It’s not often that you have the chance to attend a national summit on gun-violence prevention (GVP) with the President also in attendance.

Of course, it’s a sad commentary that we need a national summit on GVP in the first place. But if we do, it’s heartening to those of us in this never-ending struggle that the Chief Executive made time for a personal appearance.

I flew to Connecticut for the National Safer Communities Summit in West Hartford, commemorating the first anniversary of the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA).

Accomplishments of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, one year on

Activists and legislators from across the country and keynote speaker President Biden emphasized that the gun-violence prevention movement is not only gaining momentum but is on course to restore a sensible balance between the rights of responsible gun owners and the rights of the public to be safe.

The Summit, hosted by Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), highlighted the one-year accomplishments of the BSCA. After three decades of federal inaction on gun-safety bills, the Act, passed in the wake of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, in June 2022, has been saving lives. Senator Murphy pointed to a 10% decrease in the murder rate in many cities across the country.

Rep. Lucy McBath (GA), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT), Sen. Chris Murphy (CT), John Feinblatt (Pres., Everytown for Gun Safety)

Encouraged by the financial carrot ($750 million) to establish and implement Extreme Risk Protection Orders (also known as red-flag laws), twenty-one states now have laws that allow guns to be temporarily removed from persons at risk of violence to themselves or others. That number is up from nineteen states in 2021.

Domestic violence survivor Ruth Glenn applauded the expansion of protections for victims of domestic violence.  The BSCA now prohibits firearm ownership of abusers in dating relationships, not just those in domestic partnerships.

New Jersey Attorney General Mathew Platkin explained how the enhanced review process for gun purchasers under 21 has led to a 20% increase in denials, weeding out young men with histories of violence.  Mayor of Kansas City Quinton Lucas praised the fact that straw purchasing and gun trafficking is now a federal crime.

“What?!” you exclaim. “You mean it wasn’t a federal crime to traffic guns into high crime areas before?”

No. It wasn’t.

Now it is.

That’s the kind of evolution toward common sense for which you can thank the BSCA.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona praised the funding that is coming to schools for mental health services.  Students are suffering from depression and anger; they are fearful of being shot as they walk to school, while they are in school and as they are traumatized by active-shooter drills and real lockdowns.

Representative Lucy McBath (D-GA 6) pointed to the $250 million in funding for violence interruption programs (VIP) that “get to the root of the problem.”

Former Congresswoman (and gun-violence survivor) Gabby Giffords attended. Her organization has posted a link to the entire National Safer Communities Summit.

All of that and President Biden, too

President Biden praised the efforts of lawmakers and ordinary citizens who helped bring about BSCA last year. He also sounded a call for a ban on assault weapons at the federal level.

“We will ban assault weapons in this country,” he said. “It won’t be easy. . . Look what you’ve already done in Connecticut and around the country. . . We can get this done.”

It was genuinely reassuring to be in the same room with a president who is in our corner when it comes to ending gun violence.

“Every damn’ day in America,” said President Biden. “A lot of you are tired. I get it. . . We will never yield on this issue.”

Nobody in the audience seemed troubled at hearing the President say “damn.”

It shows he’s as sick of daily gun violence as the other 330 million of us are.

Carol Landale is vice president of SD4GVP.

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