(The Center Square) – The Missouri Department of Public Safety was awarded a $5.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday as part of a crisis intervention program.
Missouri received one of 49 awards to states, territories and the District of Columbia as part of the $231 million Byrne State Crisis Intervention Program. It was authorized through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act of 2022 with $13 billion for various programs.
Crisis intervention court proceedings and related state programs or initiatives will be funded through the grants. They include extreme risk protection order programs to prevent those who pose a threat to themselves or others from obtaining guns, commonly called “red flag laws.” Funding also is for mental health courts, drug courts and veterans treatment courts.
Missouri House Bill 85, known as the Second Amendment Preservation Act, was signed into law by Republican Gov. Mike Parson in June 2021. The law prohibits state and local cooperation with federal officials in attempting to enforce any laws, rules, orders or other actions violating the Second Amendment rights of Missourians. Any person or entity knowingly depriving a Missourian of their right to bear arms – as protected by the state and federal constitutions – will be liable to the injured party for redress, including monetary damages in the amount of $50,000 per occurrence and injunctive relief.
The DOJ’s media release announcing the grants said the legislation seeks to ensure all programs are implemented “in accordance with the Constitution and provide for adequate due process protections. Projects funded under this program will need to demonstrate that they have taken measures to safeguard the constitutional rights of an individual subject to a crisis intervention program.”
Former Missouri U.S. Senator Roy Blunt was criticized by dozens of Republicans in the legislature last summer for voting to approve the legislation. Some legislators stated the law would lead to the spread of gun confiscation laws throughout the country.
“These awards will support the kinds of crisis intervention programs that we know save lives and help protect children, families, and communities across the country from senseless acts of gun violence,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement announcing the grants.
The description of Missouri’s award states it will fund state and local efforts to prevent or reduce crime and violence “with a particular focus on gun violence and the programs and initiatives that target the risk factors that are likely to lead to this kind of violence.”
The DOJ stated Missouri’s Crisis Intervention Advisory board identified as priorities the funding of specialized court-based programs, behavioral threat assessment programs, crisis intervention and violent crime prevention and reduction.
The Department of Public Safety is tasked with allocating funds to eligible state, county and local courts, institutes of higher learning, law enforcement, supervision agencies, prosecutors, public defenders and behavioral health organizations.
An email requesting comment from the Department of Public Safety on Tuesday wasn’t immediately returned.