections 922-d and 922-g, the underlying convictions can be either state or federal. these proceedings nearly always taking place in state court, rather than federal court, are not going to be in aings -- in a position, it's not going to be in their jurisdiction to decide whether or to what extent this puts them in that status, in that boyfriend status. in that status of a, quote-unquote, dating relationship. the term is so vague, the structure so broad and undefined that it is not reasonably
possible to know what consequences the law might attach to a guilty plea in that circumstance, or to a conviction following a jury trial in that circumstance. you know, james madison said, in federalist number 62, and i'm paraphrasing here, something to the effect that it will be of little avail to the american people that their laws may be written by individuals of their own choosing. if those laws be so voluminous, complex, or ever-changing that they can't reasonably know, from one day to the next, what the law requires of them this is one of -- requires of them this is one of those moments. we're imposing a pretty significant restriction, on a constitutionally protected right that may well apply for the rest of their life in some cases. without them even knowing what's happening. this is the kind of rain that
will fall on the criminal defendant of all backgrounds, of all political views, every demographic could be harmed by this, in one way or another. and so it really would be better if we were taking the time to draft this legislation carefully , and that's my number one complaint with it, it's why i can't vote for it. some of the things in here i wish i could vote for, but they've lumped it all together, they've said here you go, take it or leave it. but look, you put red flag laws in here, knowing that red flag laws, the way we've now outsourced them to states and we've now started paying the states, giving them money to adopt red flag laws, whose distinguishing characteristic is to take away someone's constitutionally protected right without due process of law. that's a problem. when you add to that complexity by adding uncertainty about the
juvenile records problem that i identified, which ought to be concerning to many liberals as well as many conservatives, and when you add to that by coming up with this vague, broad definition of dating relationship, it has huge consequences with no reasonable ability to understand and ascertain how certain court proceedings might affect someone's rights, perhaps for the rest of their life, that's a problem. doesn't have to be this way. i look forward to the day when the senate will operate the way that it was designed to, the was i that it once did, the was i that it, in fact, has operated in the not too distant past. but we've got to demind it. as long as -- to demand it. as long as people continue to tolerate, accept, condone, award and encourage this type of sham process, we'll be left with
subpar legislation, sloppily written. i'll conclude with the words, once again, of professor leider, who says it well. quote, the bipartisan safer communities act will likely pass, because members of congress feel enormous pressure to do something. but it is not a good bill, and it deserves further deliberation and refinement. the senate's job is to help draft good laws by cooling the passions of the moment. right now, it is failing. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
>> bipartisan hard work on one of the most challenging subjects we have here, which is gun, gun violence, mental illness all the things that contribute to these horrible tragedies, and something has to be done, and something has been done. there's going to be people that look at the piece of legislation that we're about to pass in a bipartisan way, say it is not enough. i can understand that. there will be other people saying that it is too much. they want to take my guns away. i can understand their concern because people have scared them
that it is a constitutional amendment, that's not going to happen. i want to reaffirm myself coming from a little town farmington west virginia being raised in a gun culture, growing up in a gun culture. my father was not a sportsman. he was not a gun person, but i was part -- he wanted to make sure i had access to people who knew how, that lived this culture that knew how to teach me properly. growing up, they had the farmington sportsmen club. these were the men who worked in the mines that kind of took us under his wing. all these young kids. they taught us gun safety. they called it gun sense. we're going to teach you some gun sense, joe. i said okay, i understood it. gun sense, it is a sensible thing you do with a gun. it is a law-abiding thing the law-abiding gun owners do. they teach safety, how to handle the guns, before you prepare to hunt, or before you're going
shooting, whatever you're going to do. they teach us about that and everything they possibly can and explain to us why they are teaching us. they say the first of all, the most important thing to know that when you acquire a weapon, and it is a weapon is basically to feed your family, to defend your family and basically the sporting of skeet or target shooting. i says i got it. i understand it. they said do you understand that? i said what? you never sell your gun to a stranger, never ever. if you don't know the person, that is not someone you want to sell to until you know exactly who they are and what their comment may be. that's part of my gun culture. you never sell your gun to a stranger. you never loan your gun even to a family member that's not responsible. discuss the pending business on the floor. you and i both arrived in the senate at the same time ten years ago. when you and i had barely been
here a few days, the country was shocked with a tragic shooting, the sandy hook shooting in newtown, connecticut, when a deranged monster came in and murdered little children, elementary school children. everyone across the country was horrified. and over the past decade we've seen that pattern repeat itself over and over again. tragically, my home state of texas has seen more than our fair share of horrific crime. of mass murder. most recently in uvalde. i was there in uvalde the day after the shooting where a deranged monster murdered 19 little children and 2 teachers. before that, i was in santa fe
where yet another deranged monster murdered schoolchildren. i was in sutherland springs, the worst church shooting in u.s. history. i stood in that sanctuary the day after the shooting, a beautiful, small country church. the pews had been flung aside in the chaos. there was shattered glass, there was a cell phone with a shattered screen covered in blood. and i saw the pool of blood where an 18-month-old child was systemically murdered by that psychopath. i was in el paso, i was in midland, odessa; ifs -- i was
in dallas. over and over again we have seen the face of evil. we have seen horrific crimes. and let me be the first to say there are too damned many of these, and we need to stop them. unfortunately i've also seen what inevitably follows these horrific crimes, which is a political debate that breaks out within seconds of the crime occurring. there are two principal approaches one can take to try to prevent crimes like this. one is to target the bad guys, to focus on criminals, to focus on felons, to focus on fugitives, to focus on those trial to illegally buy guns, to put them in jail, to lock them up, to get them off the street
so that they cannot terrorize and murder innocent people. that's the approach that actually works. that's the approach that is actually successful. that's the approach that is most likely to prevent subsequent mass murders. there's a second approach, which is an approach that is disarming law-abiding citizens. inevitably democrat members of this chamber, minutes after an attack, move towards wanting to disarm law-abiding citizens. that approach is, i believe, number one, unconstitutional. but, number two, it doesn't work. it is ineffective. put simply, taking guns away from law-abiding citizens, disarming you or disarming me is not going to stop a mass murder.
and we know this. if you look across the country, consistently, the jurisdictions with the strictest gun control laws over and over again have among the highest crime rates and among the highest murder rates. when you disarm law-abiding citizens, what happens is the people who follow the law disarm. that's almost by definition if they're lawbled -- law-abiding citizens. but the criminals don't follow the law. and if you disarm all the victims the result is it's easier for the criminals to commit their acts of mayhem. plbt, let me point out a statistic that many of us don't know. it's a statistic that comes from the barack obama white house, so it is hardly a right-wing source. according to the barack obama white house, every year in america, firearms are used
defensively to stop a crime between 500,000 and one million times each and every year. what does that mean? that means that if democrat proposals to disarm law-abiding citizens succeed, the result will be even more crimes. the result will be those 500,000 to a million crimes that are right now stopped every year won't be stopped. that means more assaults. that means more sexual assaults. that means more murders. that means single moms riding home on the train, if they're not able to have a revolver in their purse to defend themselves from marauding criminals, then they're left defenseless.
in debates over how to approach violent crime, that 500,000 to a million people each year who are using a firearm to stop a crime, they get left out of a lot of these discussions, but they would be victims if democratic senators succeed in taking away their right to keep and bear arms. when you and i were brand-new here in the wake of newtown, connecticut, there was a democrat majority in this body at the time. harry reed -- harry reid was the majority leader. barack obama had just been elected president and you will recall senate democrats was exulted. senator schumer was on tv saying we were in the sweet spot to finally pass far-reaching gun control. and i will tell you the
colleagues on my side of the aisle were discouraged and demoralized, and many thought there was nothing we could do to stop the agenda that was being pushed forward. i can tell you, i didn't believe it then and i don't believe it now. and so i sat down and drafted legislation designed to actually do what every person in this chamber i believe really wants to do, which is stop violent crime, stop these murders, stop the next lunatic who would shoot up a school or shoot up a church or shoot up a mall or shoot up a grocery store. the legislation i drafted was called grassley-cruz. i teamed up with my colleague, the senior senator from iowa, chuck grassley. grassley-cruz focused on several things. first of all, it focused on strengthening the background check system.
