September 14, 2019
During my first week back in Washington after a busy and successful Summer district work period, I was struck by the number of major issues that Congress urgently needs to address. And with several deadly mass shootings just in the past few weeks, gun violence needs to be at the top of our list.
On an average day in America, more than 100 people die from gun violence. Last year, more than 45,000 people were killed or injured by a gun. More than 3,500 of the victims were children or teenagers.
Americans today are 25 times more likely to die by a gun homicide than the people of any other developed nation. We do not have 25 times more mental illness, nor 25 times more violent video games. There can be no question: our county is facing a gun violence epidemic.
Some 90 percent of Americans polled support universal background checks, but for years Congress has failed to advance legislation. I was proud to cosponsor H.R. 8: Bipartisan Background Checks Act to require background checks for all firearms sales and remove current loopholes in the law by establishing new background check requirements for firearm transfers of unlicensed individuals. H.R. 8 passed the House in February, but the Senate Majority Leader still refuses to allow a vote on this common-sense measure.
There is much more Congress can do to strengthen our laws about gun violence. I also cosponsor:
- The Disarm Hate Act: prohibits individuals convicted of a misdemeanor-level hate crime or who have received an enhanced sentence for a misdemeanor crime after a judicial finding that they acted with hate or bias motivation from buying or possessing guns.
- The COOL OFF Act: requires all buyers to wait three business days before receiving a handgun, regardless of how quickly they pass a background check.
- The Assault Weapons Ban: prohibits the sale, transfer, production and importation of semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and pistols that have military-style features including large magazine sizes.
- The Extreme Risk Protection Order Act: sets up a grant program to incentivize states to adopt extreme risk (a.k.a. red flag) laws that allow for courts to direct the temporary removal of firearms from a person at risk of harming themselves or others.
- The Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act: protects survivors of dating violence & stalking by closing two loopholes in existing law and maintaining due process protections for the accused.
For far too long, gun industry lobbying has stopped scientific research and other measures that could help prevent gun violence, despite evidence that smart gun safety laws save lives. Congress needs to act to protect our families and communities from the senseless and preventable violence that continues to grip our nation.
Now, more than ever before, there is consensus among Americans that something must be done about gun violence. I have spoken with gun control advocates, gun owners and gun venders alike throughout my district and their sentiments are the same. People want common-sense gun legislation that will save lives and protect our communities.
Without additional data into gun violence and its causes, we cannot hope to end this violence. But, by supporting researchers and the facts surrounding gun violence, we can begin to address this crisis that has haunted our country for so long.
Thank you to everyone who continues to raise your voice to speak out about gun violence in our lives. Your words and your wisdom are an inspiration to all.
As always, thank you for reading.