WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) joined Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Tim Scott (R-SC) today to introduce the Restoring, Enhancing, Strengthening, and Promoting Our Nation’s Safety Efforts (RESPONSE) Act. The legislation contains provisions to reduce mass violence and make communities safer.
“The mass shootings that have taken place across our country are heartbreaking,” said Sen. McSally. “We can and should do more to prevent these awful tragedies. The RESPONSE Act would give law enforcement additional resources to identify potentially dangerous people, improve access to mental health treatment for those who need it, and make our schools safer.”
“I spent time with families and victims in El Paso and Midland-Odessa following those tragedies and pledged to work with my Senate colleagues on real solutions,” said Sen. Cornyn. “Congress passed my Fix NICS Act after the shooting in Sutherland Springs, but more needs to be done. I urge my colleagues to come together once again to pass the RESPONSE Act to help prevent mass shootings and put a stop to this senseless loss of life.”
“We must do everything we can to ensure the safety of North Carolinians and help prevent mass violence,” said Sen. Tillis. “We cannot leave anything to chance. The RESPONSE Act provides proactive solutions to provide better access to mental health care treatment, provide more tools and resources for our schools, and improve the information law enforcement has to stop acts of imminent violence.”
“We need to find solutions to the violence we’ve seen across the county, and we can do that while protecting our constitutional rights. This bill takes a step in the right direction towards making sure our schools are safe and well-equipped; our law enforcement has the necessary tools and information to stop these actions; and, our families, friends, and neighbors have access to mental and behavioral health treatment,” said Sen. Ernst.
“The RESPONSE Act is full of proactive, commonsense measures that will empower law enforcement and schools to better prevent mass shootings,” Sen. Capito said. “At the same time, by expanding resources for mental health, we’re working to address the root of this problem and supporting at-risk individuals as they get the help they need.”
“South Carolina knows all too well the heartache and pain of mass shootings,” said Sen. Scott. “Passing the RESPONSE Act would be another responsible step towards preventing mass shootings, giving new tools to law enforcement officers, and expanding mental health treatment.”
The RESPONSE Act is endorsed by the National Council for Behavioral Health, National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National District Attorneys Association, Treatment Advocacy Center, Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of Police Organizations, National Sheriffs Association, and Major Cities Chiefs. It would help prevent future attacks by:
Giving New Tools to Law Enforcement
· Encouraging Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to Better Collaborate with Law Enforcement to Prevent Mass Shootings —Clarifies that internet service providers and online platforms have the authority to share information with law enforcement concerning acts of mass violence, hate crimes, or domestic terrorism.
· Prosecuting Illegal Unlicensed Firearms Dealers—Creates nationwide federal, state, and local law enforcement task forces (modeled on Project Exile) to investigate and prosecute criminals who are violating current law by engaging in the business of selling firearms without a license or who provide false statements as part of a background check. Provides grant funding and reimbursement to state and local law enforcement who participate in these task forces.
· Expediting the Death Penalty for Terrorist Mass Violence—Expedites administration of state death penalties for individuals who commit mass murder as part of a crime of international or domestic terrorism by limiting the scope of federal appeals.
Expanding Resources for Mental Health Treatment
· Increasing Access to Mental Health Treatment and Crisis Intervention Teams —Requires HHS to develop and disseminate guidance for states to fund mental health programs and crisis intervention teams under the Medicaid Program.
· Expanding Assisted Outpatient Treatment—Expands the ability of states to receive federal funding for assisted outpatient treatment programs so that family members of the mentally ill can help them receive treatment outside of the criminal justice system and before their condition deteriorates.
· Bolstering Mental Health Funding in the Criminal Justice System—Makes up to $10 million of existing DOJ state and local law enforcement funding available for law enforcement to partner with mental health providers to provide mental health treatment and compliance through the use of long-acting medically assisted treatment.
· Expanding the Mental Health Workforce—Requires HHS to issue a report to Congress on best practices to expand the number of mental health practitioners and access to care.
Bolstering School Safety for Students and Teachers
· Incentivizing School Internet Safety to Prevent Mass Violence—Incentivize schools to enforce Internet safety polices that detect online activities of minors who are at imminent risk of committing self-harm or extreme violence against others in order to provide students with the services they need and prevent possible violence.
· Increasing Access to Active Shooter Training—Increases law enforcement and first responder access to active shooter training funds provided by the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security.
· Assisting School Behavioral Intervention Teams—Directs the Department of Health and Human Services to identify and facilitate the development of best practices to assist elementary schools, secondary schools, and institutions of higher education to operate behavioral intervention teams to identify students whose behavior indicates a threat of violence and ensure they receive the assistance and services they need.