it required the department of justice to conduct an audit of every federal agency to make sure that any felony convictions are reported to the background check system. it provided funding and incentives for states to report felony convictions to the background check system. interestingly, many states have a lousy record of reporting felonies to the background check database. ironically many of those are blue states led by democrats who talk about gun control, and yet the state governments and local governments often fail to report felony convictions to the database. grassley-cruz provided strong incentives to get those felony convictions in the database. secondly, grassley-cruz provided funding for prosecutors to prosecute those who commit violent crimes with firearms and put them in jail. third, grassley-cruz provided
funding for the department of justice to create a gun crime task force to prosecute felons and fugitives who try to illegally buy guns. mr. president, many people don't know this but it's actually quite shocking. the department of justice has a consistent pattern of refusing to prosecute felons and fugitives who illegally try to buy guns. in the year 2010, roughly 48,000 felons and fugitives tried to illegally purchase firearms. of those 48,000, the obama justice department prosecuted 44 of them. not even 50. 44 out of 48,000. i think that is completely unacceptable. so grassley-cruz provided funding and directed the department of justice prosecute them and put them in jail. on top of that grassley-cruz created grants for schools to
enhance school safety, to enhance security, to make our schools and make our kids safer. so, mr. president, what happened? grassley-cruz, we voted on it here on the floor of the senate, and grassley-cruz received a majority vote on the senate floor. 52 senators voted in favor of grassley-cruz, including nine democrats. remember this was a democrat senate. democrats had a sizable majority, and yet nine democrats, we got the most bipartisan support of any of the comprehensive legislation that was considered on the floor. so why didn't grassley-cruz pass into law? we got a majority vote in the senate. the answer is simple. grassley-cruz didn't pass because senate democrats filibustered it. they demanded 60 votes, and so even though it got a majority, it didn't get 60 and it didn't pass.
mr. president, i'm going to share something that is deeply frustrating. there is a powerful argument that had grassley-cruz passed, that senate democrats not filibustered it, that multiple of these mass shootings in texas could have been prevented. let's sort with southerland springs. southerland springs should never have happened. the shooter was doubly ineligible to buy a firearm. he had a felony conviction, and a domestic violence conviction. so under existing federal law, it was illegal for him to buy a gun. so how did he get his gun? well, the air force in the obama administration failed to report his felony conviction to the background check database. it wasn't in there. so the shooter went to buy a
gun. he filled out the background check form and he lied. he lied on the form. the form asked, do you have a felony conviction? he said, no. the form asked, do you have a domestic violence conviction? he said, no. they ran the check and it came up clear because the obama air force never reported the felony and so it wasn't in the database and it came up clean. he bought that gun and he used to to murder those innocent people. if grassley-cruz had passed. presumably the audit of every federal agency would have caught that conviction. the whole purpose of the audit was to make sure we catch everiful he felony conviction that's out there which would have meant his conviction would have been in the database. that's where the second part of grassley-cruz matters. when he went in and lied on that form, he committed two more felonies. lying on that form is a felony. it is a crime.
when he checked i don't have a domestic violence conviction, that's a felony. and grassley-cruz would have directed the department of justice to prosecute him and put him in jail. and that monster would have been locked in a six-by-eight concrete cell instead of murdering innocent people in the wonderful community of southerland springs. you also look at santa fe and uvalde, and there's a possibility that both of those crimes could have been prevented by grassley-cruz. part of grassley-cruz was funding to enhance school security grants to go to schools. one of the things that is
frustrating about these school shootings is they follow predictable patterns. in parkland, florida, the shooter jumped over a fence and came inside. in santa fe, the shooter went in and unlocked side -- went in an unlocked side entrance. afterwards -- you know, the santa fe high school is less than an hour from my house. i was at home that morning, the morning of the shooting. i was on that campus about an hour after the shooting occurred. it was horrific, it was tragic, i grieved and cried with the parents who lost their children that day. i remember sitting down afterwards at a roundtable with the parents from santa fe and parents from other mass shootings that occurred and talking about, what are the
solutions we can do? how can we prevent this? one of the solutions we discussed were best practices, how do you make a school safer? one of those best practices is limiting the number of entrances to a school. ideally, bringing it down to one single main entrance, the front entrance. now, that doesn't mean, as some on the twitter sphere have said, that you have no fire exits. of course you have fire exits. it means you do what we do in many other places -- in federal buildings, in banks, in courthouses. it is a standard security step to have one major entrance to a building, if that building is at risk of violence. and that one main entrance is then much, much safer if you have armed police officers at that entrance. when you go into a bank, there
is a reason you see an armed officer at the entrance. when you go into a courthouse, there's a reason you see an armed officer at the entrance. when you go into the united states capitol, there's a reason you see an armed officer at the entrance. our kids are at least as valuable. if the santa fe high school or the robbtory school had been able to get a funding grant to enhance security, those crimes could have been prevented. when i was in uvalde the day of at shooting, what was so infuriating is that monster got in the exact same way, through an open backdoor, just like in santa fe, he got in through an open backdoor and got into the classroom and began murdering children long before he encountered anyone from law enforcement. if instead that door had been
locked, if he had been forced to come around to the front main entrance, if at the front main entrance there were armed police officers, they could have shot that monster dead outside, and 19 children and two teachers would still be alive. so, like millions across this country, i am angry. i'm angry that these horrific crimes keep happening. but i'm also angry that this august chamber plays political games. the bill that is before this body is being heralded in the press as a bipartisan bill because it's got every democrat and some republicans.
i think the chances that this bill will do anything meaningful to actually prevent the next mass murder are very low. that's not what this bill is designed to do. this bill is designed, among other things, to satiate the urge to do something. after every one of these,the call comes out, do something s i agree, do something. but do something that works. do something that will stop these crimes. this bill ain't that a -- this bill ain't that. but it does have provisions that are troubling. it does have provisions that satisfy the democrat political priority to go after the second amendment right to keep and bear arms of law-abiding citizens. most troubling in this bill is the funding of so-called red flag laws. now, these so-called red flag
laws have been implemented in multiple states, and they enable the state to take away the right to keep and bear arms from law-abiding citizens. they render you vulnerable, that if you have a disgruntled coworker, an angry ex-boyfriend, and angry ex-girl, they can go and give the state the power to strip you is of the right to bear arms. not if you are a criminal, not if you have committed crimes, not if you have been adjudicated to be a danger to yourself or others, red flag laws take away your right to the defend yourself. in too many of these states, these provisions have little to no protections of due process. the senate passes this bill, federal dollars will be used to encourage more states to enact
laws like this. that means federal tax dollars will be used to implement programs that will strip away americans' constitutional rights and, mark my words, people will lose their lives over this. that we will see red flag laws that are abused and citizens who are disarmed and tragically we're going to see a citizen who's disarmed who is subsequently murdered. look, the right to keep and bear arms, it's not about hunting. it's not about conceit shooting. those can be a lot of fun to do. but that is not why it is in the constitution. the bill of rights does not have an amendment devoted to recreational shooting. the reason the second amendment is in the bill of rights is because you and i and every american have a god-given right
to defend our life. there's no right more fundamental than the right to defend your own life. and the right to defend your family. the right, if a criminal comes into your house at night seeking to do harm to your children, you and i have a right i believe that derives from god almighty to defend our kids. and whether any individual member of this chamber agrees with that right or not doesn't really matter because it's right there in the bill of rights. so the constitution protects it whether you agree with it or not. and the reason i say these red flag laws, we are going to see people lose their lives over it, is because often when people go and buy a firearm, it's because they're afraid. it's because maybe they've got an angry ex-boyfriend, and angry
ex-girlfriend, maybe they've got a neighbor they're scared of, maybe they've got somebody threatening them, and we are going to see these laws abused to disarm someone hose -- who is subsequently made the victim of a violent crime. and none of the politicians in this chamber who vote for this bill will take any responsibility for the people's lives who will be lost because of it. mr. president, you might say, well, look, that's all fine and good. but if you don't like this bill, what should we do? well, it so happens i have an answer to that. this week i filed legislation along with senator john barrasso from wyoming, the cruz-barrasso legislation builds on what already received a majority vote in this chamber, the grassley-cruz legislation of a decade ago.
let me tell you what cruz-barrasso does. it focuses on actually stopping this problem. so cruz-barrasso funds the department of justice to prosecute violent criminals who use firearms. mr. president, you're from the commonwealth of virginia, a wonderful state. as you know well, some of the most important work stopping violent crime and gun crime was pioneered in the commonwealth of virginia during the bill clinton presidency. an initiative was started called project exile in the western district of virginia. the u.s. attorney there laid out a policy that if anyone commits a crime with a firearm who is illegally possessing that firearm -- meaning likely there is a felon in possession -- that
the feds were going to prosecute them put them in jail and they'll face fines. the prosecutor passed out laminated cards. they put up ads, billboards in richmond, virginia, richmond tragically had an incredibly high murder rate. they put up billboarded h.s -- carry a gun, do hard time. and project exile worked phenomenally. the murder rate in richmond, virginia, plummeted and we began hearing stories of criminals, criminals that would come to knock off a liquor store, criminals that would come to do a home burglary who would leave their gun at home. they'd say, long, if i break into this house and i've got a gun with me, i'm doing hard time in federal prison. i think i'll just go there without a gun. it worked.
