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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

Nov 8, 2018 Press Release

Washington – Today Chairman of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Mike Thompson (CA-05) released the following statement after the tragic mass shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California.

“Yet again, a nation stands horrified at a mass shooting. Young people trying to enjoy a night of music and friendship were gunned down and a Sheriff’s Sergeant lost his life trying to keep his community safe. My heart is broken and mourning those lives lost and those lives that will never be the same.

Mar 16, 2018 Press Release

Washington – Today Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) announced that he and a record 182 members of Congress from both parties are requesting $75 million in federal funding for the National Instant Criminal Background Check Systems (NICS).

Mar 12, 2018 Press Release

Washington – Today, Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05), chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, condemned the President’s recently-released gun proposals, releasing the following statement.

“As we feared, the President has cowed to the NRA, turning his back on the millions of Americans who have already suffered from gun violence and the many who are vulnerable,” said Thompson. “People across our nation are calling for meaningful action and the White House is merely feigning in order to appease their base.”

Mar 1, 2018 Press Release

Washington – Today Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) announced that he now has 200 co-sponsors from both parties for his bipartisan Thompson-King Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act, a bill that would give states resources to help them submit information to the background checks system. The bill would also expand the system to cover all commercial firearm sales, closing gun show, internet, and classified ad loopholes.

Feb 27, 2018 Press Release

Washington – Today, Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05), chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, offered a resolution to force a vote on the bipartisan H.R. 4240, the Thompson-King Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act, and H.R. 3464, the Background Checks Completion Act of 2017. H.R. 4240 provides resources to help states strengthen and expand the background checks system and closes a number of gun sale loopholes. H.R. 3464 prohibits licensed gun dealers from selling guns to buyers without licenses without completing a background check.

Dec 6, 2017 Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Chairman of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Mike Thompson (CA-05) issued this statement following House passage of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017:

“Today, just weeks after two of the deadliest mass shootings in modern American history, the House passed legislation that could exacerbate the gun violence epidemic in our country.

Nov 6, 2017 Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-05) released this statement following the President’s remarks about Sunday’s mass shooting at a Texas church:

Nov 3, 2017 Press Release

Washington, DC – Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Peter King (R-NY) today introduced H.R. 4240, the bipartisan Thompson-King background check legislation, officially known as the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act of 2017. The bill, 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.

Oct 26, 2017 Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Congressmen Mike Thompson (CA-05), Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, and Ed Perlmutter (CO-07), Vice-Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, introduced H.R. 4142, the Safer Communities Act of 2017, legislation aimed at reducing and preventing gun violence by keeping guns away from people who should not have them.

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.