Gun Violence Prevention
As a lifelong hunter and gun owner, I believe in a law-abiding individual’s right to own a firearm. I also know we have a responsibility to help keep our schools, streets and communities safe. The gun debate isn’t a choice between reducing violence and protecting the Second Amendment. It’s about the willingness of a responsible majority to do both.
In 2012, then-Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi appointed me Chairman of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. This group, consisting of more than 170 Members of Congress, is devoted to finding commonsense solutions to our nation’s ongoing gun violence epidemic.
Following my appointment as Chairman, I held a series of open town halls on some of the actions Congress could take to address gun violence. Hundreds attended these meetings. I heard views from law enforcement officials, mental health experts, school officials, NRA leadership and gun violence prevention advocates. Many feared their Second Amendment rights would come under attack. Others wanted to cast these rights aside. I believe both views are too extreme. I’ll never give up my guns and I’ll never ask law-abiding Americans who have no history of mental illness to give up theirs. Not only am I personally against this, but the Constitution forbids it.
The Supreme Court affirmed in District of Columbia v. Heller that Americans have a right to keep and bear arms. However, just as the First Amendment protects free speech while prohibiting incitements to violence, the Second Amendment also has limits. In Heller, the Court upheld laws against firearms in places like schools and laws against felons or the mentally ill carrying guns. This ruling provides folks on both sides an opportunity to pass gun violence prevention legislation while working inside the confines of the Second Amendment.
As a gun owner, I take seriously my obligation to ensure firearms are owned and used responsibly. That’s why I introduced H.R. 8, my bipartisan bill to expand background checks to cover all sales and most transfers. Our background check system works. Every year, background checks stop 88,000 gun sales to criminals, domestic abusers, individuals with dangerous mental illnesses or other prohibited purchasers. However, in some states, those same individuals can buy identical guns at a gun show, over the internet or through a newspaper ad without any questions asked. H.R. 8 would close this loophole, greatly reducing the number of places criminals and the dangerously mentally ill can acquire a firearm.
Tens of thousands of lives have been lost in more than 1,600 mass shootings since Sandy Hook and 90 people die every day in occurrences of gun violence across our country. Please know I’m committed to offering the victims and survivors of this violence more than thoughts and prayers. I was immensely proud when H.R. 8 passed the House of Representatives on February 27, 2019 with 240 votes, including 8 Republicans. I look forward to my legislation’s full and fair consideration in the Senate and I’ll continue working with my Senate colleagues to enact H.R. 8 into law.
More on Gun Violence Prevention
Washington – Today Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Chairman Mike Thompson (CA-05) announced that a record 196 Members of Congress have signed his letter to Appropriators requesting $100 million to fund the National Instant Background Checks System (NICS). Funding will allow states to update their databases and improve communication between states and the NICS system. A copy of the letter is below and a signed version is attached.
March 13, 2020
Washington – Today Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Chairman Mike Thompson (CA-05) marked one year since the House passed H.R. 8, his Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019. This legislation would expand background checks and is widely agreed to be the quickest and most effective legislation to help prevent gun violence. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not given the bill a vote in the Senate, despite widespread and bipartisan support. A statement from Thompson is below.
Washington – Today Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Chairman Mike Thompson (CA-05) put out the following statement on the deadly shooting in Milwaukee that killed at least six and injured others.
“Heartbreaking news out of Milwaukee. Jan and I are mourning for the families and loved ones of those killed and injured, and for the community forever changed. As we prepare to mark one year since the passage of H.R. 8, this is a tragic reminder of the real impact this violence has and that we must fight to get this bill signed into law.”
Washington – Today Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Chairman Mike Thompson (CA-05) marked one year since the introduction of H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019. The bill was introduced eight years to the day after then Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, her staff and her constituents were shot at a community event in her district. Upon passage with bipartisan support in February 2019, the Chairman’s legislation was the first major action to help prevent gun violence in a generation.
Washington – Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Chairman Mike Thompson (CA-05) applauded House and Senate negotiators for including in the spending deal $25 million for research into our nation’s gun violence epidemic and $78 million in federal funding for the National Instant Background Checks System (NICS). This is the first time Congress has funded gun violence research in over 20 years and is $3 million more in NICS funding than was provided for in last year’s budget. A vote on this deal with this funding included is set to happen later this week.
Washington – Today Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Chairman Mike Thompson (CA-05) released the following statement after a shooting in Fresno, California at a family event that killed four and injured at least six others.
“Another family tragically altered forever, and another community ripped apart by gun violence, this time in Fresno, California. My heart is broken for those killed and those forever changed by this senseless act and I am grateful for the first responders who rushed toward danger to help those hurt.
Washington – Today Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Chairman Mike Thompson (CA-05) released the following statement after a shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California.
Washington – Today Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Chairman Mike Thompson (CA-05) wrote to the President asking that he call on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to hold a vote immediately on H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, and H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act. Both of these bipartisan bills were passed by the House and have been blocked for a vote by McConnell for 175 days. A copy of Thompson’s letter is below.
Washington – Today Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Chairman Mike Thompson (CA-05) and the Task Force’s leadership wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urging him to meet with them to discuss Senate consideration of H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Check Act of 2019, and H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019. Both bills passed the House with a strong bipartisan vote and have overwhelming support with the American public.
Washington – Today Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Chairman Mike Thompson (CA-05) and 213 Members of the House Democratic Caucus wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell demanding he immediately call the Senate back into session to pass H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, and H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act. Both these bipartisan bills were passed by the House in February of this year and have been blocked for a vote by McConnell for more than 160 days.