• Press Release

Two Years After the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, MFOL Celebrates Progress and Urges Congress to Act Again 

On this pivotal anniversary, the Surgeon General declared that gun violence is a public health crisis, echoing March For Our Lives’s call for urgent and comprehensive action on gun violence.

Washington, D.C. — Two years ago, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), the single most significant and comprehensive federal gun safety package in three decades, was signed into law. The historic legislation came just two weeks after hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, and young people took to the streets across the country with March For Our Lives to demand action following the twin tragedies in Buffalo, NY, and Uvalde, TX. During the same time, March For Our Lives youth members also met with over 80 Congressional offices from both sides of the aisle to make our message clear: pass life-saving legislation or get out of our way. And we won. 

“Young people are safer today because of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, that’s a fact,” said Natalie Fall, Executive Director of March For Our Lives. “We can’t know the precise number of lives saved, but we have an idea, and it should give us hope for progress in the fight against the gun violence epidemic. This a historic achievement, and wouldn’t have been possible without the relentless efforts of young people who took to the streets with March For Our Lives, and took their demands directly to the halls of power.” 

Today’s anniversary is also marked by a new advisory released by the Surgeon General, declaring gun violence a public health crisis, something youth activists have called for for years. While short of an executive order calling for a public health emergency, this is a positive step forward in acknowledging the scale of the crisis and marshaling federal resources to address the epidemic of gun violence. The Surgeon General’s report calls for an increase in funding for gun violence prevention research, recommends extreme risk protection orders, universal background checks, and more, and underscores the need for a public health approach to address this epidemic. This advisory proves what we already know––that we need more life-saving and preventative legislation like the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

Since its passage, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act has already saved countless lives and made an impact on gun violence. It has:

  • Enhanced background checks for people under 21––preventing guns from getting into the hands of those who might harm themselves or others
  • Funded extreme risk protection orders and crisis intervention programs. Of the 21 states that have “red flag laws,” 14 have already accessed or planned to access this funding from BSCA.
  • Invested hundreds of millions into community violence intervention programs and has already distributed some of the money to over 80 programs across the country.  
  • Directed over three billion dollars into mental health resources and school-based mental health programs, with initial results including Mental Health Awareness Training for over 170,000 and investments in the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

As a result, gun homicides plummeted in 2023, with “a historic overall single-year decline in gun homicides across the country.” Early data for 2024 shows that this trend will continue, with new data released by the FBI for the first quarter of 2024 showing that the gun homicide rate is “headed for its largest annual decline ever,” about 26% compared to the same time period in 2023. According to the Center for American Progress, in 2023 gun deaths declined much faster in states with stronger gun laws than those with weaker ones, and the historic declines in gun violence nationwide are evidence of stronger gun laws and major investments like the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The data is clear: BSCA is working, and states that take advantage of it with stronger gun laws are saving lives and investing in thriving communities. These statistics are also the result of the power and impact of preventive solutions that interrupt cycles of violence, such as community violence intervention programs and other public health approaches. 

This is historic progress, and we’re heartened to have enthusiastic partners in the Biden administration leading the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, and we’re grateful to those leaders at the state and local level who have seized the historic opportunity to implement BSCA to protect their constituents and communities. This tremendous progress is what is at stake in elections up and down the ballot this November. 

Even as we’ve secured transformative change that will save lives, we still have so much more to do. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was the floor and not the ceiling, and March For Our Lives continues to demand that the gun industry be held accountable for deceptive marketing practices to children and teens; we pass a ban on assault weapons and bump stocks; keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and others who are a threat to themselves and others; tackle police violence and violence fueled by white supremacy; and make robust investments in the things like well-funded schools and accessible healthcare, that communities around the country need to live in safety. Most urgently, our leaders in Congress must act on their duty to protect us. 

Despite our hard-fought progress, in 2023, guns remained the number one cause of death for children in the United States. Yet Congress did not pass a single piece of gun safety legislation last year. That is why MFOL and our partners went to Capitol Hill earlier this month and met with dozens of Congressional officials, urging them to pass the next pieces of historic legislation, The People’s Response Act and the Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act. March believes that these bills are the next step to address the gun violence epidemic and we’re putting our full political power behind them. 

The gun violence epidemic continues to rage, and it demands proactive, public-health centered solutions now. Instead of spending scarce resources on reactive measures, like putting more armed officers in schools, a practice that does not reduce school shootings and instead underpins the school-to-prison pipeline, or arming our teachers––young people need more legislation like that Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and for our leaders to adopt evidence-based approaches to this epidemic. For far too often and for far too long, our existing and extremely misguided approach to public safety has had devastating and deadly effects, especially for young people, persons with disabilities, and Black and brown communities. Enough is enough. We have the solutions and the data is clear––now is the time for our leaders to act.