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Gun Control Advocates Celebrate Year Since Federal Firearms Law

Gun violence survivors, activists and elected officials are gathering in Connecticut on Friday to mark nearly one year since Congress passed the most significant gun safety package in three decades. President Biden was d to speak at the summit at the University of Hartford.

The gathering was organized by proponents of the deal, including gun safety advocacy groups Giffords and Everytown for Gun Safety and U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.

The event comes as the U.S. may be seeing a year-over-year decline in murders nationwide. At the same time, mass shootings appear to be accelerating.

The landmark deal — the culmination of decades of gun safety advocacy work — focuses on keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous people and investing in school safety and mental health resources.

It included $750 million to incentivize states to create "red flag laws," closed the "boyfriend loophole" by adding convicted domestic violence abusers in dating relationships to the criminal background check system, clarified the definition of a "federally licensed firearm dealer," made it a federal crime to traffic in firearms, stiffened penalties for "straw purchases" made on behalf of people who aren’t allowed to own guns and enhanced background checks for buyers under 21.

The law also authorized potentially billions in funding for schools and mental health services. That includes $150 million for a national 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, $250 million for states and territories to enhance community mental health services, $500 million to increase school-based mental health providers and $500 million to train school counselors, social workers and psychologists. It set aside $250 million in funding for community-based violence prevention initiatives.

Proponents of gun safety didn't get everything they wanted, such as a federal red flag law and reinstating the ban on "assault weapons."

At least 31 people have been charged in 17 cases under new federal straw purchasing and trafficking criminal offenses. Denials stemming from enhanced backgrounds checks for people under 21 blocked more than 130 firearm purchases between November and April.

In September, the Justice Department awarded an initial $100 million to community violence prevention and intervention programs that focus on addressing gun violence. The first batch of 47 grants went to community-based nonprofits and city-led collaboratives across the country.

According to Jeff Asher of AH Datalytics, murder totals have declined about 12% so far this year, but the murder rate remains the highest since the 90s. Asher, who has been tracking murder trends since 2015, based his analysis on police department data from nearly 100 U.S. cities.

Another analysis suggests the U.S. is seeing a decline in homicides and gun assault as robberies, property crimes, motor vehicle thefts and carjackings trend upward. The report from the think tank Council on Criminal Justice tracked data from dozens of U.S. cities in 2022.


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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