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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

May 3, 2017 Press Release

Washington – Today, Mike Thompson (CA-05), Chairman of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, joined Fmr. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, lawmakers, and activists to demand action from Congress. Despite horrific mass shootings like those in Tucson, Sandy Hook, and Orlando, Congress has failed to pass a single bill aimed at reducing gun violence. Recently, Republicans and the President have actually taken steps to weaken the background check system and make it easier for criminals to buy firearms.

Apr 4, 2017 Press Release
Washington – Today, Reps. Mike Thompson (CA-05) and Pete King (NY-02) led 167 bipartisan Members of Congress in calling on appropriators to provide funds to strengthen our criminal background check system. Thompson and King requested funding to implement the National Instant Background Checks Systems (NICS) Improvement Amendments Act, which gives grants to states seeking to upgrade their electronic databases.
Feb 28, 2017 Event

Washington – On Tuesday, February 28th at 11:00 AM, Chairman Mike Thompson (CA-05) of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force will hold a press conference with House Democrats, law enforcement officers, and first responders on Republican Proposals to Undermine Public Safety.

Feb 28, 2017 News Articles

California Democrats chose their guests for President Trump's speech to make pointed criticisms of the new administration's policies. Among those sitting in the House gallery as the speech began were immigrants in the country without authorization, people who benefited from President Obama’s healthcare overhaul and refugees affected by Trump's travel ban.

Feb 28, 2017 News Articles

House Democrats are pushing back against GOP attempts to loosen the nation’s gun laws.

Republican proposals to allow law-abiding gun owners to carry their firearms out of state and allow hunters to use sound suppressors are “terribly alarming,” Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) said Tuesday at a press conference.

Democrats are rallying to defeat these efforts on Capitol Hill. The legislation is almost certain to pass in the House, but they might stand a chance in the Senate, where Democrats can block a vote on the bills.

Feb 24, 2017 Press Release

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.

Feb 3, 2017 News Articles

WASHINGTON —The House of Representatives approved its first effort of the new Congress to roll back gun regulations, voting to overturn a rule that would bar gun ownership by some who have been deemed mentally impaired by the Social Security Administration.

The House voted 235-180 largely along party lines Thursday to repeal an Obama-era rule requiring the Social Security Administration to send records of some beneficiaries to the federal firearms background check system after they’ve been deemed mentally incapable of managing their financial affairs.

Feb 3, 2017 News Articles

A resolution overwhelmingly approved by House Republicans will weaken federal gun control laws aimed at preventing mentally ill people from purchasing firearms, Rep. Mike Thompson said Friday.

The House action would permanently revoke an Obama administration rule requiring the Social Security Administration to report the names of people with severe mental illness to the federal gun-buying background checks system.

Feb 2, 2017 Press Release

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).

Jan 31, 2017 Press Release

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.