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Mayor Pureval attends White House celebration of Safer Communities Act

It's the first major federal gun safety law in almost 26 years
Aftab Pureval
Posted at 11:22 PM, Jul 10, 2022

CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval and several other local activists were among the crowd at the White House Monday to celebrate the Safer Communities Act with President Biden. It's the biggest gun violence prevention legislation to pass in decades.

The bill, passed after recent gun rampages in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, incrementally toughens requirements for young people buying guns, denies firearms to more domestic abusers and helps local authorities temporarily take weapons from people judged to be dangerous.

Biden hosted hundreds of guests on the South Lawn, including local faces like Pureval, Mitch Morris with Cincinnati Works Phoenix Program, Xavier student Ethan Nichols and other local leaders.

"I think it acknowledges that there's a lot of work being done in Cincinnati and across the state and our organizers here are ready for change and we're going to be a center," said Nichols, who founded Students for Gun Legislation.

The legislation will include the following:

  • Funds for states to implement red flag laws
  • Family mental health spending
  • Getting rid of the so-called “boyfriend loophole” by including those convicted of domestic abuse in background checks
  • Funding for school-based mental health programs
  • Funding for school safety resources
  • Clarifying the language of a federally licensed firearm dealer
  • Investments in telehealth programs
  • Implementing a waiting period on gun purchases for those under age 21
  • Penalties for straw purchases of firearms

Most of the new law's $13 billion in spending would be used for bolstering mental health programs and for schools, which have been targeted by shooters in Newtown, Connecticut, and Parkland. The law was the product of weeks of closed-door negotiations by a bipartisan group of senators who emerged with a compromise.

It does not include far tougher restrictions that Democrats and Biden have long championed, such as a ban on assault-type weapons and background checks for all gun transactions. Prospects are slim for any further congressional action this year.

Gun violence is an issue community leaders are working toward tackling locally.

"We're out here allowing the kids to have fun,” said Tonya Sanderson, a pastor and community activist, during a block party to curb violence held Sunday in the West End. “Letting them know everyday don't have to be a day where you have to duck, hide or be scared.”

Sanderson partnered with a community outreach initiative called Standing Together Offers Possibilities.

The West End has the fourth most homicides of Cincinnati neighborhoods, with at least 20 since 2018.

"I stand against gun violence,” Sanderson said. “We're looking for change and prevention and help.”

Mayor Pureval also spoke about gun violence concerns Sunday ahead of his trip to the White House.

"Of course reducing violence across the board has to be our top priority," he said.

The mayor will meet with national public safety leaders and policy makers to discuss what the city is doing to curb gun violence. The meeting is happening Monday and will also be a day to celebrate the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

"It enhances background checks for buyers under 21. It supports states red flag laws disarm domestic abusers, and it also cracks down on gun trafficking,” Pureval said about the act.

It's the first major federal gun safety law in almost 26 years.

"What we need help with on the local level is the the issue that there is almost universal accessibility of guns on our streets,” he said. “We need help from the federal government and from the states, to crack down on gun trafficking and make it frankly harder to get access to guns in our communities.”

The city has invested in new measures to curb violence, including community programs for the youth and larger police presence on the streets.

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