U.S. Representative Martha McSally today introduced legislation that would help prevent mentally ill individuals from obtaining firearms, while expanding funding for the identification and treatment of mental illness. The bipartisan bill is endorsed by a wide range of groups including the National Rifle Association, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the National Association of Police Organizations.
"Preventing gun violence in our communities is something we all want, but too often, Democrats and Republicans end up just talking past each other. This bill has bipartisan support and puts forward solutions that can actually make a difference," said Congresswoman McSally. "It helps prevent mentally ill individuals from obtaining firearms by providing incentives to strengthen our background check system while empowering communities to better treat and identify mental illness. If we want results, we'll have to work together on areas of common ground, and this bill is a great example of that."
"I commend Martha for her efforts to help prevent instances of gun violence," said Sallie Badger, wife of the late Bill Badger, who helped stop the January 8th shooter in Tucson. "Bill was about bringing both sides together and showing that this is an issue we can be united on, and I'm glad to see Martha carrying on his work in that spirit."
"This Congress owes the American people a solution to gun violence. The Mental Health and Safe Communities Act is a bipartisan, no nonsense approach to fix previous failures in our system," said Congressman Brad Ashford (D-NE), who co-introduced the bill. "With this bill, we will empower our mental health care professionals with tools to better identify and respond to mental health crises to prevent violence and improve the collaboration with all levels of law enforcement. I applaud Congresswoman McSally for her leadership and I call upon my colleagues to support this common sense approach. The stakes are too high to retreat to partisan positions and talking points. We must work together to prevent gun violence."
"We must ensure families, communities, and law enforcement across the country have the resources and training necessary to help mentally-ill individuals get the care they need so that they do not become a danger to themselves or others," said Senator John Cornyn, who introduced a companion bill in the Senate. "I look forward to working with Rep. McSally to make a real difference in the lives of millions of Americans who are affected by mental illness."
"Community Partners Inc. supports provisions of this bill that expand access to specialized mental health treatment," said Edward Gentile, Chief Medical Officer at Community Partners, Inc. "The evidence-based strategies in this bill, such as Assertive Community Treatment and Crisis Intervention Teams, along with prevention and early intervention, are important steps in assisting individuals who most need treatment and in strengthening the entire community."
"I applaud any efforts that will both improve public safety and promote rapid and effective intervention to those who need and can benefit from help," said Dan Ranier, President & CEO at La Frontera, Inc. "I also support anything that can provide those in the helping professions and law enforcement greater clarity and direction in these efforts."
The Mental Health and Safe Communities Act strengthens federal programs related to mental health in the criminal justice system by: improving the background check system; enhancing the ability of families and communities to identify mental illness; improving treatment for mental illness; and strengthening responses to mental health crises.
The bill has bipartisan support in the House and has been endorsed by mental health, law enforcement, and Second Amendment advocates, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Treatment Advocacy Center, National Rifle Association, National Association of Police Organizations, American Jail Association, American Correctional Association, and Council of State Governments Justice Center, and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, National Association of Social Workers, National Sheriffs' Association.