what is cruz-barrasso disco do? it takes project exile nationally. 23 provides funding for prosecution. if you've got a crime and a gun, you're off the streets. you want to stop these crimes in that's a step that will stop these crimes. what else does cruz-barrasso do? it creates a gun crime task force at the department of justice to prosecute the felons and fujitives year after year after year who try to illegally buy a gun. and who d.o.j. won't prosecute right now. if cruz-barrasso passes, the next southerland springs can be stopped. you know, there are some democrat officials who say, we don't have time to prosecute people who try to illegal lay buy guns. i've repeatedly heard testimony from democrat witnesses in the judiciary committee saying that. let me tell you something right
now. if a murderer or a felon is trying to buy a gun, i don't think that's a paperwork offense. i think they should be prosecuted and put in jail. what else does cruz-barrasso do? it provides major funding to make our schools safer. it provides much more funding than the democrats' bill. all told, $36 billion in this bill. it provides funding, mr. president, to double the number of police officers in schools across america. to double them. you want to keep kids safe? the single best step you can do is have police officers on campus so that our children have the same protection that members of congress do, so that our
children have the same protection that courthouses do, so that our children have the same protection that banks do. cruz-barrasso will double the number of police officers in schools across america. not only that. let's talk mental health. we all know there is a problem, these deranged shooters over and over again follow similar patterns of being isolated, aing angry loaners -- angry loaners with a long pattern of struggling with mental health, often making multiple threats before they carry out a horrific crime. cruz-barrasso provides $10 billion in funding for mental health counselors in schools across the country, to help identify troubled youth and to stop them before they commit a crime like this. now, mr. president, earlier
today there had been discussion that majority leader schumer would schedule a vote on cruz-barrasso. right now, it appears that may not happen. we're going to vote, one way or another. and if i have to exercise the procedural avenues available to me as a senator to force that vote, i'm more than happy to do so. but let me tell you actually why we're not seeing the vote so far. because my amendment is drafted as a substitute. in other words, it would replace the pentagon bill on the floor -- the pending bill on the floor. and an awful lot of senators don't want to have to vote on that. now, i challenge any senator in this chamber to try to make the case that this democrat bill on the floor would be even half as
effective in stopping violent crime, in stopping mass shootings, in stopping criminals from murdering children in school as my legislation would be. the democrat bill has a fraction of the funding for police officers. it has a fraction of the funding for mental health. the democrat bill doesn't provide that violent felons who use guns should be prosecuted. the democrat bill doesn't provide that people who illegally try to buy firearms, who are felons and fugitives, should be prosecuted. the democrat bill is not focused on criminals. it's not focused on bad guys. it's focused on the democrat priority of disarming law abiding citizens. that's a political priority that too many that's democrats -- that too many senate democrats value more than keeping kids safe. so if we don't see a straight-up
vote on my amendment it is because too many senators in this chamber don't want to vote on a head-to-head choice between actually keeping kids safe versus achieving the political agenda of the left of disarming law-abiding citizens. mr. president, that's wrong. it's cynical. i have to say in these debates, listen, this is a topic that is emotional. it's a topic that is personal. it's a topic that inevitably the rhetoric gets overheated, and it gets overheated on both sides. some years ago i found myself curiously enough in a twitter debate with a alisa milano, the
act regs from hollywood -- the actress from hollywood, left wing actistivist, over the issue of gun. we went back and forth over gun control, the second amendment, and spoip she said -- at some point she said something to the effect of you wouldn't dare are have this conversation with me in person. i said of course i would. i invited her to come to my office. she came to my office and what proceeded is we had a 90-minute discussion and debate about violent crime, gun control and the second amendment. we live streamed it. so anyone who wants to see it can go watch a 90-minute discussion. i will say, i commend ms. milano. i think the two of us managed to have a much more civil conversation on this than most of the interlocutors on this topicsic. one of the things i said at the start of the discussion, i said listen, if we start from the premise, if we sit in this room
and look at each other and we both assume the other is evil, the other is lying, the other seeks to do harm, is we're not going to have a very productive conversation. if each of us thinks of the other, you want children to die, you want people to be murdered brrks you know what, that's not going to lead to a very productive conversation. i suggested to her, i said, why don't we start from the proposition that you and i both would like to see innocent people protected and saved? that you and i both, like anyone sane and rational, are utterly horrified at the depraved monsters that murder innocent people, and especially those who murder children? there is a special circle of hell for the people who hurt
kids. if we start from the premise that you and i, even though we're of different political parties, even though we may believe different things politically, we both like to see human life saved and preserved, then maybe we could have a productive discussion about what steps can be taken to be most effective saving human life. if we agree we both want to prevent future murders, we both want to protect our kids and your kids and kids across america, then we can have a real discussion that is factual, that is empirical and based on evidence and data as to what policies are actually effective in stopping violent crime. there was a time where this august chamber had discussions like that, had debates. i would note, this particular
bill, there have been no committee hearings on it. there's been no meaningful debate. this is an exercise of partisan power and political objectives. so we're not engaged in a meaningful discussion of what policies are actually effective stopping violent crime, preventing mass murder, protecting children. and mr. president, if we were, i challenge any democrat in the chamber to stand up and explain how on earth this democrat bill could be even half as effective in preventing school shootings as would the cruz-barrasso bill. by any measure the legislation i'm fighting for is stronger, it will put more violent gun criminals in jail, and it will double the number of police
officers in schools across america. it will make our children safer. if we were willing to have a discussion about substance, about the merits, that should be a pretty easy discussion. but sadly too many in this body immediately play politics. and also give in to the overheated rhetoric of this issue. those who advocate gun control inevitably say if you support the second amendment, blood is on your hands. let me tell you something. if you oppose the second amendment and you disarm people who become victims of violent crime, blood is on your hands.
rather than either of us saying language like that, it seems to me we should come together and say how do we stop the bad guys? what works? what is effective? what can we do together to make sure to maximize the chances that we prevent another uvalde, another santa fay, another another another sutherland springs, another midland odesa, another dallas? the stakes are too serious for political games. mr. president, you weren't serving in this body ten years ago when we voted on grassley-cruz. but at the time, nine democrats voted for it. it received the most bipartisan support of any of the comprehensive legislation before this body.
it got a majority vote in the harry reid democrat senate, where the democrats have -- had a substantial majority. i would urge you, mr. president, and every other democrat to demonstrate the same principle and the same courage that those nine democrats did a decade ago. let's vote for legislation that will actually solve the problem. that will actually stop violent criminals, that will actually keep our kids safe, and let's resist the political urge to try to attack and undermine the second amendment, to try to disarm law-abiding citizens. i can tell you as long as i am serving in this body, i will fight with every breath i can to defend the constitutional right to keep and bear arms of every american. it is in the bill of rights.
it is a foundational right. we can do both. we can stop criminals and protect the second amendment. this will on -- this bill on the floor, the democrat bill, does neither. so i urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass cruz-barrasso and abandon the democrat legislation that doesn't stop violent crime but that does infringe on the second amendment. i yield the floor.
>> tragic in so many ways, but i think moving forward in others. last month 19 kids were killed in air own school rooms -- in their open school rooms, two teachers were killed in uvalde, texas. it was a horrific act, agonizing thing for family and community. i think along with the buffalo, new york, event an agonizing thing for our country. one thing that almost all these mass shootings have in common is a perpetrator who had a mental health issue that wasn't dealt with properly. let me say before senator stabinau and i talk. people with mental health conditions are not dangerous. mental health is a health issue.
we ought to treat it as a mental health issue. in rare and tragic occasions people with a mental health issue undealt with can become dangerous. that's what we have seen in this and other similar circumstances, and so one of the responses is always well, we need to have a better mental health delivery system, and that's true, but we should realize according to national institute of health, for at least a decade now, they've estimated that at least one in five americans has a diagnosable and almost always treatable mental health or behavioral health issue, and frankly, the pandemic made that even greater. june 2020 survey by the cdc found that 41% of adults in the united states said they'd had at least one symptom of a mental
health condition in a recent time. and 11% said they'd seriously considered suicide in the previous month. now, those are extraordinary numbers, but even if half of those numbers were correct, you see the size of the problem we have, and the importance of dealing with that problem. of course we had even more alarming numbers with children and young adults during the lockdowns, months of virtual learning, time away from their friends. i'd argue too much time on screens. the effect of the pandemic on close family members had a staggering toll on the country. children's hospitals saw mental health emergencies among 5 to 17-year-olds increase by 14% in the first half of 2021 compared to 2019 and a 45% increase in
self-injury and suicide for children in that age group. pediatric hospital needs, pediatric mental healthcare needs are greater than they've ever been. we need to be sure that everyone who has a mental health crisis or has an ongoing mental health problem has the help they need when they need it. the bipartisan legislation we're debating today expands access to high quality mental health and behavioral health through what senator stabinau and i will point out we believe to be a truly proven model of community-based care. the excellence in mental health program, a program we brought to the floor in 2013 and then got passed, signed into law in 2014, at the time, the senator mentioned that that bill marked the most significant expansion
of community mental health and addiction services in decades. when we passed this bill, it will be more dramatic in its long-term impact. we worked on these issues together with pilot states. we've worked on these issues together that brought projects in individual states that weren't part of that eight state and eventually nine state pilot, and so today, we're able to come with five years of history in this program, reimboursement model that matters -- reimbursement model that matters and results that make a big difference. i'm glad to be here with my good friend from michigan. we're going to do this together for the next few minutes to talk about what can happen because of a critical piece of this community safety bill that is in so many ways a mental health and mental health delivery bill that we're going to see expanded in the country in unique ways.
