WPRI: Langevin wants to crack down on ‘bad actor’ gun dealers

WPRI: Langevin wants to crack down on ‘bad actor’ gun dealers

By Sarah Doiron and Kim Kalunian

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Congressman Jim Langevin is calling on his colleagues in Congress to take action on a new bill he’s sponsored aimed at cracking down on a small fraction of gun dealers who are illegally selling firearms to criminals.

The bill, called “Keeping Gun Dealers Honest Act,” would increase gun dealer audits and inspections by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and strengthen penalties for violators.

“Gun dealers have a responsibility to their communities to follow the law and when they don’t the consequences can be life or death,” Langevin said Monday.

The bill was introduced by Langevin and his co-sponsors on the second anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting, when a gunman opened fire and killed 50 people on June 12, 2016 in Orlando.

According to a study by the anti-gun violence group the Brady Campaign, five percent of gun dealers provide the guns for 90 percent of crimes each year. Langevin and his colleagues are hoping this act will change that.

“Imagine if we could shut down by one-half, and perhaps by 100-percent, those five percent of dealers that are providing those weapons of 90 percent of shootings in this country,” Providence Public Commissioner Steven Pare said. “It would make it a different place here in America.”

“Many of the guns that are used in violent crimes in Rhode Island are illegally trafficked from other states bought legally by straw purchasers,” Attorney General Peter Kilmartin said. “We need strong federal legislation and enforcement to crack down on the few bad actors that continue to skirt the law in order to make a quick profit.”

Frank Saccocio of the Second Amendment Coalition said he hasn’t seen the legislation yet, but told Eyewitness News if it keeps firearms out of the hands of people that shouldn’t have them, he doesn’t have a problem with it.

“If it keeps everybody honest, that’s fine by me,” Saccocio said.

But not everyone is on board with the legislation. Owner of Proline Firearms in Warwick, John Psilopoulos told Eyewitness News, “[This bill] to me is giving the [Attorney General]’s office the right to play judge, jury and executioner.”

Langevin said the vast majority of gun dealers are doing things the right way, but this act could help prevent future crimes.

“More inspections, more accountability for gun dealers who are not doing things the right way,” Langevin said. “Hopefully this will keep more guns out of the wrong hands.”

CyberScoop: Private sector isn’t sharing data with DHS’s threat portal

CyberScoop: Private sector isn’t sharing data with DHS’s threat portal

By Sean Lyngaas

For years, U.S. government officials have been trying to provide firms with actionable threat data in time for corporate officials to block hackers from compromising their networks.

The 2015 Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) gave firms legal cover to provide threat data to the government; the Department of Homeland Security rolled out an automated threat-sharing program in 2016; and Republican and Democratic administrations have preached the information-sharing gospel at conferences across the country.

But today, amid consistent nation-state cyberthreats to U.S. companies, there is a growing consensus in Congress and in the private sector that these federal efforts are falling way short of expectations and needs.

Two years after DHS established its Automated Indicator Sharing (AIS) program, just six non-federal organizations are using it to share threat indicators with the government, a DHS official told CyberScoop.

“That’s unacceptable and it surely doesn’t reach the threshold I hoped it was going to achieve,” Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., told CyberScoop.

In an interview, Langevin reflected on the shortcomings of AIS and the legislation that paved the way for it.

“Clearly, CISA has not yet reached the full potential that I and many others had hoped it would,” Langevin said.

“We had this grand vision that once we passed the bill that the legal obstacles and the perceptual obstacles would come down,” he said, “and that everyone would be enthusiastically accepting threat information from the government and be sharing threat information back with the government.”

That simply hasn’t happened yet.

Langevin said he was still hopeful that the information-sharing regime could be significantly improved. But given that it took years of horse-trading to get CISA passed, it is an open question whether the problem can be solved through more legislation.

A spokesperson for Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., anotherclose follower of AIS, said the congressman wants DHS to brief House appropriators on how the department will get more companies to share threat data through the program.

“[I]n order for AIS to be successful, it has to be mutually beneficial,” Jaime Lennon, Ruppersberger’s spokesperson, told CyberScoop. “We need the private sector to step up and contribute more, but we have to make it easier, quicker and more fulfilling for them, too.”

