WASHINGTON D.C. (BRPROUD) – A Louisiana senator is putting himself in the room where major bipartisan gun reform legislation is being debated. Senator Bill Cassidy explained the deal he has helped make and what he calls “common sense” gun reform in the wake of the Texas school shooting.
Twenty U.S. Senators, split evenly down party lines, came to an agreement that focuses on mental health services, red flag laws, and enhanced protections for victims of domestic violence.
One aspect of the bill is increased funding for mental health counseling in schools and intervention services. While mental health is a small percentage of why mass shootings happen, Sen. Cassidy hopes it can help curb a wide range of issues.
“So as we work on mental health, we hope to prevent these terrible tragedies which only occasionally occur but are so awful. But also, look at all the other things that affect our young people,” Sen. Cassidy said.
The bill would provide grants to states to pass red flag law legislation – which would be a long shot in Louisiana. Only 19 states have enacted their own red flag laws. Sen. Cassidy said those who apply for the funding would have to ensure due process is upheld. He is in not in favor of a federal red flag mandate. These laws give notice to firearm sellers if there is any concern of past records that someone could be a danger to themselves or others and could hold up the purchasing of a gun.
“All the agreement will ensure that if a state chooses to have a red flag law and it’s up to the state, the state has to preserve due process to determine that the individual is a threat to themselves and others,” Sen. Cassidy said.
In the Capital City, police have said there is a major rise in domestic violence involving firearms. The gun reform bill has funding to help aid law enforcement in enforcing restraining orders. Getting an order can be a lengthy and difficult process.
“Imagine a locality or police force, law enforcement, which did not have adequate resources to enforce a restraining order. This legislation gives dollars to those agencies to help them enforce those restraining orders,” Sen. Cassidy said.
Cassidy said the legislation will help the state pass laws to help victims, but it is ultimately up to state legislatures to make the change.
This bill also will have language to allow some juvenile records to be released during a check for a young buyer.
“If a troubled 18-year-old who, if one adult would have things on his record that would prevent him from passing a background check,” Sen. Cassidy said. “But because these acts were committed before 18 and at age 18, the records are locked away or expunged. Then on the 18th birthday, is able to pass a background check.”
The full price tag for the bill has not yet been released. There is a push to get the bill passed before the July recess despite outcry from both sides of the aisle saying the legislation goes too far or not far enough.