senator stabenow i would like to turn to you for a few minutes to talk about this. >> thank you, senator blunt and mr. president. i have to say this has been a wonderful partnership and a wonderful journey now for, gosh, almost 10 years, i think that we have -- since we originally started talking about the idea that we should be funding healthcare above the neck, same as healthcare below the neck as part of the healthcare system and not to stop and start grants when community health centers are so wonderful for physical health. we have done that. i want to before going into the substance give a shoutout, though, because we're not the only ones that have been working for almost ten years, our wonderful staff alex on my staff who has been working on this legislation for eight of these years and kaitlyn wilson on your staff who was amazing and i understand recently stolen by
senator cornyn. she's continued her work, but so many people have worked with us that were very grateful to including the main authors and the folks that have put this bill together like senator cornyn who has been such a strong supporter of what has become an evidence-based quality initiative. we don't have to make something up when folks say what do you want to do about mental healthcare or addiction care? we actually have a proven model now, and also to chris murphy and senator tillis, so many people have been supportive of this as well. and i just want to take us back for just a moment because when we came to the floor, senator blunt when you mentioned 2013, we came to the floor to mark the 50th anniversary of president kennedy signing the community mental health act. and as we know, that was the last bill he ever signed before
himself being shot. and part of that was to stop causing people in hospitals -- locking people in hospitals and create more quality care in the communities. shut the hospitals, open up services in the community. as you have said so many times, half of that happened. the hospitals were closed. but we didn't provide the quality and the funding, permanent funding for the community care. that was 1963. we are doing it now in this bill. that's what we're doing in this bill is completing what was promised in a national bill signed in 1963. so we know again that one out of five people in our country -- and this is before covid will have a mental illness in their lifetime, leading cause of
death, again, prior to covid for people under age 50 is a drug overdose, opioid overdose. we know that the leading cause is the most likely gun death is a suicide, which by the way in this bill there's an important piece on red flags that i think is so important because that means that if a family member, if those around someone feel that they are a danger to themselves and someone else and should not have access to a gun, they can go through a legal process to have that happen so that that person is not using a gun to commit suicide or suicide/homicide through a mass shooting. but what is so significant about this is that we know that across this country, certainly across michigan, i know in missouri, we
have so many people, i mean, there are millions of people today that want to be able to get help for mental health or addiction as part of the healthcare system, and we want them to do that. we don't want them to be a stigma. you know, there used to be a stigma. people would whisper he's got cancer, and now we openly talk about that. we have wonderful programs and people get treatment, and there's no stigma related that. it is very challenging, but there's no stigma. we want that for memberal illness, for behavioral health, so this isn't about saying every person with a mental illness is dangerous at all, at all. this is about saying we want everyone to get the help they need, and in that situation, that rare situation where somebody doesn't get help, and then takes those next steps and is unstable and dangerous, we certainly want to address protecting themselves, their
family, the school, the neighborhood, the community, and that's what the gun safety provisions of this are all about. let me just one other thing and turn it back to senator blunt. we now have between the number of demonstration states we've had now for a number of years. we also have 435 clinics, many of them funded through what we developed as start-up grants so that they can get started, develop the quality standards, be able to show what a difference it made, but i think we were both pretty blown away when we saw the difference it made, when we saw the original numbers from health and human services, the studies that were done, both in democratic and republican administrations, reinforcing that, the fact that right now, if you have a 24-hour psychiatric crisis services center, which is part of this, these clinics, people aren't going to jail. 60% fewer people going to jail
because they're getting the help they need, which is why law enforcement so strongly supports this. what's been happening is people go to the emergency room instead because there's no place -- our jails, our emergency rooms have been become de facto mental health treatment centers because there was no place else. 41% reduction in homelessness with comprehensive care in a community, and that's what in this bill, and it really is transformative, wouldn't you say, senator blunt? >> i think the point you are making here too are that these are -- we now have five years of evidence in several states, multiple years in other states, so this isn't just assuming what will happen, but looking at what we have carefully tried to keep track of what does happen, and as you pointed out, that de facto mental health system, mental health delivery system emergency rooms and police,
nobody was well served by that. certainly the police weren't well served. the emergency rooms weren't well served, and people had many mental health challenges weren't served by that as well. seeing those numbers go down dramatically of people having to go to the emergency room for mental health services or being kept in jail overnight or longer than overnight for mental health services, nobody benefits from that system, and so we're seeing real numbers where the people this work at the emergency room -- the people that work at the emergency room, the people that are in the police department are among the biggest supporters of this system when it gets in place. also the whole idea of crisis intervention. there are opportunities in this law for that to happen, and in any of the new structures, whether that's drug court or veterans court or other places you would go to try to make sure somebody is getting the help they need when they need it, there will also be due process
involved in anything added that we use this bill to be added to the system. due process where people have a right once -- now if there's an emergency moment, obviously have to deal with that as an emergency moment, but people then have a right to have their day in court as well, if they're not part of that crisis intervention moment of seeing that happen, and so that's important, but, you know, in missouri, 150,000 people are now part of this excellence and mental health effort. that's about 40% increase on what some of the same facilities were doing before, but now they do it with more certainty that they are going to get their costs reimbursed. they do it with the right kind of staff, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
they have to be available. the new states that enter the program will go through that same type of competition to be among the 10 states every two years that could enter the program and get us to all 50 states in that program and have the kind of staff they need, the kind of accessibility they need. i think originally, in our bill, which was eight years ago now, 2014, 24 states applied to be one of the first eight states in the pilot program. 19 of them went through the whole process, and eight states were selected, but in the other states, there are now 30 states that have big units that were able to qualify as individual demonstration grant units to show what they can do, and we really i think both believe that those units in those states will become both the models and the incentive to bring the whole
state into that program now that that's possible, and seeing what we're seeing with results, and also results in the non-mental health side. one of the unique things i think that this pilot did was -- part of the pilot was to see what happens with the other healthcare issues that people have who have mental health concerns, and what's happened is they have seen those costs go dramatically down. if you have a behavioral health problem that's being dealt with, you are much more likely to show up to your doctor's appointment. you are much more likely to show up to dialysis. you are much more likely to take the medicine that's been prescribed whether it's for your mental health situation, and occasionally that's the best way to deal with mental health, or your other health situations, and so those costs go down. even in the immediate healthcare space, mr. president, we're seeing that states believe they are saving money in the immediate space of healthcare.
there's never been any question that in the long run, you'd save money. if you treat mental health like you treat all other health, there's never been any question that -- whether it's the prison system, law enforcement, or your personal income capacity, all those are good things to do, i think what we have shown in these early states is that even in the immediate healthcare space, you save as much money or virtually as much money or even more money on the other health costs for the one in five adult americans, and now big numbers among younger americans that have a mental health problem. you save as much space with their other health problems. one in five adult americans are going to have a lot of other health problems, a pretty big segment of our society. i think, senator stabenow seeing what's happened there has also been persuasive to states as they are beginning to think about making this part of their
permanent program when these pilot projects are over. >> [inaudible]. as we know, in the end, this is all about people, and i think what's been most exciting for me and i know from my friend and partner is that people's lives are changing. opportunities for them are changing. and when we look at this legislation broadly, it is about saving lives, whether it's through issues to gun safety, whether it is through getting the help you need, mental health help and addiction services help, whether it's making sure our schools are safer, making sure broadly services are available in the schools. i mean, it is all about creating safety and a better quality of life. and i think it's also exciting, you know, we're talking about community behavioral health clinics that with broader investments here on mental health as well. there's a strengthening of the suicide hot line which is so connected to what we have been talking about today.
telehealth we know during the pandemic how critically important that was for mental health services and so on. that strengthened. there's about a billion dollars worth of investments in some way in our schools, school health clinics and other opportunities. what i think is exciting is that we're not only supporting schools and teachers and in all of these areas that are so important, but we're making sure that when they find a child that needs help, there's somewhere to go because when you're talking about really investing in transformative certified community-based behaioral health clinics, that means there's a service in the community. maine. ms. collins: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i rise today in strong support of the bipartisan safer communities act. mr. president, once again our
nation has been horrified by mass shootings. this time of shoppers killed in buffalo, new york, and of schoolchildren and teachers murdered in texas. 12 of us have come together to develop the bipartisan proposal before us to help address the gun violence that is plaguing our country. we were led by senators chris murphy, john cornyn, kirs -- kyrsten sinema and i want to recognize each of them. our commonsense plan increases mental health resources, improve school safety and support for students, and helps ensure that
dangerous criminals and those who are adjudicated as suffering from mental ill illness cannot purchase firearms. if enacted, mr. president, our bill will save lives. at the same time it steadfastly protects the second amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners. it is not hyperbole to say that this legislation represents the most significant gun safety legislation in decades. i would like to highlight, mr. president, two specific provisions of this bill that will i worked on and that will have a significant impact in maine and across the country. first, our bill will fund crisis
intervention programs like maine's yellow flag law which our state's supreme court just upheld as constitutional this very week. maine's law which has robust due process protections allows the court following an assessment by a medical professional to determine if individuals should temporarily lose possession of firearms because they pose a serious threat to themselves or to others. maine's law was developed in consultation with the sportsmen alliance of maine, and it has likely saved lives. this federal legislation will provide maine with more
resources to fully implement this important program. it will help connect law enforcement, medical professionals, and people in crisis through telehealth services as well as provide additional financial help to ensure that the law can be efficiently and effectively utilized when necessary. second, our bill will also help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals. the bipartisan package includes the stop illegal trafficking and firearms act that i coauthored with senator patrick leahy. it cracks down on straw purchasing and firearms trafficking. i would like particularly to thank senator heinrich with whom i worked to further refine this
proposal so that it could be included in this bipartisan package. senator heinrich was a wonderful partner as we worked through all of the details of this provision. mr. president, the trafficking of firearms to violent criminals, gangs, and drug trafficking groups presents a serious threat to public safety in communities across america. straw purchasers, individuals who purchase guns for other people who are prohibited by law from receiving such weapons are the linchpin of most firearms trafficking operations which are responsible for funneling firearms into our cities and across our southern border.