DHS officials have echoed that point.

“Our shared success and security is dependent on the continued voluntary participation of private sectors,” Jeanette Manfra, DHS’s top cybersecurity official, told CyberScoop recently.

Manfra has said the department plans to update AIS this year to include automated feedback from customers on what they are doing with the threat data.

Some good with the bad

AIS is not the only information-sharing game in town – it is simply DHS’s effort to do it at machine speed. The current struggles notwithstanding, Chris Cummiskey, a former DHS official and current cybersecurity consultant, said the department has come a long way in its threat-sharing efforts.

“Only in the last several years has the department been in the position to collect the kind of [threat] data that would be usable” by the private sector, he told CyberScoop. DHS’s ability to pass the data along is maturing, he added, through the growth of its 24/7 watch center known as the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center.

And while the amount of private-sector data going to the government through AIS is not flattering, much more information appears to be flowing in the other direction. More than 260 federal and non-federal entities, and 11 international computer emergency response teams are connected to AIS, according to DHS.

There are also increasingly robust information-sharing efforts outside of government.  The nonprofit Cyber Threat Alliance (CTA) for example, disseminates threat information to its corporate members, which include Cisco and Symantec.

Ahead of the announcement last month that alleged Russian hackers had assembled a massive botnet targeting 500,000 routers, Cisco was able to share malware samples so that CTA members could respond to the threat, according to Neil Jenkins, CTA’s chief analytic officer.

By the time Cisco’s threat intelligence unit published a blog on the botnet, many CTA members had already applied protections against the threat, Jenkins told CyberScoop.

Puzzles unsolved

Such private initiatives are encouraging, observers say, but the one thing they can’t generate is classified threat intelligence. Industry executives want the government to get that classified data into the hands of more corporate officials — and to declassify it more quickly to reach a wider private-sector audience.

Some executives are mystified as to why the U.S. government — the gatekeeper of untold volumes of digital footprints — apparently still struggles to provide timely information that companies can’t get from a private cybersecurity service.

“I don’t have an answer as to why it’s so difficult to get context sometimes” with government-provided threat data, Sarah Urbanowicz, chief information security officer for engineering firm AECOM, told CyberScoop.

The “context” that Urbanowicz and many other executives seek might include qualitative analysis to complement the technical details provided on hackers. But that context is often at odds with demands for getting information a machine speed.

Scott Goodhart, chief information security officer of power firm AES Corp., called for a frank discussion with the government on the challenges it faces in pushing threat information out.

“If you know there’s a Chinese threat coming in or something, I don’t care what technique or method they use necessarily to get in, tell me the information so I can feed my systems and block it,” Goodhart told CyberScoop.

Providence Journal: Unions, R.I. officials condemn U.S. Supreme Court ruling on union dues

Providence Journal: Unions, R.I. officials condemn U.S. Supreme Court ruling on union dues

By Linda Borg

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The threatening clouds outside mirrored the tense and determined atmosphere at AFL-CIO headquarters Wednesday afternoon, as about a dozen labor unions turned out in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that government workers can’t be forced to pay union fees.

“We have received very quickly, very strong support from our congressional delegation and Governor Raimondo,” George Nee, president of the Rhode Island chapter of the AFL-CIO, said at the news conference. “When you’re in a fight, it’s good to know you have friends.

“We’re going to be fine,” he added. “We will continue to organize, and we have been organizing.”

Reaction to Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision split along ideological lines in Rhode Island, with liberals calling it an attack on organized labor and conservatives hailing it as a victory for free speech.

The court, in a 5-4 vote, ruled that non-union public-sector employees are not required to pay certain union fees, even though they benefit from collective bargaining. The case, Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, found that requiring non-union workers to pay fees violates their freedom of speech.

Gov. Gina Raimondo wrote that “the labor movement built Rhode Island’s middle class. This decision is part of a larger effort to weaken labor and diminish the middle class. … As long as I am governor, Rhode Island will continue to stand up for the middle class.”

She said her team will review this ruling and, if any changes are required, her administration will make them at the bargaining table.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse called the partisan nature of these decisions “a cancer on the credibility of the court. Celebratory tweets by Republican political leaders embracing members of the court provide a telling symbol of this breakdown.”

