Thompson, Task Force Urge Committees to Hold Hearings on Gun Violence Prevention
Washington – Today Chairman of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) announced that he and other Vice Chairs of the Task Force have asked each incoming committee chair to holding hearings on gun violence issues of jurisdiction to their committee.
“The American people want Congress to do everything in its power to address gun violence and the new majority will take action. That’s why the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force called on all the incoming committee chairs to hold hearings to address issues of gun violence pertinent to their committee work, from public health to funding for research to school safety. We can and we will work to keep our communities safe from gun violence.”
A summary of the request made to each incoming committee chair is below. The letters were signed by Chairman Thompson and Vice Chairs David N. Cicilline (RI-01), Val Demings (FL-10), Elizabeth Esty (CT-05), Robin Kelly (IL-02), Grace Napolitano (CA-32), Ed Perlmutter (CO-07), David Price (NC-04), Kathleen Rice (NY-04), and Bobby Scott (VA-03).
Committee on Agriculture: The Committee represents and serves the diverse agricultural sectors. You know as well as anyone that the tradition of responsible rural gun ownership is the story of our Nation. From safe storage to training and education, rural gun owners have been at the forefront. Hearing from responsible gun owners about their support for commonsense legislative reforms will be key to building our coalition.
Committee on Appropriations: Democrats on the Committee on Appropriations have long fought to provide resources to the Centers for Disease Control to study gun violence. As hearings are held on the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations bill, the critical CDC funding should be at the top of the list for consideration. The Committee on Appropriations should also conduct hearings to assess current funding needs for programs designed to address all different aspects of gun violence in the U.S., including community-based violence intervention programs to suicide prevention and education initiatives.
Committee on Armed Services: Mental health screenings before enlistment and at the end of service can be an effective tool to identify who are mentally fit to handle a firearm. Presently, these screenings are insufficient and resources scarce. Congress should look at ways that we can ensure that guns are kept out of the hands of people who should not have them.
Committee on Budget: Gun violence is estimated to cost the American economy at least $229 billion every year, including $8.6 billion in direct emergency and medical care. Congress must look at budget priorities and how funding can be made available to necessary programs and agencies. We can’t come at this issue of gun violence piecemeal. We need an organized approach across all budget categories to identify where we can make smart investments to reduce gun violence that will save lives and offer long term cost savings. The Committee on Budget is uniquely situated to do so.
Committee on Education and Labor: In 2018, there have been at least 82 incidents of gunfire on school grounds. The Administration’s response has been to propose arming teachers. Any consideration of gun violence must look at how we keep students, teachers, and staff safe. In addition, the Committee may also consider examining the role that therapists and mental health specialists in schools, as well as the shortage of mental health professionals nationwide, as part of its comprehensive look into the issue.
Committee on Energy and Commerce: Gun violence is a public health crisis. Health professionals are coming together to demand reform and to bring their unique perspective to confronting the trauma of gun violence every day. Hearing from these professionals about their daily interactions with survivors and victims would be invaluable. In addition, as part of its consumer safety agenda, the Committee might consider looking into Consumer Product Safety Commission regulations, including smart gun technologies.
Committee on Financial Service: Banks and companies across the country are cutting ties with the gun lobby and manufacturers. They have found that the gun lobby is not important to their bottom lines and that they can play a role in ending gun violence. In addition, corporate leaders are taking a stand and finding innovative ways to change the conversation and could be a valuable resource on the topic.
Committee on Foreign Affairs: This Administration is looking for any way it can to loosen gun regulations, including moving certain responsibilities from the Department of State to the Department of Commerce and other agencies. Overturning such longstanding policy is a gift to manufacturers and does nothing to make the world safer from gun violence. Any effort to weaken regulations on international sales and exports requires close Congressional attention and oversight.
Committee on Homeland Security: Public gatherings large and small have become a target of mass shooters and domestic terrorists. Sadly, ensuring that public events are secure against these threats is part of our way of life now. There are a number of methods to reduce the window of opportunity for a shooter and respond effectively. Unfortunately, gun violence is now a major homeland security issue and we ask the Committee to hold a hearing.
Committee on Judiciary: As the committee with the largest jurisdiction, we look forward to working with Chairman Nadler to address a wide range of issues, including universal background checks, gun violence restraining orders, trafficking, domestic violence, ATF reform, assault weapons and magazine size, and other issues important to our Task Force members.
Committee on Natural Resources: Incidents like the Bundy takeover show how extremists are using public lands to promote and grow anti-government movements. Bundy is not unique in this action; it is taking place on public lands across the country. Heavily armed militia do damage to public lands and prevent others from using them. This is just one issue of many the Committee might want to examine.
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: Investigations have shown there are strong ties between the gun lobby and Russian agents who interfered in our elections. This partnership to undermine our democracy while also pushing an extremist gun agenda deserves a thorough investigation by your esteemed investigative team.
Committee on Science, Space and Technology: Firearm technology is advancing at a faster pace than policy. From 3-D printing to smart technology to online apps, technology is changing the way guns are sold and used. It is time Congress start more closely examining these trends and technologies and your Committee is uniquely positioned to do so.
Committee on Small Business: Gun violence is an economic issue. Studies have found that an increase in gun violence in neighborhoods can lower the number of businesses and jobs created. This factor is too often ignored, and small business owners and their employees will continue to suffer until this crisis is addressed. Your Committee is uniquely suited to take this issue on.
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure: Many states with the strongest gun laws still see high numbers of gun deaths. Criminals are using what is called the “Iron Pipeline,” to traffic guns from states with weak gun laws. Our transportation systems should not be used to undermine our gun laws and we ask that the Committee consider investigating how our infrastructure is being used to skirt state laws and traffic firearms.
Committee on Veterans Affairs: Every day, more than 20 veterans commit suicide, a majority of those do so with a gun. The intersection of gun-related suicides and the veterans’ community urgently needs attention. There are successful programs and innovative proposals that could save the lives of our Nation’s heroes.
Committee on Ways and Means: Though mental health is not the leading cause of gun violence we cannot afford to ignore the role it plays. Access to quality, affordable health care can help to reduce the more than 60 suicides by gun that happen every day in America. As part of a robust health care agenda, we ask the Committee to keep the crossroads of guns and mental health on the agenda, including debunking cultural stereotypes about mental health and gun violence.