Blunt Rochester Hosts Roundtable on the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act
Newark, September 8, 2023 | Victoria Panzera
NEWARK, Del. — Today, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) hosted a roundtable with a broad group of gun violence prevention and mental health advocates as well as local officials to highlight how funding from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is at work in Delaware to improve community safety, invest in mental health care, and increase school safety. The conversation took place at Sean’s House, a dedicated space on the University of Delaware’s campus that provides free mental health support and services.
“Marking the first time in nearly 30 years, the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was a historic start at addressing gun violence in our country. Today it is at work in Delaware, improving community safety, investing in mental health services, and increasing school safety,” said Rep. Blunt Rochester.“ While Delaware has been a true leader in implementing gun safety laws, Congress has more work to do. For us to fully address this crisis, we need to look at it through a comprehensive lens, and that means understanding the broader types of gun violence impacting our communities and the solutions to breaking the cycle. Coming together for open forums like the conversation I hosted today at Sean’s House is one avenue of helping us do just that.”
"Gun violence is a public health crisis in our state, and in our nation, and ending it will require a public health solution,” said Traci Murphy, Executive Director of the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence. “That means strong policies that keep guns out of dangerous hands and evidence-based community programs that focus on prevention education and violence interruption. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act creates necessary investments in upstream prevention programming as well as critical policy implementation support. Laws are only as strong as the implementation investments that support them.”
“For SL24 UnLocke the Light, the vision of Sean's House has always been to be a safe place to have brave conversations. It is a place where hearts speak to hearts,” said Zach Ryan, Executive Director of SL24: UnLocke the Light Foundation. “We feel the Delaware community continues to lead on having these important conversations about mental health and we welcome people from government halls to dinner tables to make space for dialogue like we had today and keep the conversations going around mental health. We are grateful for the opportunity to hold such a critical conversation about the health and wellness of young people at 136 W. Main Street.”
Blunt Rochester was joined by advocates from the Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence, Sean’s House, SL24: UnLocke the Light Foundation, the Criminal Justice Council, Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, Mental Health Association in Delaware, Delaware School Counselor Association, Red Clay Consolidated School District, and the University of Delaware as well as State Rep. Paul Baumbach and Newark Mayor Stu Markham.
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) is the most significant legislative action taken to address gun violence in nearly thirty years. One year after its enactment into law, the BSCA is at work implementing new violence prevention policies while making investments in community and school safety. The BSCA more than quadruples funding for a new, public-health-focused grant program based on provisions in Blunt Rochester’s Break the Cycle of Violence Act. These provisions were inspired by Delaware’s work to implement evidence-based programs aimed at reducing gun violence. The BSCA also includes funding for mental health services, including Blunt Rochester’s bipartisan bill, the TIKES Act, to improve and increase access to telehealth services for those with Medicaid and CHIP. Blunt Rochester voted to pass the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act in the House in June 2022.