R.I. Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, who in January filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a Seventh Circuit decision protecting “fair share” provisions in public-sector collective bargaining agreements, likewise expressed his disappointment in Wednesday’s ruling.

“It will curtail the ability for public employees to obtain fair wages and benefits. These workers are our neighbors, our teachers, police officers and firefighters, all of whom work hard each day serving our communities and contributing to our quality of life,” Kilmartin said in a news release.

“They have already had to endure severe cutbacks to pension plans, health coverage and other benefits, while paying more, and today’s decision will further erode their ability to collectively fight for livable wages, retirement security and other important protections.”

No one knows what the impact on unions will be or how fast the effects will be felt. But such a ruling could have a crippling effect on union revenues, according to the Education Writers Association. The National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers’ union, could face a potential loss of 307,000 members over two years, according to analyst Mike Antonucci, a frequent union critic, cited in the EWA article.

“The Janus case is the most recent corporate-funded attack on public employees that seeks to silence the voice of workers,” said Jay Walsh, executive director of the University of Rhode Island Chapter of the American Association of University Professors. “Full-time faculty at URI don’t just bargain about wages and benefits. We also bargain about conditions that improve student experiences like smaller course sizes, school safety, and freedom of inquiry and expression.”

U.S. Rep. James Langevin called the ruling “a blow to working families and to the members of organized labor who are fighting for their right to earn a decent living.”

“I am appalled that the Gorsuch Court is now going after civil servants by overturning four decades of precedent and undermining their rights as employees,” he said. “Governments are not infringing on free speech by allowing workers to demand better wages.”

But the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity, a conservative research and advocacy group, said the ruling grants workplace freedom to public employees.

“The greatest benefit will be an improvement in public education,” said Mike Stenhouse, the center’s CEO. “Many education reforms that would improve schools in disadvantaged communities are prevented by union collective bargaining agreements. If unions are no longer able to force teachers who disagree with them to fund their bargaining positions, unions will have less power to impose ineffective policies into contracts.”

“We expected this,” said Nee. “I don’t see this as a weakening at all.

“We’ve been growing and in this state we’ve been strong,” he added. “We never made progress by sitting still and accepting the status quo.”

Providence Journal: R.I.’s leaders react to court travel ban decision

Providence Journal: R.I.’s leaders react to court travel ban decision

By The Providence Journal

Rhode Island responses to the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling to uphold the Trump administration ban on travel from several mostly Muslim countries:

Gov. Gina Raimondo:

“Rhode Island was founded on the idea that freedom of worship is an inherent human right. I’m disappointed that the Supreme Court sided in favor of President Trump’s immoral and unnecessary Muslim ban. Our state has always been strengthened by the contribution of immigrants. It’s now more important than ever that we show the world that there’s a place for everyone in Rhode Island. No matter your race, where you’re from, your immigration status or who you love — you are welcome here.”

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.:

“This ruling is a serious blow to religious freedom. The Trump Administration wants to use national security as a shield for bigotry. But the Muslim ban was never about national security, and to pretend otherwise is a disservice to our brave, principled military, intelligence, and national security professionals who work hard every day to keep our nation safe. Systematically discriminating against Muslims doesn’t make America safer. Period. The Trump Administration should focus on security measures that actually help protect our nation, rather than those that simply pander to his political base.

“Today, the Trump Administration is targeting Muslims, tomorrow it could be another President targeting another religion. It is up to all of us to stand up against religious discrimination, or we all risk forfeiting our own religious liberty and the rights of future generations. And it’s incumbent upon Congress to serve as a check on the Executive Branch when it tries to discriminate against people based on their religion.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.:

“I am sorry to see yet another 5-4 partisan decision by the Republican appointees on the Court, this time accepting President Trump’s political narrative about a travel ban designed to be a ‘total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.’ This breaks with the factual findings of multiple decisions by multiple courts, and reflects poorly on the Supreme Court as an institution.”

U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I.:

“This is a bad decision that undermines our security and our values. The President made clear throughout the campaign that he wanted to limit the number of Muslims allowed to enter the United States. He put that rhetoric into action a few days into his presidency. It’s sad that the conservative majority on the Supreme Court ignored these basic facts in their decision.”

