The Office of Governor Dannel P. Malloy
Governor Dannel P. Malloy, together with legislative leaders and a wide array of gun violence prevention organizations, today commemorated the passage of SB1160, the historic legislation passed last year to curb the risk of gun violence.
Francine Lobis Wheeler, who lost her six-year-old son Benjamin in the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, voiced support for legislation that would prevent criminals and the severely mentally ill from purchasing firearms.
Today, Facebook announced an initiative that will block children from viewing firearms sales ads, inform users of legal and responsible approaches to gun transactions, and help enforce the law by deleting posts that encourage no-background check or illegal sales.
We were pleased to work with Facebook to develop a new set of policies that protects the safety of its users, educates its users about lawful and responsible firearms transactions, and helps prevent illegal activity from occurring.
Last month, Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden traveled to New Hampshire to advocate for legislation that would require criminal background checks for all commercial sales and transfers, preventing dangerous criminals from purchasing firearms online and at gun shows.
In a positive shift, the bill made it out of committee and to the floor for a full house vote. While the New Hampshire House ultimately failed to pass this bill, this represents a major advance in the conversation on gun safety in New Hampshire.
We're disappointed by this setback, but very encouraged by the incredible volume of our supporters' voices dedicated to protecting our communities.
We will continue to work side by side with Granite State Progress, New Castle Promise and the New Hampshire legislature to close the background check loophole and help protect the people of New Hampshire and neighboring states.
We applaud Judge Covello's ruling, which we believe was CORRECT in upholding the Connecticut law that both protects the 2nd Amendment Rights of our citizens and protects our children from gun violence.
Sandy Hook Promise today released the following statement from Nelba Marquez-Greene, SHP's Director of Mental Health and Relational Wellness, on the FY2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill just passed by the House of Representatives, to be considered by the Senate shortly:
"Mental illness does not cause gun violence, in fact, people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. But mental illness is more than an occasional factor in gun violence, most frequently in school shootings like the one that stole the lives of our loved ones, suicides and other incidents of gun violence as well. A holistic solution is needed to address the problem of gun violence and looking at mental illness and general mental wellness are critical parts of the solution.
Since our founding exactly one year ago, Sandy Hook Promise has believed in and advocated for increased attention to promoting mental wellness and increasing early intervention to prevent mental illness that might lead to violent behavior. These are measures that impact all communities. No zip code is exempt. We have worked closely with the White House and both houses of Congress, having many meaningful, personal conversations with members on both sides of the aisle, to stress the importance of focusing on mental health alongside gun safety. We are extremely pleased with the $115 million included in the omnibus funding bill for the President's Now is the Time violence prevention initiative. We applaud the efforts of Senate Appropriations Chair Barbara Mikulski to ensure the inclusion of this funding in the Omnibus.
This funding will advance critical prevention efforts, providing training to teachers, providing services to students and young people at risk, and increasing the availability of trained behavioral health professionals.
"This is the first step in a long road but we go forward in 2014 with hope, knowing that we have been heard, and as a result, lives may be saved."
Below is a summary of the mental health provisions in the FY2014 Omnibus funding bill:
- The bill provides $15 million for Mental Health First Aid grants, which will allow teachers to reach 750,000 students with the goal of recognizing those with mental illness early and referring them to treatment. This program has been championed in the Senate by Senators Begich and Ayotte.
- The bill provides $40 million for Project Aware, which will provide 20 grants to State Education Authorities (SEAs) for comprehensive programs in 1,000-1,500 schools to get students with mental health issues referred to needed services.
- The bill provides $40 million for behavioral health workforce training, which will add an estimated 4,375 social workers, psychologists, therapists and other health professionals to the health workforce.
- The bill provides $20 million for programs targeting young adults at high risk of mental illness.
- Additionally, the Omnibus bill provides $484 million for the Mental Health Block Grant, an increase of $47 million. For the first time, the bill includes language directing States to use 5 percent of their Block Grants for early intervention programs for those with serious mental illness such as psychosis. Decreasing the delay between the first onset of symptoms and people receiving the help they need shows tremendous promise.
- The bill provides $46 million for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, an increase of $2.7 million. This network of university, hospital, and community-based centers was established to improve access to care, treatment, and services for children and adolescents exposed to traumatic events.
- The bill provides $65 million for suicide prevention programs, an increase of $10 million. This includes a total of $48 million for the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act programs.
Tim Makris, Executive Director of Sandy Hook Promise, the grassroots organization created by community members of Newtown, CT in the aftermath of the December 14 shooting, issued the following statement today on the shooting at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell, New Mexico:
"Today our hearts break as we learn of the school shooting at Berrendo Middle School that has injured two students. Exactly one year to the day after the formation of Sandy Hook Promise, an organization devoted to addressing the causes of gun violence, we are painfully reminded that our work is far from done. No child should ever have reason to be afraid to go to school. We ask that every parent and every American join us in helping make our future safer for our communities and for our children."
Local reports say that a 14-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl were airlifted to University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas; hospital officials say the boy is in critical condition and the girl is in serious condition.
Last January 14, just one month after the shocking and tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary that devastated our community, we announced the formation of Sandy Hook Promise. It has been a long and difficult year, but despite Washington's inaction, we feel proud of the work our supporters have helped us achieve in building a lasting organization capable of achieving success in our communities.
We've led efforts to pass new mental health legislation in Connecticut and to strengthen responsible gun legislation not only in our home state, but also in Delaware, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and other states. At the federal level, we're working to advance mental health care and continuing to push for common sense solutions like background checks.
But more importantly, we're working person-by-person, neighborhood-by-neighborhood, on changes we can all make within our own communities – like helping children and young adults feel more connected.
Today, we celebrate that work and invite you to do the same by reading the timeline below. You are part of this process, and we can't do it without you. Tomorrow, we roll up our sleeves again and get back to work. Thank you.