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Wednesday, November 29th, 2023

Sen. Murphy requests details on DOJ, ATF implementation of Bipartisan Safer Communities Act provisions

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Following up on the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act back in June, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) this week wrote the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) requesting updates on how the law had been implemented.

That legislation had laid out funds for numerous efforts to reduce school violence, including $750 million for the creation and administration of laws to keep deadly weapons out of those deemed dangerous by a court, $250 million for community-based violence prevention initiatives, $250 million to expand state and territorial mental health services, along with billions for school learning, mental health, safety and out of school programs, among other items. It also updated legal definitions to crack down on those who evade licensing requirements for firearms, domestic violence abusers, and the review process for buyers under 21 years old seeking firearms.

“Since the BSCA’s passage, the country has experienced an alarmingly high number of shootings, many of which have gripped the public’s consciousness,” Murphy wrote. “As I have noted, the BSCA contains several commonsense reforms which could have prevented some of these acts of violence had Congress acted sooner. Now that the BSCA is law, we cannot afford to waste any time implementing the law’s life-saving provisions.”

From the DOJ and Attorney General Merrick Garland, Murphy sought updates on the distribution of funds for the Extreme Risk Protection Order programs and community violence intervention initiatives, the crackdown on firearm allowances for convicted domestic abusers, and communication with federal firearms licensees. He also sought to confirm that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is now, as required under law, processing background checks for firearm buyers younger than 21.

Garland also requested information regarding domestic abusers from the ATF while inquiring about their efforts to collaborate with arms licensees to halt purchasers engaged in gun trafficking, ensure proper registration for Federal Firearms Licenses, and speed up a variety of checks and enforcement efforts. These include hastened background checks, efforts to retrieve mistakenly sold firearms, enforcement of ghost gun regulations, developments for the agency’s data analytics, and more.

“It is no secret that the survivors, families, and advocates who built the gun violence prevention movement have been eagerly awaiting a confirmed Director to lead ATF,” Murphy said to ATF Director Steven Dettelbach. “That your confirmation coincided with the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act demonstrates that ordinary people across the country will no longer tolerate the status quo of daily gun violence, mass shootings, and suicides, fueled by weak firearm regulation and lax enforcement. Congress and the President have given the Bureau substantial authority and responsibility to prevent more violence, keep guns out of the wrong hands, and hold criminals accountable to the law.”