“President Trump’s racist, indefensible policies are making America less safe at home and less respected around the world. We are better than this. One day, we’ll look back on this ruling and wonder how we lost our way. Until then, I’ll continue fighting to stop the damage that President Trump’s policies are inflicting on the United States.”

U.S. Rep. James Langevin, D-R.I.:

“I am deeply disappointed in today’s Supreme Court ruling to keep President Trump’s travel ban in place. As I made clear during questioning of then DHS Secretary Kelly, there is no specific intelligence backing this ban, and it can only be viewed as an expression of the President’s ill will toward Muslims. Discrimination of this sort is unjustifiable and directly contradicts the American ideals of freedom and opportunity. I trust that the lower courts will, upon further review, continue to brand this xenophobic policy as immoral and unlawful.”

Steven Brown, executive director of the ACLU of R.I.:

“Today is a shameful day in our history, but justice will ultimately prevail. In the meantime, the ACLU of RI will continue to fight for the rights of all in the face of the Trump Administration’s discriminatory and xenophobic actions. As the ACLU’s lawsuit on behalf of RI resident Lilian Calderon demonstrates, these actions affect real people in very concrete and devastating ways. We encourage all Rhode Islanders to speak out and join with us in continuing to fight these attacks on our basic rights and freedoms.

Warwick Post: Langevin Introduces Bill Improving Emergency Preparedness for People With Disabilities

Warwick Post: Langevin Introduces Bill Improving Emergency Preparedness for People With Disabilities

By Rob Borkowski

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representatives Jim Langevin (D-RI), Bennie Thompson (D-MS), and Peter King (R-NY) have introduced legislation that would create an advisory committee to improve U.S. emergency preparedness for people with disabilities.

“I understand the extra fear and uncertainty that individuals with disabilities often associate with emergencies – I’ve felt it myself,” said Langevin, co-chair of the Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus. “During disasters, it is critical that we have appropriate equipment, treatments and personnel that reflect the needs of our most vulnerable populations. This legislation will ensure that people with disabilities have a seat at the table during disaster preparedness policy making. After all, people will disabilities need to be included in disaster planning from the outset, not as an afterthought.”

“Disasters affect all populations differently. From Hurricane Katrina to Hurricane Maria last year, it is clear we are not doing enough to protect vulnerable populations, including Americans with disabilities,” said Thompson, Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security. “Having HHS revisit its preparedness planning to include the needs of those with disabilities ensures no one will get left behind. I thank my colleague, Mr. Langevin, for seeing the need for this legislation and for introducing it today.”

“When a disaster strikes, it is imperative that our Federal, State and local officials have the knowledge and a clear plan to ensure the safety of individuals with disabilities,” said King. “I want to commend my good friend Rep. Langevin on this legislation. It is critical.”

This bill would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a 25-member National Advisory Committee on Individuals with Disabilities in All-Hazards Emergencies comprised of federal and local officials with expertise in disability-related policy and at least four individuals with disabilities that have substantial experience in disability inclusive emergency management.

The advisory committee would be charged with evaluating existing policy and providing recommendations to ensure the coordination of care for those with disabilities during disasters.

What’s Up Newp: Rhode Island’s Congressional Delegation announce $12.5 Million in opioid funding now available to Rhode Island

What’s Up Newp: Rhode Island’s Congressional Delegation announce $12.5 Million in opioid funding now available to Rhode Island

By Ryan Belmore

Today, Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Congressmen Jim Langevin (D-RI) and David Cicilline (D-RI) announced in a press release a substantial increase in federal funding has been made available for Rhode Island’s fight against opioid addiction.

According to a press release issues on Tuesday, Rhode Island’s share from a grant program at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will rise from $2.1 million last year to $12.55 million as a result of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, also known as the Omnibus Appropriations law.  All four members of the delegation voted for the Omnibus, which included a $3.3 billion boost this year for opioid funding, with $142 million set aside specifically for states with the highest mortality rates from overdoses.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rhode Island had the ninth highest drug overdose death rate of any state in the nation in 2016.

