U.S. Representative Mike Thompson used a visit to Vallejo on Wednesday to tout the success of tougher gun laws in making communities safer.
Williams joined Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams et. medical professionals from Touro University to discuss law enforcement regarding gun violence prevention, phantom guns, and how to keep the community safe.
“We see ghost guns everywhere,” Thompson said. “Police pick them up left and right and constantly find them in cars.”
Thompson, chair of the Task Force on Preventing Gun Violence in the Home, voted to pass the bipartisan Safer Communities Act in June. The Senate passed the legislation by a vote of 65 to 33, with 15 Republicans joining the 50 Democrats. The bill passed the House by a vote of 234 to 193.
Thompson said the Safer Community Act “finally closed the boyfriend loophole” with gun violence. For years, federal law has prohibited people convicted of domestic violence from buying a gun, but only if they live with their partner, are married to their partner, or have a child with their partner. The law does not apply to romantic partners.
Under the new legislation, the definition has been broadened so that people in “serious romantic relationships” who are convicted of domestic violence would also be barred from buying a gun.
“We’ve been pushing back the loophole for years,” Thompson said. “So for this to pass, I finally came across a lot for a lot.”
Thompson highlighted what he called the benefits of the Safer Community Act:
- Support for State Crisis Intervention Orders: Creates $750 million for states to create and enforce laws that will ensure deadly weapons do not fall into the hands of court-determined individuals.
- Penalties for Purchasing Straw: Creates federal criminal offenses for purchasing straw and gun trafficking, allowing prosecutors to target dangerous illegal gun traffickers.
- Clarified Definition of Federally Licensed Gun Dealer: Cracks down on criminals who illegally evade licensing requirements and clarifies sellers who must register, conduct background checks and maintain proper records.
- Enhanced Background Checks for Under-21s: Requires an investigation period to review youth and mental health records, including checks with state and local law enforcement databases, to buyers under 21, creating an improved and longer background check of up to ten days.
- Community-Based Violence Prevention Initiatives: Provides $250 million in funding for community-based violence prevention initiatives.
- Investments in child and family mental health services
The bill also invests in programs to expand mental health and support services in schools, including early identification and intervention programs, school-based mental health and support services, improving school-wide learning conditions and school safety.
Thompson said Touro was involved on Wednesday because the issue is a mental health issue.
“There are so many people who come to me and tell me that gun violence contributes to mental health issues and that they are afraid that their children’s school will be the next to be affected by gun violence” , Thompson said.
When Thompson constantly sees reports of school shootings, he says he feels terrible.
“Well, that’s heartbreaking for anyone with a conscience,” Thompson said. “A friend of mine saw her daughter killed in the shooting in Thousand Oaks at the Borderline Bar and Grill. She was a lovely young woman going to Pepperdine University with a bright future. After the Uvalde massacre, this friend called me and said if anyone from Uvalde wanted to talk and needed advice call him but that’s not all his son, who is about 13 years old, overheard the conversation and shortly after called me back and said he would also help with advice for anyone and that just shouldn’t happen.