currently, there is no criminal statute specifically prohibiting straw purchasing or firearms trafficking in the way that we needed to do. instead prosecutors rely primarily on paperwork violations that prohibit making false statements in connection with the purchase of a firearm. our bill as establish -- our bill establishes new, specific criminal offenses with significant penalties for straw purchasers and firearms traffickers along with enhancemented penalties -- enhanced penalties when straw purchase firearms are used in connection with serious criminal activity like terrorism or drug trafficking. the danger presented by straw purchasers and firearms trafficking is not abstract,
it's not theoretical. it's very real, a real and present danger. maine's u.s. attorney darcy mclewey recently described how gun and drug trafficking in our state and elsewhere are often intertwined. individuals would come to maine with guns and leave us their drugs and go back, she explained. she added that in recent years guns acquired in maine represented 7% of massachusetts' gun recoveries at crime scenes while massachusetts' guns were responsible for 20% of ours. so that means that both their guns and their drugs are coming into our state. i am quoting our new u.s. attorney. in a recent example of gun and drug trafficking along the i-95
pipeline, a massachusetts man was sentenced to seven years in prison after receiving two pistols from a straw purchaser while facilitating fentanyl sales in bangor. what we've seen are gang members from connecticut coming to maine with heroin and swapping heroin for guns. gun trafficking is also a border security issue. law enforcement has long been concerned about the flow of firearms from the united states into mexico. according to a recent report, more than 70% of all crime guns recovered in mexico between 2009 and 2014 and that represents more than 73% -- 73,000 firearms
were traced back to the united states. and the mexican government has estimated that 200,000 firearms are smuggled from the united states into mexico each year. ol tools to law enforcement and prosecutors to prevent and prosecute these crimes. this is meaningful legislation that reflects input from gun safety advocates, gun rights groups, the u.s. department of justice, law enforcement officers and others. thus, in addition to helping keeping our schools safe and our communities safer, this bill will help to address the gun violence and drug problems that are plaguing our communities more generally.
mr. president, i come from a state with a strong heritage of responsible gun ownership. this package reflects conversations that i have had work the sportsman alliance of maine, the national shooting sports foundation, and other responsible groups. it is worth my emphasizing one more time that we are able to make these significant improvements without infringing on the rights of law-abiding gun owners. finally, it is important to note that this package demonstrates that members of the senate can come together and work in a constructiveway to -- in a constructive way to get important goals achieved on behalf of the american people.
>> yet, like they are designed to prevent a crime before it happens, even if it means violating civil rights in the process. it asks several important questions, can people who are flagged as threats be involuntarily committed? are they appointed legal counsel? will a federal database be established to track flagged citizens? these are questions that civil libertarians should be asking, especially since many people who are red flagged will have committed no crime. there will simply be like phillips anderton who might commit or might be a danger to someone. we are reminded that the idea of pre-crime didn't originate with the minority report.
in 1984, orwell writes, the big brother arrests, tortures, imprisonments and vaporizations are not the result of people breaking laws, but there are no laws in oceana. these punishments readers learn are merely the wiping out of persons who perhaps might commit a crime at some time in the future. red flag laws are well-intentioned. everyone is searching for a way to prevent the senseless massacres of school mass shootings. i think assessing the violent criminal records of juveniles is a reasonable way to try to prevent these killings. though really, most states have already laws on the books that criminalize threats of violence. the problem isn't a lack of laws to stop these killers, it is a lack of persistent application of existing laws. the shooters at parkland and buffalo both committed criminal
threats in advance of their killing sprees, and yet law enforcement did not vigilantly prosecute them. instead of seeking to enforce existing laws, states have one after another instituted red flag laws -- the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i come to the floor tonight sharing the concerns of every member of this body to find the best way to protect children who go to school. so that children can go to school in safety and parents can send their children to school feeling that the children will be safe. after we've seen the tragedies across the country, i think every member is here trying to find the best solution, and i think that the one that senator cruz and i have offered is one that will provide the kind of safety and security for our kids, for our schools, and for our communities, and that's why
we've introduced this substitute amendment that we're bringing to the floor this evening in an effort to do just that. we bring this at a time when the nation's attention is focused on what has happened at schools and communities around the country, and how to best address it. and as a physician, a doctor who served in a state legislature, and now in this body, i've seen the devastating impact of mental health challenges and problems and unanimously and -- and families and how much that has contributed to what we've seen with these terrible acts. so what we bring here tonight is legislation focused on safe schools and mental health, while protecting the second amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. with that, i would turn to senator cruz to make a motion to to that impact.
mr. cruz: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cruz: mr. president, this body has a choice before it -- do we pass legislation that will be ineffective in stopping violent crime, that has very little prospect of preventing the next mass shooting, that will do very little to make schools safer, but at the same time will undermine the second amendment rights of law-abiding citizens? that's the democrat bill that is currently on the floor. or do we instead move to pass real legislation that will stop violent crime, that will put gun criminals in jail that will prosecute felons and fugitives who try to illegally buy guns, and that will provide serious
funding for school safety? the cruz-barrasso legislation provides funding to double the number of police officers in schools across america so our kids can be kept safe. $36 billion total in funding repurposed from unspent democrat emergency funds. this bill also provides $10 billion in funding for mental health counselors in schools, to stop troubled teens before they go down ar horrible -- before they go down a horrible road. the democrat bill has much smaller funding for cops in schools, much smaller funding for mental health, but much more infringement of the second amendment rights of law a abiding citizens. so it's a choice all of us have. do we want to stop these crimes, or do we want to play politics? i would note, mr. president,
that the proponents of this bill at the outset sword up and down -- swore up and down, there will be amendments. we will have amendments on this bill. well, right now, the majority leader wants no amendments. how do we know that? because the majority leader has filled the amendment tree, has blocked amendments. this morning, the majority leader was saying that he would allow a vote on cruz-barrasso, a straight-up vote. but for whatever reason, that has changed. so right now, amendments are blocked, but fortunately it is the right of any senator to move to table that blocking amendment, and that's what i will do momentarily. and the reason i am moving to table this blocking amendment is to take up cruz-barrasso. and so this vote is a straight-up vote. do you support serious law enforcement? do you support prosecuting
violent criminals who use guns in their crimes? do you support prosecuting and sending to jail felons and fugitives and those with serious mental illness who try to illegally buy firearms? and do you support getting serious about protecting our schools? do you support doubling the number of cops in our schools so that our kids are safe? do you support funding mental health counselors so our kids are safe? this is an opportunity for every senate to decide if they support doing something that actually fixings the problem -- that actually fixes the problem, or if they put a higher priority on partisan politics, on the merits this vote should be 100-0. we will see what the vote is in reality. accordingly, i move to table amendment number 5100, and i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be.
the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. ms. stabenow: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that notwithstanding rule 22, the lay .. s. 2089, that the motion to concur on the house amendment to s. 2089 with amendment numbered 5133, be considered made and agreed, and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table all without intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. ms. stabenow: thank you very much, mr. president. i want to thank my colleagues for supporting this effort and this legislation which we have dubbed keep kids fed because that's exactly what we are going to be able to do to help our schools and churches and local
providers provide meals for children this summer and help for the school year. i want to thank my colleague and partner, true partner in this, senator boozman, for all of his efforts. we know we're getting back to normal. we're not there yet. and the folks who run our schools and summer meal programs need extra support through this coming year and that's what we are doing right now. so we just passed something fully paid for that will ensure that millions of children don't go hungry this summer and next school year. and i will finally say this, keeping kids fed is nothing new. we've been doing this on a bipartisan basis since the national school lunch program was established 76 years ago. so we're just continuing a bipartisan tradition and i want to thank colleagues for allowing us to be able to move forward on this bill. and i would now yield to my friend, senator boozman.
the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas. mr. boozman: i rise today for just a moment to discuss the keep kids fed act, which will help schools and summer providers operate as they return to normal while facing supply chain problems and inflated food costs. this bill is the result of a bicameral, bipartisan agreement that assists schools and students as they assume regular operations of the meal programs. the waivers to provide higher reimbursement rates and universal free meals under these programs during covid are no longer necessary. however, schools still face unusual time with a 35% to 40% increase in food prices due to inflation and supply chain difficulties. this bill provides targeted and temporary relief for the 2022-2023 school year to help schools with higher school costs and is fully offset.