In the Senate, Reed and Whitehouse, along with Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) led the effort to successfully change the grant formula by setting aside funding specifically for states hardest hit by the opioid crisis.  Their bipartisan bill, the Targeted Opioid Funding Act, prioritizes federal funding for states that have been hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, including Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and West Virginia.  The bill also called for SAMHSA, which operates under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to take into account mortality rates and lack of access to treatment and services when allocating State Targeted Response Opioid Crisis Grants, rather than making grant determinations for states based on population size.‎

“This additional federal funding is much needed and long overdue.  We worked hard to change the formula to ensure the money was going where it is most needed and that Rhode Island gets its fair share of federal assistance to help save lives, improve treatment, and address this public health crisis,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies in the press release, who helped lead efforts to increase opioid funding in the Omnibus Appropriations law.  “These additional federal funds will help Rhode Island tackle opioid addiction, enhance substance abuse prevention programs, and support law enforcement efforts in vulnerable communities.”

“In Rhode Island, we face one of the highest rates of opioid deaths in the country.  The federal government has now taken that into account in providing resources for those on the front lines of this crisis.  That’s why I was proud to join my colleagues in the delegation to push for this change and deliver this increased funding for our opioid fight,” said Senator Whitehouse in the release, who co-authored the landmark bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), the sweeping legislation guiding the federal response to the opioid epidemic, which was signed into law in 2016.

“This significant federal funding increase will provide Rhode Island with much-needed support in our efforts to battle the opioid overdose epidemic in our state,” said Congressman Langevin in the press release.  “Stopping this public health crisis requires a wide-ranging, multi-pronged approach, and I was proud to join my delegation colleagues to fight for this funding. I am also pleased that today the House is taking up my bill to create a joint task force to combat opioid trafficking, which would prevent dangerous drugs like fentanyl from flowing into our communities in the first place. “

“Right now, opioid overdoses are killing more Americans than car crashes.  This is a public health epidemic that demands an aggressive, comprehensive response.  That’s why it’s so important that Rhode Island will be getting more than $10 million in additional federal funding to end this crisis,” said Congressman Cicilline in the release.  “There is much more work to be done, but I know that our entire Congressional delegation will continue fighting for the resources we need.”

The funding comes via SAMSHA’s State Opioid Response Grants program, which will help states increase access to medication-assisted treatment and reduce opioid overdose related deaths through the provision of prevention, treatment, and recovery activities for those battling opioid addiction.

According to the Rhode Island Department of Health, 323 Rhode Islanders died of accidental drug overdoses in 2017.

GoLocalProv: Langevin Set to Launch Re-Election Campaign for Congress

GoLocalProv: Langevin Set to Launch Re-Election Campaign for Congress

By GoLocalProv Political Team

Jim Langevin is set to launch his re-election campaign for Congress in pursuit of his 10th term.

“It has been a privilege to represent the 2nd Congressional District since 2001, and I want to thank my fellow Rhode Islanders for their steadfast support and for allowing me to serve in a position that I love and I’m honored to hold. There is still much work to be done in order to keep our country moving in the right direction, and I hope voters will continue to put their faith in me to represent their best interests in Washington. I’m proud to be declaring my candidacy, and I look forward to continuing to work toward finding solutions to our nation’s most pressing challenges,” said Langevin.

Langevin will launch his campaign on Monday, June 25 at the Rhode Island Secretary of State Elections Division on W. River Street in Providence.

He will file his Declaration of Candidacy at 10 a.m.

Langevin’s Career

Langevin started his career in public service in 1986 when he was elected to the state’s Constitutional Convention.

He later served as a Warwick State Representative and was then elected Secretary of State.

Langevin was elected to the United States Congress in 2000, and currently serves as a senior member of both the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees.

Naval Sea Systems Command: NUWC Division Newport partners with Rhode Island consortium to foster faster undersea technology development

Naval Sea Systems Command: NUWC Division Newport partners with Rhode Island consortium to foster faster undersea technology development

By NUWC Division Newport Public Affairs

NEWPORT, RI — Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport today announced a three-year landmark agreement with the Undersea Technology Innovation Consortium (UTIC) of Middletown, R.I., to provide cutting-edge undersea and maritime technologies. The agreement provides the Navy with Other Transaction Authority (OTA) designed to make delivery of these technologies and related prototypes faster and more efficient than traditional federal acquisition requirements might normally permit.

