April 12, 2022

Congressman Neguse Unveils Legislative Package to Prevent Mass Shootings, Expand Worker Safety & Increase Mental Health Support One Year After King Soopers Tragedy

Watch live as he unveils the bills with Boulder & Broomfield DAs, UFCW, Mental Health Partners and King Soopers employees. 

Boulder, CO — One year after the mass shooting at the Table Mesa King Soopers in Boulder, Colorado on March 22nd, Congressman Joe Neguse, a Vice-Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, today unveiled a legislative package to prevent mass shootings, expand worker safety, and increase mental health and trauma support for communities recovering from tragedy. Following multiple mass shooting incidents in Colorado, including the Columbine high school shooting in 1999, the Aurora movie theater shooting in 2012, and the shooting at King Soopers last year, the proposals would enhance security measures and training protocols to reduce the threat of gun violence at schools, grocery stores, movie theaters and other community gathering facilities. The legislation is co-lead by Congresswoman Veronica Escobar of Texas, Congresswoman Lucy McBath of Georgia, Congressman Ted Deutch of Florida, Congresswoman Nikema Williams of Georgia, David Cicilline of Rhode Island and Congressman André Carson of Indiana. 

“The tragedy that unfolded on March 22nd has left a lot of fear, trauma and uncertainty in its wake, in particular for individuals working at the Table Mesa King Soopers,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “As we continue to push for the enactment of Federal gun violence prevention measures, and work to heal as a community, there are several common-sense steps we can take to better protect our communities and ensure the public is protected. The legislative package we’re unveiling today is the result of months-long discussions with Colorado workers, teachers and community members, and it is our hope these provisions will address several concerns raised with our office. At the federal level, we are working to ensure that our community has the necessary resources to feel safe in the aftermath of this devastating incident.”

Congressman Neguse recently secured $275,000 in federal funding for the Boulder Strong Resource Center to support their mental health and trauma support programming.  

“Here in Colorado and across the nation, there have been far too many mass killings.  We need more action at the federal level – for the victims, survivors and our communities,” said DA Michael Dougherty. “These bills are a significant, positive step to reduce acts of mass violence, protect workers, and keep people safe. Mass killings can have a terrible impact on the survivors who have to live with it every day, especially for those who have to return to the place where it happened. For the survivors of gun violence, this bill will provide funding for essential mental health services. This bill will allow them to receive the help and support that they need. I appreciate and strongly support Representative Neguse’s continued leadership on this important issue.”

“April 20, 1999, a day in which my life changed forever; a day in which the lives of the members of our society changed forever,” said former Columbine superintendent Frank DeAngelis. “It is 23 years later, and the violence continues. As I stated on numerous occasions “It is a Marathon and not a Sprint.” The bills proposed by Congressman Joe Neguse address the needs of communities following the tragic events. Funding to communities to implement preventative measures to combat terrorism and mass violence is paramount in keeping our communities safe.  We have learned in Colorado that no institution is exempt from the horrific events occurring in their communities. I can assure you that you are not going to wake up some morning and everything is going to be back to normal.  Providing help for healing communities is not only important in the aftermath of the event but also help needs to be provided for years following.”

“We live in an era where our country is known worldwide more for its gun violence than it is for safe and equitable treatment for all. That’s why we’re grateful to Rep. Joe Neguse and the bills he will introduce to support workers’ safety from gun violence in the workplace,” said Amie Baca-Oehlert, high school counselor and president of the Colorado Education Association. “We believe that no one should ever feel unsafe at work and Rep. Neguse understands that preventive measures, studying the cause and effect of gun violence in the workplace and mental, social and emotional support goes a long way to helping workers feel safe in their work environments. We know that for schools in particular, gun violence is not only harmful to the educators who serve students, but of course to the students as well and this is why we are even more emphatic that our schools must be a safe place for all and free from gun violence.” 

“It is on the anniversary of these tragedies that the heartbreak can resurface,” said Congresswoman McBath. “It is the reminder every parent dreads, a reminder that as mothers and fathers, we’ve had to bury our babies. It is a reminder to friends and families of the fear and desperation of that day. And it is a reminder to the children who survived these shootings, who now live with the trauma that only stepping over a friend painted in blood could ever bring. We must do more to stop this pain and save the lives of our children. And we must help the survivors, all of them, from the angst and agony that comes with losing a loved one.”

“Gun violence is an epidemic, and victims and survivors deserve more than thoughts and prayers. My home of El Paso, Texas continues to recover from the August 3rd, 2019 domestic terror attack shooting, when a 21-year-old gunman murdered members of my community,” said Congresswoman Escobar. “In addition to the mental and emotional trauma we still carry from that day, survivors of the shooting are shouldering the financial consequences of ongoing surgeries, medical care, and recovery over two years later. Sadly, El Paso is just one example of many. Amending the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) to include priority assistance funding for the families of victims of homicide and firearm violence is an important, common-sense step toward facilitating healing, assisting recovery, and addressing the incredible harms done by gun violence.”

 

The package is endorsed by United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), Community Justice Action Fund, Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Violence Policy Center, Niskanen Center, Teamsters, Alliance for Suicide Prevention of Larimer County, Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council, SEIU, Colorado Education Association, National Education Association.

Read a fact sheet on the bills here.

The bills include: 

  • Help for Healing Communities Act—this bill creates a new grant program in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to provide funding for mental health services to those who have survived an active shooter event or incident of targeted violence. The aim of this program is to promote resilience and equity in communities that have recently faced an active shooter or event of targeted violence through implementation of evidence-based, violence prevention, and community engagement programs, as well as linkages to trauma-informed behavioral health services.
  • STOP Violence Act—this bill would provide federal funding for preventative security measures at active shooter sites and public assembly facilities. The Department of Justice’s anti-terrorism and emergency funding program currently allows for public agencies, US Attorney’s offices, public institutions of higher education and nongovernmental and victim services organizations to receive funding after a crime of terrorism or mass violence has occurred. The STOP Violence Act would expand this program to include the location of active shooter events, such as the Table Mesa King Soopers and public assembly facilities.
  • Safe Workplaces Act, this bill would direct the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health to conduct a study on threats of violence, including gun violence, in the workplace. Once the study has been completed, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is tasked with developing best practices for employers to keep employees safe from these threats of violence which will be publicly disseminated.
  • Prioritizing Resources for Victims of Firearm Violence Act to designate as a fifth priority category programs that provide assistance and mental health services to victims of firearm violence and families of victims of homicide through the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). Ensuring states allocate at least 10% of VOCA funding to these programs, to guarantee funding for victims and communities in need. 

Background: 

Following the mass shooting at the Table Mesa King Soopers on March 22nd, Congressman Neguse has introduced and advocated on several measures to address the gun violence epidemic. Immediately following the shooting, he sent a letter to President Biden advocating for the DOJ to regulate concealable assault-style firearms, like the one used in the Boulder shooting. Shortly after his letter, President Biden announced action on this issue in a Rose Garden Ceremony, with Congressman Neguse in attendance. In November 2021, Congressman Neguse unveiled the End Gun Violence Act, legislation to prohibit individuals with violent misdemeanors from purchasing guns – a law that if in place is believed to have stopped the Boulder shooter. On Friday, Congressman Neguse and Congresswoman Lucy McBath reiterated a request to President Biden for him to establish an Interagency Gun Violence Prevention Task Force at the White House to ensure a whole of government approach to tackling the epidemic. 

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