we all want to ensure that children in this country receive healthful and affordable meals to help them focus on their education. this bill will help schools provide meals as they return to normal. i ask colleagues to support the bill. and, again, thank you so much, senator stabenow, to you and your staff and to my staff and everyone who worked so hard to come to an agreement. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. schumer: mr. president, tonight the legislation is passing bipartisan legislation that will keep america's school kids fed for the summer. a hungry child is a horrible thing to see and because of the amazing persistent work of a great bipartisan team, senator stabenow, chairman of the agriculture committee, chairman boozman, ranking member of the agriculture committee. the worst of the pandemic is hopefully behind us, but schools in this country are still
suffering from the challenges that covid created, supply chain issues making it harder to provide students the meals they need over the summer. it would have been awful for the senate to leave without taking action to provide the waivers necessary to make sure kids can get the free meals they need over the summer. kids deserve to be healthy, they deserve to be well fed, and by extending had these in nutrition waivers before they expire, we can be sure that no student will have to worry about where they'll get their lunch this summer. the good, persistent, steady hard work of senators stabenow and boozman, made sure that didn't happen.
a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. cornyn -- mr. cornyn: mr. president, tomorrow will mark one month since the tragic shooting in uvalde, texas, a high school dropout with a history of violence and mental health struggles, purchased two ar-15's within days turning 18, and he passed a background check. he then shot his own grandmother because she wanted him to go back into the classroom rather than drop out of school and then went to the robb elementary school through an unlocked door. he then opened fire on two
fourth grade classrooms, killing 19 students and two teachers. the american people were shocked, outraged, and devastated by this attack and collectively asked, how can we prevent this from happening again? while the discussions surrounding this topic causes emotions to run high, and i understand why, for too long some politicians have tried to pit the right to live in a safe community against the iewnl right to keep -- constitutional right to keep and bare arms, they make it seem like the country can only have one, either the second amendment or safe schools and churches and grocery stores. and, of course, this is a false choice. law-abiding gun owners are not
the problem. men and women who buy guns to protect themselves and their family, to hunt or engage in sports, they're not a public safety problem. following the shooting, i promised to do everything in my power to try to answer that call to do something. i don't believe in doing nothing in the face of what we saw in uvalde and we've seen in far too many communities. doing nothing is an abdication of our responsibility as representatives of the american people here in the united states senate. at the same time, i reiterated my bottom line, which is i would not support any provisions that infringed on the rights of law-abiding gun owners. again, they are not the problem. but i knew that this effort was about the art of the possible,
looking at areas where we could agree and setting aside those areas where we could not. i was fortunate to find partners who were thoughtful and realistic about how we could pass this bill. i want to thank senators murphy, sinema, tillis, as well as a larger group of senators without whom this legislation would not be on the cusp of passage. thank you. thank you for not listening to the naysayers and the critics and those who would spew disinformation an outright -- and outright lies about what we're doing here, but stood up to the responsibility we all have as united states senators to do our very best to make progress, to try to answer the call in the face of these
tragedies and try in the end to save lives, which is what this is all about. now, less than one month after the shooting inle uvalde, the senate will -- in uvalde, the senate will vote soon on the bipartisan safer communities act. this legislation will protect our schools, protect our communities and safeguard the second-amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. i've said it before and i'll say it again. no parent should ever fear for the safety of their child at school, and no child should be afraid to go to school in fear of their safety. and this legislation responds to that in a positive and an affirmative way. this bill includes targeted commonsense measures to prevent violence and to save lives while respecting our constitution.
madam president, the dirty little secret is america is experiencing a mental health crisis. our mental health delivery system is a scandal. too many people are not getting the sort of attention and care they need in order to manage their mental health challenges. and many of them can be saved from the fate of salvador ram rs or adam lanza if they can get access to timely care and the medication that will help them manage their mental illness. so this bill will represent the single, largest investment in community-based mental health care in american history. that's huge. that's enormously important. and to me it may be the most important aspect of what we do here. so police officers answering a
911 call from somebody in a mental health crisis, they don't have to take that person to jail where they won't get help. they can take them to a community-based mental health delivery system, to a clinic. and a person experiencing a mental health crisis, they don't have to go to the emergency room. they can go to a clinic and get the sort of care and help they need in order to manage their condition, whatever it may be. this bill will also provide supportive services for our schools. our schools should be a sanity -- to be asanctuary, a sanctuarr children, not a place where they plan what will happen during the next shooting and how they can hide under their desks or try to make their escape. schools should be a sanctuary,
and this bill will provide the kind of services that will help identify students in crisis and help intervene to provide them the assistance they need. this bill also provides major investments in school safety and security. it includes physical safety measures. we probably can't eliminate human error like we saw in uvalde, texas, but we can promulgate the best practices which we have done in this bill from the best minds based on evidence that what works and what does not to make sure we keep unauthorized visitors out of the hallways and the classrooms as well as evaluate current protocols and like i said, develop best practices. again, those who say we need to infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens under the
constitution in order to make good policy are offering a false choice. passing good public policy and supporting the constitution are not mutually exclusive. one of the ways we are providing assistance to the states is through crisis intervention grants which will provide the states with funding to implement programs to help those in crisis and prevent them from committing self-harm or harm to others. we have rejected the idea of a national red flag law, even though 19 states and the district of columbia have chosen to do that themselves. and one of the ways we can help is to make sure that these funds assist state officials in training them how to make sure that the due process rights of an individual are protected as they should be.
this legislation also closes a gaping hole in background checks system which is the lack of juvenile records. this is a real challenge because most juvenile records ever sealed or expunged. but we know that salvador ramos who went in at 18 years old and passed a background check, he was a tic ticking time bomb. everybody knew he was struggling with his mental health challenges and he was slowly circling the drain because he didn't get the help that might have prevented his self-harm, not to mention the harm to others. but if a person's record includes a criminal conviction or mental health adjudication that prevents them from purchasing a firearm as an adult, it shouldn't matter whether they were 17 or 18 at the time. that information should be available on the national instant criminal background checks system and that's what
this bill will encourage. our bill incentivizes the states to upload this information to ensure that disqualifying criminal convictions or mental health adjudications are available. unless a person is convicted of a crime or adjudicated as mentally ill, their second amendment rights will not be impacted by this legislation, period. let me close by saying i'm grateful to senator murphy who's been a good-faith partner. he'd like to do a lot of things in addition to what we've done here, but he was pragmatic and realistic enough to know if we were actually going to be successful, we weren't going to be able to do everything that he wanted. conversely, there were things that we did on our side that were outside of our comfort zone that frankly were having to
explain to people, but that's the -- that's what a good-faith negotiation looks like. and again i think on balance, the good we are doing here and our -- the potential we have to save lives is worth any sort of concession we might have had to make during the negotiation. let me also express my gratitude to senator sinema, the senator from arizona, who's been a key partner in the negotiation as well as senator tillis, the senator from north carolina, but the truth is a lot of people were involved in this. and i want to thank all of our colleagues who helped us round out this legislation and make sure it delivers the benefits that we sought. we also worked with a variety of stakeholders from education to mental health groups to law enforcement as well as gun rights groups. i appreciate everybody who has helped us make this product
better, and obviously we don't agree on a lot of things, but i'm encouraged about how much common ground we were able to find. our bill has earned the endorsement of more than 100 mental health and education groups, including the national alliance on mental illness and the national association of school psychologists. it's received the support of law enforcement organizations, including the fraternal order of police, the national sheriffs association, the national district attorneys association, and the major cities chief association. it's been backed by domestic violence groups, such as the national network to end domestic violence and the national coalition against domestic violence. i believe we have in the gallery tonight people who have suffered unthinkable losses of loved ones
in some of these mass shooting incidents. but i wanted to tell them that their advocacy has turned their pain into something positive. i believe the best antidote for the sort of unthinkable loss that they have suffered is the knowledge that something good will come out of their trag tragedies, something that will save lives. this broad support for this legislation shows that it's a meaningful comprehensive response to the tragedies we've experienced. and i'm proud of what we've been able to do together. and i'm positive -- i'm very optimistic about the impact it will have on our sools and community -- schools and communities across the country. so thank you, colleagues, for working together in good faith in a bipartisan way. i think in one way we've demonstrated to people that our institutions can work.