NUWC Newport Commanding Officer Michael Coughlin was joined by Sen. Jack Reed, Rep. Jim Langevin and UTIC Executive Director Molly Donahue Magee in making the announcement at a media event at NUWC.

“This will streamline priorities,” said Reed, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee. “We’ve got to be quicker, faster and tap into small business innovation. This arrangement will allow this.”

“There is no better place to do this than in Rhode Island,” said Langevin, a senior member of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees. “The state is widely known for our excellence in the development of maritime and undersea technologies. This agreement will make the process more efficient and reliable.”

UTIC has estimated that the agreement may provide a minimum of $20 million to be distributed annually to technology companies through the management firm Advanced Technology International.

Langevin and Reed commended NUWC and UTIC for facilitating the collaboration and cooperation necessary to ensure Rhode Island remains well positioned to develop the next generation of undersea technologies. This award establishes the state as the Department of Defense (DoD) focal point for undersea and maritime technology innovation with particular focus on undersea vehicles, sensors and sonars, payloads, communications, electronic warfare and applicable enabling technologies such as quantum computing and advanced materials.

The Other Transaction Authority (OTA) three-year agreement allows for extensions on options for up to 10 years to engage industry and academia for a broad range of prototyping activities. OTAs allow for much greater speed, flexibility and accessibility in performing prototyping activities as they are not standard procurement contracts, grants or cooperative agreements and are generally not subject to all the federal laws and regulations that apply to government procurement contracts. Their core purpose is to accelerate access to, and adoption by, certain select agencies within government. An OTA grants access to innovative technologies from companies that otherwise would have no interest in dealing with the complexities of a standard procurement relationship with the government.

As a team, UTIC and ATI, will manage the OTA through a strong and innovative technology consortium, said Molly Donohue Magee, executive director of UTIC and the Southeastern New England Defense Industry. Headquartered in Middletown, the consortium-based model welcomes participation by organizations – both traditional and non-traditional – who have technologies that can contribute to undersea and maritime domain applications.

“We invite all companies large and small to join us to be a part of our consortium team,” Magee said.

Any commercial, nonprofit or academic institution that is part of the consortium is eligible to receive an OTA award. The process is that government customers issue a call for whitepapers to the consortium. The government may then select a small number of companies to submit a more formal proposal. Ultimately, the government selects one or more awardees and delivers funding to the selected consortium member(s) –through the consortium management organization. The government may also propose new relationships between consortium members without resoliciting white papers or proposals from the entire consortium.

The ultimate goal is to deliver the needed innovative solutions to the men and women of our armed forces via a faster process.

“It takes several years to develop, qualify and field state-of-the-art weapon system technologies and even more for new undersea systems” said Coughlin. “Often, by the time a technology is ready for fielding, the original requirement or threat has changed. This joint effort recognizes the challenge and has embraced this innovative process that facilitates better communication and collaboration while most importantly delivering needed capability faster. This collaboration will ensure undersea superiority for our Navy!”

For more information on the award, visit www.underseatech.org or email undersea@underseatech.org.

Foreign Affairs: Langevin Leads Introduction of Bipartisan Bill to Step Up Federal Fight against Rehoming

Foreign Affairs: Langevin Leads Introduction of Bipartisan Bill to Step Up Federal Fight against Rehoming

Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) today introduced bipartisan legislation to protect adopted children from being “rehomed.” The bill was introduced following a roundtable discussion on adoption permanency, which Langevin hosted at Adoption Rhode Island with child welfare advocates and adoptive families last week. Congressman Tom Marino (R-PA) joined Langevin in introducing the bill.

The Safe Home Act would close a loophole in existing federal law by clarifying that the abandonment of an adopted child with a stranger, known as rehoming, is a form of child abuse.  Reuters brought national attention to rehoming in 2013, when it published an investigative series on adoptive parents who use Internet forums to advertise children they wish to abandon. Transferring custody outside of legal adoption practices often places children at risk for neglect, exploitation, or even sexual abuse. However, state child welfare authorities have reported that they are unsure whether they can investigate rehoming cases because rehoming is not explicitly defined as a form of child abuse.

