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Congressman Mike Thompson

Representing the 5th District of CALIFORNIA

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

Oct 8, 2015 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-5), Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, today introduced a resolution to establish a Select Committee of the House to study gun violence. The committee would be comprised of six Republicans and six Democrats. It would issue a final report and recommendations, including legislative proposals within 60 days of its establishment.

Oct 2, 2015 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-5), Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, today called on Congressional Republicans to act on commonsense gun violence prevention laws in the aftermath of another mass shooting, this time at Umpqua Community College (UCC) in Roseberg, Oregon.

Jul 24, 2015 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-5), chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force released the following statement in response to the mass shooting in a Lafayette, Louisiana movie theater.

“The news of another mass shooting in our country is both heartbreaking and tragic. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and the people of Louisiana. This is a time to mourn those whose lives were lost and to do all we can to help the people of Lafayette heal.

Jul 23, 2015 News Articles

Rep. Mike Thompson, who represents Benicia in the U.S. House, has started a new website that explains his bipartisan Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act and gives people a chance to comment on the bill.

“I want to make sure the public has easy access to the facts about my background check bill and (want) people to have the opportunity to provide thoughtful and constructive feedback,” Thompson, a Napa Democrat, said in a news release.

Jul 22, 2015 Press Release

Washington, D.C. – A new webpage, http://mikethompson.house.gov/backgroundchecks, provides the public with easy and open access to get the facts, read the bill and provide feedback on U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson’s (CA-5) bipartisan legislation to expand the existing background check system to cover all commercial firearm sales, including those at gun shows, over the internet or in classified ads.

Jul 22, 2015 News Articles

In the wake of deadly mass shootings in Charleston, S.C., and Chattanooga, Tenn., the nation finds itself once again debating whether and how to further limit access to firearms. Unfortunately, meaningful change is unlikely in a Congress where fealty to the NRA and its ridiculous drive for a fully armed America outweighs politicians' commitments to the safety of the people who elected them. Still, we must continue to push the boulder up the hill and urge Congress to approve two common-sense bills to expand and make existing laws more effective.

Jul 10, 2015 News Articles

Three Democratic legislators proposed a bill Thursday that would tighten control over firearm sales to keep guns away from the mentally unstable.

Rep. Mike Thompson, chairman of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, along with Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., introduced the Safer Communities Act of 2015, which "prohibits the purchase or possession of a firearm by individuals subject to involuntary outpatient commitment" if the courts deem them to "pose a danger to themselves or others."

Jul 9, 2015 Press Release

WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), vice-chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force today introduced the Safer Communities Act of 2015 (H.R. 2994), legislation aimed at reducing and preventing gun violence by keeping guns away from people who should not have them.

Jul 9, 2015 News Articles

Relatives and friends of the victims of last month's shooting in a Charleston, South Carolina church traveled to Washington on Wednesday to demand that US lawmakers vote on legislation to expand background checks on gun sales.

But their chances of success are at best considered slim. Similar legislation failed a Senate vote two years ago after 20 children were shot to death in the Sandy Hook school massacre in Connecticut.

Jul 9, 2015 News Articles

Democrats are renewing efforts to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill after a string of recent mass shootings.

The Safer Communities Act, introduced Thursday by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), would temporarily prohibit people who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health institution from purchasing or possessing a gun.