many have come to doubt whether we're capable of making our institutions work, including the world's greatest deliberative body, the united states senate. and we proved that we can when sufficiently inspired by the people in the gallery and others when they say do something, to come together and find common ground that will help keep our communities safer, protect our children, and save lives. i look forward to voting yes and moving this bill one step closer to the president's desk for signature. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senior senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, madam president. i want to thank my colleague and friend from texas as well as the team that worked with him,
senators murphy, tillis, sinema, and all of us who worked with them. where he is surely right is that we have shown that democracy works, at least that it can work when people come together seeking common ground and responding to the overwhelming sense of urgency on the american people about solving a problem. and that democracy working stands in stark juxtaposition to the tableau on the other side of the congress, the house commission that is investigating the near overthrow of that democracy. so for all who are doubting and all who may have doubts in the future, we are providing some reassurance that we can get
things done and solve problems. my mind goes back to watching that gallery almost ten years ago in the wake of the newtown tragedy, the unthinkable murder of 20 beautiful children and six brave educators at sandy hook elementary school. and when we fail to -- failed to take action then on a very modest improving the background checks system, we had 55 votes but not enough to reach 60, i will never forget the cry of shame, shame that came from that gallery. i remember the sandy hook families were in that gallery and at least two of them are here today, mark barredden -- barden and nicole hockley. today it's not only those families in the gallery, it is the movement that those families through their immeasurable grief
and unthinkable trauma created in the wake of that unimaginable murder. that movement is here comprised of survivors and first responders, medical professionals, ed indicators -- educators, advocates and so many others. and today when the united states senate passes the bipartisan safer communities act, we won't hear cries of shame. there will be cries of relief finally. i'm proud to have been part of the team that negotiated this measure and to have worked with colleagues on the other side of the aisle like senator cornyn. this is not the measure i fought for. it's not the measure i would have written if i'd been doing it alone, but it marks meaningful progress. if you wait to get everything in the united states senate, chances are you will get
nothing. progress is better than nothing. this measure will save lives. not all the lives that we want to save but it will save lives. and i'll be proud to vote for it today. after 30 years, hundreds of thousands of gun deaths after sandy hook and dozens of failed legislative proposals, we are finally taking this step forward. the sandy hook victims, the parkland victims, the uvalde victims, and so many more deserve so much better and they deserve more. but the bipartisan safer communities act is that significant step forward that responds to the nation's sense of urgency to get something done. one way the legislation will do so that i'm particularly proud of is investing in crisis intervention programs. this bill will increase funding
for these programs, including red flag laws and programs already in place in 21 jurisdictions like connecticut which was the first. these laws keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who are dangerous to themselves or others. it separates those guns from people who say they're going to kill somebody or themselves, more than half of all gun deaths are suicide. red flag laws are practical and proven and they prevent not only suicides but school mass shootings and other violent gun crimes. just last week connecticut probably saved tens of lives by separating an individual who told his therapist that he was having those thoughts again about killing people, and he was separated from a firearm. i've worked on the red flag
issue for years, with senator graham and with senator feinstein, in the bipartisan negotiations that led to this bill we worked collaboratively and closely to develop a funding framework that can support states that already have these laws and states that choose to enact these laws going forward. implementation is so important, and the resources necessary for implementation are key to making them work effectively. in fact, very arguably the failure of the new york red flag law to prevent the buffalo massacre was due to lack of resources, commitment. to alleviate concerns among some of my republican colleagues and some gun owners, we reached a bipartisan agreement to include provisions that specify that for states to be eligible to use funding on their red flag programs, those programs have to
include minimum due process protection. these protections are con consistent with due process safeguards provided in the 21 jurisdictions that already have these laws, and several have already been upheld in the face of constitutional challenges. the constitution already applies to these laws. so the due process guarantees would apply in any event. but we had no problem spelling out that explicit protection in the legislative text is added for reassurance. and in so doing, our bipartisan group agreed that all 21 jurisdictions that already have red flag laws will all qualify for funding under this bill. and so too we agreed that any future jurisdiction that enacts such a law must at least meet the same constitutional due process minimum to be eligible.
i spell out this legislative history because it's important to understand not only the context but also the intention of these provisions. and let no one doubt that the states like connecticut that already have these dawes will -- these laws will receive funding. i'm also pleased that among other measures we've substantially shrunk, even if not eliminated, the boyfriend loophole. we've made straw purchasing and trafficking illegal at the federal level. a measure that i know as a former u.s. attorney, chief federal prosecutor in connecticut is enormously important. and we're investing hundreds of millions of dollars in community violence intervention and in the stop violence -- stop school violence program. meeting just this week and throughout these past years with community groups and educators and others who want to stop mental health issues upstream
before they create violence downstream. i know how enormously important these measures can be, for connecticut and other states. finally, let me say i've come to the senate floor too many times, too many times to count, to call on us to honor with action those incredibly strong, brave families, from sandy hook, from all around the country, who have created this movement that we have now. ity a movement that will go on -- it's a movement that will go on. they're not stopping. neither should we. we need to continue with the same sense of urgency and purpose that movement, toward making america even safer. this bill is a breakthrough that builds foundation for the future. it opens a door. and hopefully it will show colleagues who have perhaps been
reluctant to stand up to the gun lobby in the past and help maintain the vice-like grip of that gun lobby on the congress that their power is done. they have not only waned in their impact, but their intimidation and threats will no longer hold sway here. so we are saving lives. it is a proud moment for the united states senate, and i thank all of my colleagues for supporting this breakthrough measure. thank you, madam president. mr. kaz i did: -- mr. cassidy: madam president, let me say that i am proudly pro-second amendment. i believe in a god given right for law-abiding americans to keep and bear arms. the second amendment has given millions of americans the right to defend their spouse, their family, their children, their home. but if you consider yourself a
supporter of the second amendment, you absolutely want to do something about uvalde, to do something about murders relatinged to domestic violence, to do something about straw purchases, to do something about teen suicide by gun. you cannot be pro-second amendment unless you care deeply about these issues. that's why we have targeted legislation, the safer communities act, that addresses specific problems that have read to -- have led to mass shootings by restricting access for someone who should not have a weapon, but also by providing additional mental health resources and by hardening schools. this legislation accomplishes these goals without infringing upon a law-abiding citizen's second amendment right. and let me repeat that, because there's been confusion in speeches from this floor.
there's been internet exploding. there's rumors afloat that somehow this infringes upon the law-abiding citizen's right to keep and bear arms. that is absolutely false, and if anyone says so they are misleading the american people. madam president, this doesn't do any of that. madam president, what this legislation says, that unless you are adjudicated -- now, adjudicated is a $5 word that means you go before a judge, and the judge looks at the evidence and under this bill, if a state puts this into law, then they've got to to follow due process, which says that the person who may lose their second amendment right has the right to an attorney. a higher standard for the evidence that must be presented. that that person has their day in court. this was the gold standard that
the national rifle association always advocated for, as if we were going to take second amendment rights from someone who should not have them. and this bill has that gold standard. now, i had a couple town halls just to find out what folks back in louisiana were thinking about all this. frankly, they're talking about inflation and the price at the pump as much as they're talking about this. but i got a message. they think that we can protect second amendment rights and do something about a tragedy such as uvalde. but let me give you some of the comments, because it shows you the confusion and it shows you the concerns and it shows you where the american people are. chris asks, when he dies can he pass his gun to his child, if his child is law-abiding? absolutely. that is preserved of we don't
touch that. and by golly, chris should be able to do so. we're asked by tyler if this raises the age of the ability to purchase a weapon from 18 to 21. it does not. it doesn't touch that. although, apparently, tyler had been told that was the case. i was asked by r.j. about keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. i say, man, we got something in there, r.j. that addresses that. i heard from two people who said we should forbid the purchase of so-called assault weapons, and i heard from one guy who said man, i live in a tough section of town. if somebody invades my house i don't want it to be a fair fight. i heard on all sides of these arguments as to what. but the message i got, we can address, we can protect second amendment rights. but still do something about uvalde. now, it's not just uvalde. there's other types of gun violence in our society.
at least four, this bill addresses at least four. there's the domestic violence. there is the suicide by the child. there's the gangster buying a gun to shoot people up. then there's the rampage shooting. let's talk about each of those. when it comes to the domestic violence, a guy beats up his girlfriend, he comes back with a when job and -- weapon and shoots her a month later, that happens too much. i talked to my police chief, murphy paul, in baton rouge, he told me defense violence and domestic murder spiked under the pandemic. this bill does something about it. i asked people who oppose this bill, what about domestic violence, man? what about that woman who's threatened? shouldn't we do something for her safety? this bill does something for her safety and quite likely for her children's safety and quite likely prevents a suicide by the troubled man who goes there in the first place. let's talk about crime,
gapingsters -- gangsters, straw purchases, boyfriend's got a felony, can't buy a weapon, the girlfriend buys one, slips it to him. it's against the law now, but strengthens all the time. r.j., if you're watching on c-span, man, i'm channeling you, because we took the provision r.j. said we should do, and we increased the penalties for that person who buys a weapon merely to pass it to another. to hopefully throw her in prison for as much as ten years if she contributes to a murder by buying a gun for someone who goes out and commits that murder. we talk about rampage shooting. it's much more common -- you know what's much more common? the teenager shooting himself. we stop that. no, they can still steal a weapon if they want to, but there is $12 billion in some form or another for mental health services. we do our best to reach that
child. by the way, rampage shooting is the worst, then comes suicide, then comes the addiction. i'm a doctor. i've seen this stuff. after the addiction, just becomes the person who is emotionally troubled. we're putting in mental health services that can address it all, with money for a 988 line, so if somebody is just like my gosh, i'm desperate, they have somebody to call. personally, i'd like to have an app. i'd like to have -- i'm a troubled teenager app, i need somebody to talk to. they're doing this in utah, and they tell me that the investment has been tremendous. i think they told me they prevent a suicide a week. that's off the top of my head. call it a suicide every two weeks. that's a powerful intervention. this bill has that capability. lastly, there is the information regarding the rampage shooting, uvalde.
