Press Release

Giffords Renews Call for Universal Background Checks in the Wake of Newest Developments in Texas Mass Shooting

Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, responded to the news that local law enforcement in Texas served a search warrant in connection to the Midland/Odessa shooting. The investigation centers around an individual manufacturing and trafficking in AR-15 assault rifles without the necessary federal license.

David Chipman, Giffords Senior Policy Advisor and Former ATF Special Agent:

“Loopholes in our background checks system allow unscrupulous gun dealers and traffickers to operate in the shadows. That has deadly consequences for the safety of our communities and law enforcement officers sworn to protect us. The Odessa and Midland mass shooter failed a background check in the past, but knew he could still get an assault rifle no questions asked by finding a willing trafficker online. It’s never been more clear what we need to do. We can and must stop mass shooters and other gun offenders from accessing firearms by ensuring a background check takes place every time a gun is sold. It’s time for the President and Leader McConnell to listen to the calls from the American people for action to save lives.”

On Saturday, August 31, a gunman opened fire on multiple locations in Odessa and Midland, Texas, killing seven and injuring at least 22. Just four weeks prior, Texas was the home to another horrific mass shooting in El Paso, where a shooter motivated by racism killed 22 people in a Walmart. Throughout the state, someone is killed by a gun every three hours.

In Odessa and Midland, the shooter had previously failed a criminal background check when trying to purchase a gun due to mental health reasons. Yet loopholes in our nation’s gun laws allowed him to bypass the background check system altogether and obtain the AR-style weapon used in his deadly assault from an unlicensed seller who wasn’t required to run a background check.

Throughout the August congressional recess, Giffords has run ad campaigns and rallied in states like Colorado and Texas to put pressure on the Senate to hold a vote on H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019.

Background on Giffords Efforts to Pass H.R. 8

H.R. 8 was introduced on January 8th, which also marked the eighth anniversary of the Tucson shooting. Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords joined Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Thompson for a press conference on Capitol Hill to unveil the legislation. In the week after its introduction, Giffords elevated the voices of Americans demanding action by teaming up with March for Our Lives, Town Hall Project, TOMS, and Levi’s to host a nationwide series of Gun Safety Town Halls rallying support for universal background checks.

Giffords Law Center Executive Director Robyn Thomas testified before the House Judiciary Committee urging swift passage of H.R. 8. She also spoke at the last gun violence prevention hearing held in the House over a decade ago.

The Giffords Law Enforcement Coalition sent a letter to congressional leadership urging them to pass the lifesaving legislation. Signed by 15 law enforcement leaders from across the country, the letter illustrated the urgent need to close loopholes in America’s background checks system that endanger communities, including the thousands of law enforcement officials who put their lives on the line every day for our public safety.

Members of the Giffords Veterans Coalition sent a letter to congressional leadership highlighting the fact that horrific mass shootings and the daily toll of gun violence have left Americans feeling less safe and called on Congress to close loopholes in the country’s background check system that leave communities in danger. These 13 top veteran military leaders point out why immediate action is needed as the gun death rate in America has reached its highest level in nearly 40 years.

On February 27, the House passed H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, to require a background check on every gun sale or transfer. A day later they cleared H.R. 1112, The Enhanced Background Checks Act, to provide the FBI additional time to complete background checks and prevent prohibited people from obtaining guns. Leader McConnell has since blocked the passage of H.R. 8, refusing to bring any proposals from the other chamber up for debate or consideration.