Gun Violence Prevention
I have always believed that reasonable measures that reduce gun violence and keep firearms out of the wrong hands are entirely consistent with the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Throughout my tenure in Congress, I have tried to advance commonsense reforms that protect our communities from harm while still allowing responsible, law-abiding citizens to own and use guns. Our current laws are failing us, and I refuse to believe that this issue is too complicated or too politically divisive to be addressed comprehensively and effectively.
As a Vice Chair of the House Democrats' Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, I have helped lead the effort within Congress to help prevent tragedies from recurring. The Task Force's proposal calls for a reinstatement of federal bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, universal background checks on gun sales, and expanded support for mental health services. The proposal also encourages the expansion of critical law enforcement activities to reduce gun violence--such as local gun buy-back programs--and removing misguided restrictions on research into the causes of gun violence in our communities.
On the Appropriations Committee, I have led efforts to eliminate the federal ban on funding for gun violence research, which has been in place for decades. I strongly believe that this ban is outdated and misguided, and that academic research could provide important insights that could help reduce the impact of gun violence.
In an effort to jump-start consideration of comprehensive reforms, Democrats in Congress have also introduced several stand-alone bills to strengthen and improve our nation's gun laws. Among other measures, I am a cosponsor of legislation to expand background checks and close the "gun show loophole" that allows as many as 40 percent of all guns sold in the United States to change hands without proper screening; legislation to repeal the so-called "Tiahrt restrictions" that prevent federal agencies from enforcing anti-gun trafficking laws; and legislation that would impose stricter penalties on gun dealers who skirt the law.
These bills represent sensible–and in some cases, bipartisan–reforms that would have a measurable impact on the safety of our schools and communities without preventing law-abiding citizens from using guns for self defense or recreational purposes. President Obama has made clear that achieving progress on this issue is a priority for his second term; it is now up to Congress to fulfill its responsibilities and pass comprehensive legislation to reduce gun violence.