Gun Violence Prevention
As a hunter and gun owner I believe we should protect a law-abiding individual’s Second Amendment right to own firearms. As a dad and grandfather I also believe that we have a responsibility to make our schools, streets and communities safe. We can do both, but Congress will need to step up.
After being named chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force in the U.S. House of Representatives, I held a series of open town halls in our district that examined some of the actions that Congress could take. Hundreds attended these meetings. I heard views from law enforcement officials, mental health experts, school officials, NRA members and gun control advocates. Many feared that their Second Amendment rights would come under attack when my task force made its recommendations to Congress. Others wanted to cast those rights aside.
I believe both views are too extreme. I will never give up my guns and I will never ask law-abiding Americans without a history of dangerous mental illness to give up theirs. Not only am I personally against this, the Constitution does not allow it. In District of Columbia v. Heller the Supreme Court affirmed once and for all that Americans have a right to keep and bear arms.
However, just as the First Amendment protects free speech but doesn't allow you to incite violence, the Second Amendment has restrictions too. As conservative justice Anthony Scalia outlined, Heller does not prohibit laws forbidding firearms in places such as schools, nor does it restrict laws prohibiting felons and the mentally ill from carrying guns.
This ruling provides people on both sides of the issue with an opportunity to work within the confines of the Second Amendment and pass legislation that will reduce and prevent gun violence.
My task force released a comprehensive set of policy principles that will reduce gun violence and respect the Second Amendment.
Of those recommendations, the single most important thing Congress can do is pass H.R. 1565, the bipartisan legislation that I co-authored with Peter King of New York to strengthen and expand our background check system. This bill bolsters the Second Amendment rights of lawful gun owners and helps keep guns from criminals, terrorists and the dangerously mentally ill.
H.R. 1565 requires comprehensive and enforceable background checks on all commercial gun sales, including those at gun shows, over the internet or through classified ads while providing reasonable exceptions for family and friends. Background checks would be conducted though a licensed dealer in the same manner as they have for more than 40 years.
H.R. 1565 is pro-lawful gun owner, pro-Second Amendment, and anti-criminal.
Right now, a criminal in many states can buy a firearm at a gun show, over the internet, or through a newspaper ad – because those sales don’t require a background check. Last year, the background check system identified and denied 88,000 gun sales to criminals, domestic abusers, those with dangerous mental illnesses, and other prohibited purchasers. However, those same criminals could buy those same guns at a gun show or over the Internet without any questions asked. H.R. 1565 closes this huge loophole, greatly reducing the number of places a criminal can buy a gun.
H.R. 1565 supports the Second Amendment. It provides reasonable exceptions for firearm transfers between family and friends. You won’t have to get a background check when you inherit the family rifle, borrow a friend’s shotgun for a hunting trip, or purchase a gun from a buddy or neighbor.
It bans the creation of a federal registry and makes the misuse of records a felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison; it allows active duty military to buy firearms in their home states and the state in which they are stationed; it authorizes the use of a state concealed carry permit in lieu of a background check to purchase a firearm; and, it allows interstate handgun sales from licensed dealers.
H.R. 1565 is consistent with Heller and will help keep our communities safe. This debate on background checks isn't a choice between either protecting the Second Amendment or reducing gun violence. It's about the willingness of a responsible majority to do both.
More on Gun Violence Prevention
Washington – Today, Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) announced Chief Andrew Bidou of the Vallejo Police Department will be his guest for the President’s upcoming address to a Joint Session of Congress.
Washington – Today, Chairman Mike Thompson (CA-05) of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force forcefully spoke against H.J. Res. 40, which would undermine the background check system for firearm purchases by prohibiting the Social Security Administration (SSA) from reporting the names of beneficiaries who cannot responsibly own a firearm to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
Washington – Today, the President announced his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) released the following statement:
“As our country faces significant challenges from gun violence to access to healthcare, we must have a Supreme Court that reflects the values and ethics of the American people. I am deeply concerned that Judge Gorsuch is out of step with our country.
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) issued the following statement after Republican Leadership recessed the House of Representatives for seven weeks on Thursday without taking a single vote to address gun violence.
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-5), Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, today announced that Task Force member Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) will now serve on the Task Force as one of 13 Vice Chairs. The Vice Chairs and Thompson comprise the Task Force’s leadership team.
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-5), Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, today announced that Task Force member Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) will now serve on the Task Force as one of 13 Vice Chairs. The vice chairs and Thompson comprise the Task Force’s leadership team.
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-5), Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, today announced that Task Force member Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) will now serve on the Task Force as one of 13 Vice Chairs. The Vice Chairs and Thompson comprise the Task Force’s leadership team.
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-5) today released the following statement in response to the shootings in Dallas, Texas.
“Last night, a peaceful night was shattered by senseless violence when law enforcement officers were targeted and killed. We cannot allow this epidemic of gun violence to continue devastating our communities. We must come together as a nation to end this horrific violence. Our thoughts and prayers are with Dallas and the families of those who lost their lives.”
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Reps. Mike Thompson (CA-5), chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), vice-chair of the Task Force, and Peter King (R-NY) today led more than 110 of their bipartisan colleagues in calling on Speaker Paul Ryan and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to reject legislative language, or “riders”, that would block efforts to reduce and prevent gun violence in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 appropriations bills.
By the Press-Democrat Editorial Board
Politics, as the German statesman Otto Von Bismarck said, is the art of the possible.
Right now, it seems as if getting any sort of gun safety legislation through Congress is close to impossible.
Give credit to Rep. Mike Thompson for not giving up.