Gabby Giffords & Capt. Mark Kelly Stand with Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers to Urge Congress to Act on Background Checks Bill

March 24, 2015 – Standing with a bipartisan group of lawmakers today at the United States Capitol, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and retired Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, the Co-Founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions, urged Congress to act on newly re-introduced legislation that would close loopholes in federal gun laws that let dangerous people buy guns without a background check.

The bill, the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act of 2015, is co-sponsored by four House Republican and four House Democrats.

Congresswoman Giffords and Capt. Kelly were joined at a press conference today by several of the bill’s co-sponsors, including Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA); Congressman Robert Dold (R-IL); Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (D-CT); and Congresswoman Kathleen Rice (D-NY).

“Stopping gun violence takes courage. Now is the time to come together – to be responsible. Democrats, Republicans, everyone,” said former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Co-Founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions, in her remarks. “We must never stop fighting.”

“We have a gun violence problem in the United States, and law-abiding, responsible gun owners are not the problem. Guns themselves aren’t to blame, either. The problem is that we have weak laws that let dangerous people get their hands on guns. That’s why Congress must act on this bipartisan bill to close the loopholes that let people buy a gun without a background check,” said retired Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, Co-Founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions. “The vast majority of Americans agree that Congress must close these loopholes. And like Gabby and me, so do the majority of America’s gun owners. Congress must come together and act.”

The bipartisan legislation would protect Americans’ Second Amendment rights and make communities safer from gun violence by:

1.) Expanding Background Checks. The bill would require licensed dealers to conduct background checks for commercial-style sales, including on the internet and at gun shows, that are not currently required under federal law. Transfers between family members and friends are exempted and would not be affected. The bill explicitly bans the federal government from creating a federal registry and creates new penalties for the misuse of records.

2.) Strengthening the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS): The bill would reauthorize the National Criminal History Records Improvement Program (NCHIP) at $100,000,000 for FY16-FY19. This program has been successful in providing states with the resources to improve their criminal history record systems. The bill would also incentivize states to improve their reporting by eliminating unnecessary responsibilities for states and directing future grant money towards creating systems to send records to NICS. The bill would reduce funding for states that don’t comply; and,

3.) Establishing a National Commission on Mass Violence. The bill would set up a 12-person commission to study the availability of firearms, the connection between mental health and firearms and incidents of mass violence to understand and prevent further acts of mass violence.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Peter King (R-NY). The bipartisan group of lawmakers co-sponsoring the bill include:

  • Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA)
  • Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA)
  • Rep. Robert Dold (R-IL)
  • Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA)
  • Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT)
  • Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY)
  • Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS)