Landmark funding to ATF, background check system, and community violence prevention follows decades of systematic under-resourcing
Washington, D.C., Dececember 23, 2022 — As the 117th Congress enters its final days, Brady commends members of Congress on both sides of the aisle for voting in favor of the FY 2023 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which contains historic levels of funding for gun violence prevention programs.
Kris Brown, president of Brady, said:
“With this historic funding, gun violence prevention champions in the 117th Congress are taking crucial steps toward ending decades of systematic underfunding spearheaded by NRA-backed politicians. The gun violence prevention majority is charting a new and safer course for Americans everywhere, with landmark investments in proven programs and solutions that will save lives.”
“We especially appreciate the commitment to enforcing laws already on the books, ensuring that negligent and irresponsible gun industry actors are held accountable, in addition to an emphasis on background checks, community-based violence intervention, mental health support, and suicide prevention. A public health epidemic with so many root causes requires us to address it from all angles, and this funding will do just that.”
Highlights of the legislation include:
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)
The bill includes $1.75 billion for ATF, which is the sole agency tasked with regulating the firearms industry. The figure is a 14.1% increase ($216 million) over FY22 enacted funding levels, which will bolster efforts to prevent and respond to gun violence.
After decades of systematic underfunding, in 2018 a gun violence prevention majority was elected to the House of Representatives. Since 2019, ATF’s appropriated funding has increased by 33%.
- Strengthening the Brady Background System
The bill includes $125 million in funding for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which was established by the Brady Bill as a tool for keeping guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.
Despite the importance of background checks, nearly 22% of U.S. gun owners acquired their most recent firearm without a background check, leaving gaping holes that contribute to guns in the hands of prohibited persons and firearms trafficking.
Combined with the additional $100 million included in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) in June 2022, NICS funding has received a 32.4% increase over FY22 levels.
The bill also includes $95 million in grants to states to upgrade their records for NICS, in addition to the $40 million annual appropriation provided in BSCA for this purpose.
- Gun Violence Research
The bill includes $26 million explicitly for research on gun violence between the Department of Justice (DOJ,) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC,) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH,) a $1 million increase over the previous year.
This commitment comes after Congress recently ended a more than 20-year hiatus on federally funded research on gun violence.
- Community Violence Intervention (CVI)
The bill includes $50 million for CVI through the DOJ, equal to the amount provided in FY22. This is in addition to the $50 million in annual funds already appropriated through BSCA.
CVI programs are proven to be effective at reducing rates of gun violence. They are evidence-based, public health initiatives that work with and within communities — especially systematically underserved and under-resourced Black and Brown communities — to address the root causes of conflict and trauma. These include hospital-based interventions, in- and after-school programs, violence interruption, and other efforts.
- Investments in Mental Health Services
Between agencies such as the CDC and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the bill includes more than $140 million for suicide prevention efforts.
The bill also increases funding for the Byrne JAG program, which can be used to support the implementation of state crisis intervention and Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) programs.
Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.