“Rehoming is a frightening phenomenon that is made all the more tragic when child welfare authorities are unable to intervene on an adopted child’s behalf,” said Congressman Langevin, co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth. “The Safe Home Act will clarify that rehoming is an abusive practice and will ensure our frontline child defenders have tools to keep adopted children safe and go after those who put them at risk.”

“Far too many adopted children are at risk of harm when there is a lack of clarity and consistency in investigative response to reports of suspected rehoming,” said Darlene Allen, Executive Director of Adoption Rhode Island, who participated in Langevin’s roundtable. “This legislation is critical to the protection of our children.”

“As the practice of rehoming has escalated, it’s become imperative that the federal government step in to take control of the situation,” said Maureen Flatley, national child welfare expert and participant in Langevin’s adoption roundtable. “Representative Langevin has long been at the forefront of this effort, and I applaud him for introducing this bill.”

“As the father of two adopted children I can think of nothing more important than making sure minors in the child welfare system are protected,” said Congressman Marino. “By classifying rehoming as a form of child abuse, The Safe Home Act gives our nation’s child welfare authorities what they need to investigate these cases. This is a common-sense piece of legislation and I look forward to working with my colleagues to move this bill forward.”

The Safe Home Act adds rehoming to the federal definition of child abuse and neglect under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), reducing legal ambiguity and allowing states to use federal funds to counter the practice. The bill protects a parent’s ability to place their children with a trusted relative when appropriate but ensures they cannot transfer custody to a stranger without the oversight of the child welfare system. It was based in part on findings from members of the National Working Group on Unregulated Child Transfers (rehoming).

Earlier this Congress, Langevin introduced the Protecting Adopted Children Act and the Supporting Adopted Children and Families Act, legislation to prevent rehoming by increasing pre- and post-adoption services, including mental health services, to ensure families never reach a crisis point at which they feel they can no longer care for their adopted child.

Homeland Preparedness News: House bill would enhance accountability for gun dealers engaging in illegal sales practices

Homeland Preparedness News: House bill would enhance accountability for gun dealers engaging in illegal sales practices

By Aaron Martin

Firearms dealers that engage in illegal sales practices would face stronger oversight from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and stiffer penalties under a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday.

U.S. Reps. Jim Langevin (D-RI), Ted Deutch (D-FL), and Gwen Moore (D-WI) introduced the Keeping Gun Dealers Honest Act on the second anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. The lawmakers cited a study by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence that found 5 percent of gun dealers supply 90 percent of guns used in crimes in calling for more oversight and stiffer penalties.

“The vast majority of gun dealers follow the law, but the few engaging in reckless and illegal behavior are a major factor in the gun violence epidemic gripping our nation,” Langevin said. “By specifically targeting bad actors that sell guns without background checks or falsify records, this bill will help stop guns from getting into the hands of criminals. It is absolutely critical that we do everything we can to ensure our laws are properly enforced to stem the tide of violence engulfing our communities.”

Under the bill, the ATF would have more authority to conduct inspections to ensure that gun dealers comply with federal law. Gun dealers that falsify gun sale records would face longer prison sentences, and those that fail to comply with ATF regulations could face additional civil sanctions.

“Tragedy after tragedy we are told that we don’t need any new gun laws, that we should just enforce the laws on the books,” Deutch said. “But in too many cases, we’ve seen that the laws on the books are practically unenforceable. The combination of stringent standards and depleted budgets put ATF inspectors in an impossible situation. Recent reports show that many gun dealers who illegally sell weapons to people who have proven that they are not responsible gun owners routinely get a free pass — even after repeated violations.”

The bill would also give the ATF more discretion when issuing gun licenses. ATF could also force gun dealers that are connected to 10 or more crimes to conduct physical inventories.

“We’ve seen time and time again what happens when guns land in the wrong hands,” Moore said. “This bill takes a critical step forward in preventing such tragedies by ensuring that gun dealers engaging in illegal and reckless behavior are punished under the full extent of the law. The time for Congress to act is long overdue. We must move quickly to pass this legislation to help keep our communities safe.”

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) has announced plans to introduce companion legislation in the Senate.