somebody told me, i searched on the internet, i didn't see this guy was troubled. that's precisely the point. this man's troubled, but he's less than 18. those records are seefeld. you can't get -- are sealed. you can't get to them. even though every indication was this young, troubled man would have had a reason not to be able to purchase a weapon, it's sealed. he turns 18, he's a clean guy. he goes out and buys two assault weapons and starts planning his assault. if you're pro-second amendment, by golly, you was the to stop that -- you want to stop that. what this bill does is allows the court to look into that and say oh, he's clean, that's okay, or no, he's troubled, and we need a little extra time to look at this. by the way, that's a provision that has been distorted and twisted to imply that law-abiding 18-year-olds to 21-year-olds would not be able to purchase a weapon. if you're a law-abiding, you can still purchase that weapon if
you're 18, but if not, or if there's another indication, then the background check has a chance to look at it. and if you're pro-second amendment, by golly, i'll say it one more time, you should applaud that provision. now, let's do a couple other things. you know right now, a mexican cartel can smuggle weapons to mexico to shoot people up? we make that illegal. you would think it already would be, but it's not. how can somebody be against that? criminalizing cartels from smuggling weapons to mexico. somehow, we're infringing upon second amendment rides of the cartels? my gosh, i wish we'd do worst to them. we increase penalties for illegal gun traffickers, criminal gun increases. we are doing something about criminals. but have i said it yet? we preserve the second amendment rights for the law-abiding. now, i'm a gastroenterologist, i
wouldn't know anything about due process sess except as a term, but speaking to john cornyn who's done a great job, and the other attorneys, i've learned a bill -- a little about due process, madam president. when somebody calls me up, they said they heard it on the internet, i say why don't you read the bill? it's 80 pages. read the bill, on page 33 you're going to read about due process. it says that any state red flag law -- we don't encourage those red flag laws, but if a stays decides to do one and wants federal dollars, they have to obey the rules. the rules say it must include at a minimum due process rights that prevent any violation or infringement on the constitution of the united states. if you're pro-second amendment, you should like that. a state can have a red flag law right now and not have that in there. but under this bill, by golly, they had better.
how can anyone object to that? the bill also ensures no state can sidestep due process. it strengthens the citizen's right to due process. it can't be a social worker, it has to be before a judge and it has to have evidence and the person losing their right or may be losing their right has the ability to have an attorney with them it now, no offense to my people on the other side of the aisle, but if a liberal state puts forth a law that has poor due process, they won't get federal dollars. and a that should be something -- and that should be something we are proud about. now, my state doesn't have a red flag law. this bill does not require, mandate or incentivize that louisiana develop a red flag law, but you know my state does
get money? for drug courts, for enforcing restraint orders so the fellow who's not supposed to go near his wife because they're afraid they'll beat her up again, the police have more resources to prevent that. who can be against that? that's in this bill. by the way, our legislation also hardens schools. there's money for the stop school violent school safety program, including resource officers and school hardening, additional funding for mental health resources, mentoring, crisis intervention, high-quality training for school personnel on suicide prevention and human trafficking. how can someone be against that? this is a solution. by the way, we have a serious problem in mental health. in my career i have been privileged to work with senator murphy and others on solutions for mental health.
there's increased dollars for medicaid, including telehealth services for schools that might be in a rural area worewise without -- otherwise without a mental health professional around, school-based mental health services, all expanded, it reauthorizes the pediatric mental health care access program. it gives pediatric providers extra training in mental health, and i could go on. now, there's still a lot of misinformation out there. but i would say if you don't know what's in the bill, it's online, pick it up and read it. but if you're pro-second amendment, you should be for this bill. we can protect second-amendment rights, we can make an impact on teen suicide, upon domestic abuse, upon straw purchases landing guns in the hands of
criminals and rampage shooting and we can do that while protecting the second amendment. that's what i'm hearing from the mental, that's what this bill does, and with that, madam president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the junior senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: madam president, four weeks ago i was sitting where you were sitting, presiding over the senate on a quiet tuesday afternoon when news broke that 19 children, all the same age as my youngest son, had been gunned down in their texas elementary school. and as i scrolled through the early reports of the carnage,
all i could think of was these two simple questions. what are we doing? why are we here? i sat up there obsessing over our willful decision as a body to ignore the slaughter that has become to regular that the news only seems to pay attention now when over a dozen die, our collective decision year after year to do nothing. what's point of this job that we fought so hard to get? if we just decide that saving children's lives is too hard or involves too inconvenient amount of political risk? shooting after shooting, murder after murder, suicide after suicide for 30 years congress stood in its political corners and did nothing. but not this time. within two days of the uvalde
massacre, senator cornyn, senator tillis, senator sinema, and i, joined by other members of this body, had started talking, not about our disagreements. we have plenty of those. but instead about what could be possible if we sat together and refused to give up until we figured out the set of things that we could agree on, what could get 60 votes to save lives. i am so grateful in the bottom of my soul to john, to tom, and to kyrsten, and the other senators taking part in these talings. i'm grateful to senator schumer
and senator mcconnell for empowering these discussions and allowing us to have this debate this week. i'm equally proud of my team, allison and semir and emily and pete who worked 40 days straight to get this bill done. but mostly i'm proud of the regular people all across this country, many of whom were forced to become advocates after this epidemic took from them a son or a daughter, a mother or a father. those citizens, many of which are watching this debate right now who protested or wrote letters or showed up at town halls, roadblock after roadblock, refusing to give up because the stakes of their children's safety was so high they couldn't afford to give up. that's who i'm really proud of today. people who would not take no for an answer and knew the
righteousness of their cause had to eventually prevail. this bill is a compromise. it doesn't do everything i want. but what we are doing will save thousands of lives without violating anyone's second second-amendment rights through more effective red flag laws by keeping guns away from domestic abusers, by being more careful about giving weapons to 18-year-olds, by getting more people access to treatment for their mental illness. this will become the most significant piece of antigun violence legislation congress has passed in three decades. and as a result, this bill also has the chance to prove to a weary american public that democracy is not so broken that it is unable to rise to the moment when the need for action, like right now in the wake of uvalde and buffalo, is most
acute. what are we doing? why are we here? we're answering those questions today, not fully, but with enough force that anxious moms and dads and kids all across this nation who wake up tomorrow, can be a little bit more confident the adults who run this country actually care about their safety. because you know what, people still believe in us. people still count on us. two months after his son was gunned down by a 19-year-old with an assault rifle in sandy hook, one of the dads came to congress and gave this testimony. before he died, neil heslen, told congress, my son jesse and i used to talk about maybe coming to washington some day.
he wanted to go up to the washington monument. when we talked about it last year, jesse asked if he could meet the president. i can be cynical about politicians, but jesse, he believed in you. he learned about you in school and he believed in you. i want to believe in you too. i know you can't give me jesse back, believe me, if i thought you could, i'd be asking you for that, but i want to believe that you will think about what happened to my son and what i've seen. i want to believe that you will think about it and then you will do something about it. what are we doing? what are we here for if not to do something, something meaningful, something real, something together to end this carnage? jesse believed in us, and today more so than at any time since i
came to congress 16 years ago, i believe in us too. i yield the floor. mr. schumer: madam president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. schumer: first, let me thank senator murphy for his amazing work and that powerful speech. he did a great, great job, as did many others. now, tonight, madam president, the united states senate is doing something many believed was impossible even a few weeks ago. we are passing the first significant gun safety bill in nearly 30 years. the gun is the safety -- gun safety is bipartisan, has common sense and is lifesaving, as in the braidy bill -- brady bill, the last legislative effort to fight gun violence in congress,
i'm pleased this moment has come and we are taking meaningful action to keep our communities safe. i hope it paves the way for future action on guns in congress and at all levels of government. as i said, this is not a cure all for all the ways gun violence affects our nation, but it is a long overdue step in the right direction. passing this gun safety bill is truly significant and it is going to save lives. it was so, so significant that we let the process work instead of having just one vote that would divide us and not accomplish anything, and i hope that portends doing it again on guns and on other issues as well. i want to thank my colleagues for their incredible work. this is a great moment here on a very difficult issue. i want to thank senators murphy and sinema, senators cornyn and
tillis who showed amazing courage and all senators on both sides of the aisle to break this american logjam. the american people have waited long enough. let's finally take action to pass this lifesaving gun safety bill. now, madam president, i withdraw amendment numbered 50100. the presiding officer: the senator has that right. the amendment is withdrawn. mr. schumer: i know of no further debate on a motion to concur with an amendment. the presiding officer: if in is no further debate, the question is on the motion to concur on the house amendment 3958 with amendment numbered 5099. the yeas and nays were previously ordered and the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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