This past June, Congressional Democrats and Republicans came together for the first time in decades to pass joint gun legislation: the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The law comes after more than 30 years of political gridlock, representing the realization of a quest to find common ground in the face of a polarizing national crisis. It holds few broad legislative points on firearms themselves, with no bans or broad restrictions. Instead, it seeks targeted methods of violence prevention in the only nation with more civilian-owned guns than people.
The BSCA is, at its heart, two-pronged. At one end, it offers support to diverse at-risk communities through school counselors and social workers, violence prevention organizations and other localized supports. On the other, it seeks laser-focused “commonsense” restrictions on gun purchases, whether that means closing the “boyfriend loophole,” which limited domestic violence charges to spouses and long-term partners, or increasing firearm distributor liability for acts of violence committed with those firearms. The hope is to stop the “bad guy with a gun” before we ever need to call on the “good guy with the gun.”
Parts of the legislation are linked with bills proposed by Delaware’s own Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.). The final draft of the BSCA contains billions in funding for antiviolence programs, including a new public health–focused grant program, based on a bipartisan bill co-led by Blunt Rochester. The bill also includes funding for mental health services, including her bipartisan bill, the TIKES Act, which seeks to improve and increase access to telehealth services for those with Medicaid and CHIP.
Blunt Rochester called the law “historic, meaningful and, most importantly, very real progress,” while admitting that it was not as all-encompassing as she had hoped. “This law will help us save lives and curb gun violence in America.”
Just days later, Delaware signed into law the Keshall “KeKe” Anderson Safe Firearm Sales Act. KeKe’s law will be the first in the nation to strip immunity from gun sellers, opening them up to liability for illegal or negligent firearm sales if they result in tragedy.