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US Сongress passes major bipartisan gun control law

The US House has passed a package of gun control measures, including stepped-up background check requirements for younger buyers and funding for mental health programs, on Friday. Already passed by the Senate on Thursday, the legislation heads to President Joe Biden’s desk, where it is expected to be signed.

Biden described the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, as “one of the most significant steps Congress has taken to reduce gun violence in decades” in a statement released on Thursday.

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Under the new law, individuals 16 years or older attempting to purchase a gun must undergo a review of their juvenile mental health records. It also closes the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” barring anyone convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor as part of a dating relationship from purchasing or owning a firearm for at least five years.

The legislation also provides funding for “extreme risk protection order programs” and other crisis intervention measures, supplying $250 million in community violence intervention and prevention initiatives and $100 million to beef up the National Criminal Instant Background Check System. This includes so-called “red flag” laws permitting authorities to confiscate guns from people deemed a threat to themselves or others.

Additionally, the bill expands community behavioral health clinics and telehealth services, in particular mental health services in schools, supplying $250 million for Community Mental Health Services block grants. The grants help train primary care providers and school and childcare professionals in mental health care as well as providing treatment for individuals who have experienced trauma. A $1 billion grant is aimed at funding “after-school, before-school and summer programs,” with $300 million going toward training students and teachers in “how to prevent and respond to violence against themselves and others.”

Democratic lawmakers have clamored for stricter gun control laws in recent weeks following a string of widely-publicized shootings, including the slaying of 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

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