Senator Bill Cassidy on gun safety bill: Makes America safer; protects 2nd Amendment rights
Editor's note: The following commentary was submitted by Republican Louisiana U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy.
I am unapologetically pro-Second Amendment. I believe in the God-given right for a law-abiding American to keep and bear arms.
Because I am pro-Second Amendment, I know that we have to do something about rampage shootings as in Uvalde, Texas, murders from domestic violence, criminals using weapons and young people shooting themselves and dying by suicide. And whatever we do has to work.
Infringing on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens will not stop school shootings.
That is why when Congress decided to respond to the Uvalde shooting, I joined the negotiations to make sure that as we addressed gun violence, we strengthened due process protections for law-abiding Americans, protected Second Amendment rights and addressed issues fueling rampage shootings, teen suicide, crime and domestic murders.
The bipartisan Safer Communities Act is the real solution Americans have been calling for.
Groups including the National Sheriffs Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the American Psychiatric Association and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have all endorsed the bill.
Among the reasons they endorse it is the bill commits nearly $12 billion to expand access to mental health treatment. Improved mental health resources help the troubled young person who may be a risk of becoming a mass shooter. It also addresses the far too common instances of youth suicide, addiction and other mental health issues.
This funding increases access to mental health and crisis intervention services. It also supports tele-mental health and comprehensive mental health services in schools and communities.
There is $1 billion in resources to strengthen security at schools to prevent school shootings before they happen. And despite the price tag, this bill is fully paid for.
Law-abiding citizens agree criminals should not have guns. And strengthening and enforcing our laws to prevent criminals from obtaining a firearm is not an attack on the Second Amendment — it protects it.
Six of the nine deadliest mass shootings in the U.S. since 2018 were by people who were 21 or younger, many of whom suffered from mental illness like the Buffalo, N.Y., and Uvalde shooters.
Currently, if a person commits acts that would disqualify them from obtaining a firearm before they were 18, the evidence for that might disappear when they turned 18. Under this bill, there are enhanced background checks for adult buyers under the age of 21 to look for disqualifying juvenile and mental adjudication records, including checks with state databases and local law enforcement.
Additionally, the bill ensures convicted domestic violence abusers cannot illegally own a firearm. It increases penalties for someone who buys a weapon and gives the gun to a felon who cannot legally buy a weapon, in what is called a straw purchase. It also criminalizes smuggling guns to other countries to give to criminal and criminal organizations like the Mexican cartels.
We can stop criminals without impacting law-abiding citizens. That’s what this bill does.
Unless someone is ruled by a judge as mentally incompetent, a danger to himself or others, a felon, or guilty of domestic violence their Second Amendment rights will not be touched.
Despite what some claim on the internet, this bill does not impose a national red flag law. I would strongly oppose that. Louisiana does not have a red flag law, and we should not be forced to implement one. If a state decides to pass such a law, the bill forces it to comply with strict and comprehensive due process requirements to receive federal assistance.
Specifically, on page 33 of the bill text, it says any state red flag law “must include, at a minimum… due process rights that prevent any violation or infringement of the Constitution of the United States.” This is more protection for due process than existed before. We made sure no state can sidestep the Constitution.
Also, any state that does not want to create such a law, like Louisiana, can use its funding to implement or improve other programs like mental health courts and drug courts.
I joined the negotiations to do three things: protect law-abiding Americans’ Second Amendment rights; preserve due process; and pass something which could prevent the next Uvalde. We accomplished all three.
If you are for the Second Amendment, you should be for this bill.