Cornyn: RESPONSE Act Would Help Stop Mass Shootings


In: All News   Posted 10/24/2019
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‘Two months ago, Texans were mourning the loss of 22 of our people killed in a senseless attack in El Paso, Texas. Little did we know that we were just days away from another violent attack, this time in Midland and Odessa that took seven lives.’

‘As I visited with the families and offered my condolences following each of these attacks, there was one common refrain, one common request: please do something.’

‘I’m introducing the Restoring, Enhancing, Strengthening and Promoting Our Nation's Safety Efforts, or the RESPONSE, Act.’

‘There are commonsense measures that we can take to reduce mass violence and protect the American people. As Texans continue to grieve in the aftermath of these attacks, I’m committed to upholding my promise that I made to their families and friends to do something, to do what we can, to prevent more communities from facing this sort of heartbreak.’

WASHINGTON – Yesterday on the floor, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) discussed his introduction of the Restoring, Enhancing, Strengthening and Promoting Our Nation's Safety Efforts (RESPONSE) Act, legislation containing provisions to reduce mass violence and make communities safer. Excerpts of Sen. Cornyn’s floor remarks are below, and video can be found here.

“Two months ago, Texans were mourning the loss of 22 of our people killed in a senseless attack in El Paso, Texas. Little did we know that we were just days away from another violent attack, this time in Midland and Odessa that took seven lives.”

“As I visited with the families and offered my condolences following each of these attacks, there was one common refrain, one common request: please do something.”

“Today I’m introducing the Restoring, Enhancing, Strengthening and Promoting Our Nation's Safety Efforts, or the RESPONSE, Act.”

“First, this legislation takes aim at unlicensed firearms dealers who are breaking existing law. Shortly after the Midland-Odessa shooting, we learned that the shooter failed a background check when he attempted to buy a gun from a licensed dealer. He then managed to circumvent the process by purchasing his weapon from somebody who appears to have been in the business of manufacturing and selling guns but who is not a registered firearms dealer. By not registering as a dealer, the seller was able to skirt the legal requirement and sell a weapon to the shooter without conducting the necessary background check.”

“So to prevent unlicensed dealers like that from continuing to break the law, the RESPONSE Act creates a nationwide task force to investigate and prosecute those individuals.”

“The task forces will focus on both those who are illegally selling firearms as well as those attempting to buy firearms who provide false statements as part of a background check.”

“Third, the RESPONSE Act seeks to increase the safety of our students.”

“The RESPONSE Act includes provisions to help identify students whose behavior indicates a threat of violence and then provide the student with the appropriate services they may need to not be a danger to themselves or others.”

“By promoting best practices within our schools, as well as internet safety policies, we can help protect both students and school faculty and provide parents with a little peace of mind.”

“And finally, because so often these shooters advertise on social media, or cry out for attention to law enforcement or other people ahead of time, this legislation includes provisions to ensure law enforcement can receive timely information about potential threats made online.”

“The RESPONSE Act would expand the scope of information they can share to include information about potential acts of mass violence, or self-harm, or hate crimes, or acts of domestic terrorism.”

“There's no quick fix, as I said, but there are commonsense measures that we can take to reduce mass violence and protect the American people. As Texans continue to grieve in the aftermath of these attacks, I’m committed to upholding my promise that I made to their families and friends to do something, to do what we can, to prevent more communities from facing this sort of heartbreak.”


Background on the RESPONSE Act:

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.