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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 5, 2017 Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-05), Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, led a letter to the President urging him to take action to prohibit “bump stocks,” the accessory that allowed the Las Vegas shooter’s semi-automatic weapons to function as fully automatic weapons. The letter was co-signed by the 13 vice-chairs of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.

Oct 4, 2017 Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-05), Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, led a letter to the President asking him to meet with the Task Force to discuss how to protect Americans from gun violence while also protecting individuals’ Second Amendment right. The letter is co-signed by the 96 members of the Task Force.

Oct 2, 2017 Press Release

Washington – Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05), Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, issued this statement following the tragic shooting near the Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas that claimed 58 lives and injured more than 500:

“Today, the nation woke up to an unimaginable horror.  In an act of violence unlike any we have ever seen before, one gunman killed at least 58 people and injured 515. This is the deadliest shooting in our history. Families have lost loved ones and the wounded will face a lifetime of physical and mental health effects.

Sep 13, 2017 Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Representative Mike Thompson (CA-05), Chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and two-time co-chair of the Congressional Sportsman's Caucus, issued the following statement on the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act, following a markup on the legislation:

Jun 14, 2017 Press Release

Washington – In the wake of the shooting at today’s Congressional baseball practice and subsequent threats that have emerged online, Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) issued the following statement:

“Hatred has no place in our politics. Violence is not the way we settle our differences. Today’s attack on Members of Congress was cowardly and inexcusable, and threats and statements that appeared afterwards on social media are inflammatory and counterproductive. We are better than this.

Jun 14, 2017 Press Release

Washington – Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) released the following statement after a gunman opened fire on Republican Members of Congress, their staff, and Capitol Police who were practicing for the Congressional Baseball Game:

Jun 12, 2017 Press Release

Washington – Today, Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05)—Chairman of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force—made the following statement to mark the one year anniversary of the shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub.

Jun 2, 2017 Press Release

Washington – Today, Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05)—Chairman of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force—released the following statement on National Gun Violence Awareness Day:

“Every day, another family mourns the loss of a child, a sibling, a parent, or a friend because of gun violence. As a country, we’ve grieved for those lost in the tragedies of Newtown, Aurora, Tucson, Orlando, and too many other communities. And through it all, Congress has turned a blind eye.

May 25, 2017 Press Release

Washington – Today, Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05)—Chairman of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force—led 134 Members of Congress in calling for the establishment of a Select Committee on Gun Violence. This bipartisan committee would be comprised of six Democrats and six Republicans, all tasked with studying the causes of mass shootings, rates of gun violence in large metropolitan issues, the effect of gun violence on public health, and other critical topics.

May 24, 2017 Press Release

Washington – As the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations begins work on its bills for Fiscal Year 2018, Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05)—Chairman of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force—led 120 bipartisan Members of Congress demanding that important funding bills be free from harmful gun language, or “riders.” In previous years, gun riders on appropriations bills have had serious consequences and hindered gun violence prevention. The Dickey amendment, for example, has had a chilling effect on the studying of gun violence in America.