Robyn Thomas, executive director of Giffords Law Center, detailed how passing universal background checks is critical first step in addressing the gun violence crisis that killed 40,000 Americans in 2017
Thomas spoke at last House of Representatives hearing in 2007 where a gun violence prevention bill was considered and eventually approved by Congress
February 6, 2019 — Earlier today, Robyn Thomas, Executive Director of Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and a preeminent expert on firearms policy and litigation, testified before the House Judiciary Committee on a variety of gun safety issues, and urged committee members to move swiftly to pass H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019.
“When I last testified before Congress, twelve years ago, I said that loopholes in gun laws put Americans live at risk. Since that moment, more than 390,000 people have died from gun violence,” said Robyn Thomas, Executive Director of Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, at the House Judiciary Committee hearing today. “Some of these shootings made national headlines but far too many tragedies do not. I call on you to remember the nearly 100 Americans that are lost everyday to this epidemic. I call on you to take the critical first step to pass universal background checks and make progress to address this public safety threat. It’s time to make it the law that when you buy a gun, you get a background check. The only thing that stands in the way of saving lives is political will. It’s time to find that courage and act on this life-or-death issue.”
House Speaker Pelosi and Chairman of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Mike Thompson introduced the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 (H.R. 8) with former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the opening days of the 116th Congress.
Because the gun violence crisis led to the highest rates of deaths from firearms in decades, Thomas and other witnesses at the hearing today detailed why Congress must also make progress on a number of other solutions to address the crisis. Other policy priorities discussed during the hearing can be found in a policy memo for the 116th Congress. Thomas’s testimony was the first time she appeared before Congress since she testified in support of gun violence prevention legislation on May 10, 2007. That hearing in the Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee was the last time gun safety legislation was considered and consequently voted on by the full Congress.
The gun death rate in America has reached its highest level in nearly 40 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that in 2017, nearly 40,000 Americans died from gun violence, more than 100 Americans every day.
In the last year, millions of Americans across the country participated in gun safety marches, organized school walkouts, and attended town halls to call on elected leaders to strengthen America’s gun laws. Those actions led to the election of a new gun safety majority in the House. After years of silence in the House of Representatives, this hearing, held in the first weeks of the new Congress, is a signal that the Democratic majority is listening to the demands of voters and is committed to passing solutions to make the country safer.
As the new Congress is considering legislation, Giffords is pushing for immediate progress on two key gun safety priorities: passing background checks for every gun sale and funding Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research into the country’s epidemic of gun violence.
Speak With an Expert
Gun violence prevention experts from the Giffords Law Center, including Robyn Thomas, are available to speak with the press. To arrange an interview, email Jason Phelps at JPhelps@Giffords.org.