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, DC – U.S. Reps. Mike Thompson (D-CA), chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), vice-chair of the task force today led more than 100 of their bipartisan colleagues in calling on House Speaker John Boehner and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to not include legislative language, or “riders” that would block efforts to reduce and prevent gun violence in Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 appropriations bills.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Reps. Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) today led 125 of their colleagues in calling on appropriators to provide funds to strengthen the National Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
Washington, DC – A coalition of U.S. House members today introduced H.R. 1217, the bipartisan King-Thompson background check legislation, officially known as the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act of 2015. The bill, authored by U.S. Reps. Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Pete King (R-NY), expands the existing background check system to cover all commercial firearm sales, including those at gun shows, over the internet or in classified ads while providing reasonable exceptions for family and friend transfers. The King-Thompson bill was co-authored by Reps.
U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, has announce 11 vice chairpersons for the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force for the 114th Congress.
Thompson is Benicia’s representative in the House.
The 11, along with Thompson, will be the task force’s leadership team, he said.
“Our vice chairs have a wide range of expertise, come from different backgrounds, and will bring unique ideas to the table as we work to reduce and prevent gun violence while also protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” Thompson said.
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Mike Thompson, chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force (CA-5) today announced 11 vice chairs to serve on the task force in the 114th Congress. The vice chairs and Thompson will make up the task force’s leadership team.
House lawmakers are planning the largest funding increase for background checks on gun purchases.
The trillion-dollar "cromnibus" bill to fund the federal government would set aside $73 million to help states improve their record keeping systems, which aim to keep guns out of the hands of convicted criminals and the dangerously mentally ill.
States can apply for grants to “upgrade criminal and mental health records,” which are stored in the federal database and checked by federally licensed gun dealers during all in-store purchases.
WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-5), chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, released a statement today on the $73 million included in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 omnibus appropriations bill (H.R. 83) to strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
As mass shootings continue at an alarming rate, any helpful legislation is welcomed with open arms. On Capitol Hill, one such measure, proposed by U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, a gun owner himself and Chairman of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, would allow police to obtain gun removal warrants from judges whenever someone is having a mental health crisis and is deemed a danger to himself or others.
WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-5), chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, released the following statement on today’s Quinnipiac University Poll that found 92 percent of American voters, including 92 percent of gun owners, support requiring background checks on all gun purchases. The poll also showed 86 percent of Republicans support background checks.
Deadly mass shootings occur with such alarming regularity that the public can be forgiven for believing there's no way to prevent them.
But lawmakers and experts concerned with the connections between mental illness and violence insist that solutions exist.
And, they say, many of them can be found in California, where laws on the books are credited with reducing the gun death rate 56 percent in the past two decades, according to data compiled by San Francisco's Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.