After passing landmark bills earlier this year, House Judiciary Committee moves to advance more policies that could save lives
While the House continues to make progress, Senate remains silent on consideration of H.R. 8
September 10, 2019 — As pressure mounts for the Senate to consider H.R. 8, the bipartisan background checks bill passed over six months ago by the House of Representatives, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, leader of the gun violence prevention organization Giffords, applauded the House majority for continuing to make gun safety a priority and demanded Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump follow suit.
Beginning this afternoon, the House Judiciary Committee will markup a number of bills to address America’s ongoing gun violence crisis. Those being considered include legislation to expand extreme risk laws, a bill to limit large capacity magazines, and a bill to prevent people who have been convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime from owning a gun. The action comes as the country continues to suffer from daily gun violence and a month of deadly mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio; and Midland, Odessa, and El Paso, Texas.
Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords:
“For too long, Americans have suffered from the horrific public safety threat of gun violence. But the politics are changing: Leaders in the House who ran on gun safety are actually voting to make our country a safer place to live, work, study, worship, and play. This week they are not slowing down — continuing to work to address this crisis that’s costing American lives every single day. The actions of this week stand in sharp contrast to the Senate.
“So far the Senate Majority and the President remain in lockstep with NRA leadership — not the American people. The only thing Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump have to offer are empty words. It’s time for them to listen to the majority of American people — Democrats, Republicans, and gun owners — who are demanding action from their elected officials.”
Before today’s markup, the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force will host a forum on the urgent need for Senate action on bipartisan House-passed gun safety legislation. The Task Force, chaired by Congressman Mike Thompson, will hear from several expert witnesses. These witnesses include Vic Bencomo from Colorado Gun Owners for Safety, a coalition of hunters, sport shooters, and collectors who advocate for commonsense gun violence prevention laws and promote safe and responsible gun ownership.
Senate Majority Leader McConnell has not yet committed to any debate on gun bill votes without direction from the president. In recent weeks, Giffords launched an ad campaign and travelled to key states, building on former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ call to action, in which she demanded the Senate come back from August recess to take action on gun laws: “President Donald Trump and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must call the Senate back from August recess immediately. We cannot afford to wait another day for lawmakers to address this horrific national public safety threat.” In the hours and days that followed, other leaders echoed Gabby’s call for the Senate to return from recess, including many of the Democratic presidential candidates.
The Democratic House majority’s gun safety accomplishments include:
Strengthening background checks. 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.
Keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and stalkers. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act successfully passed the House with significant bipartisan support and for the first time ever included new provisions to close the boyfriend and stalker loopholes that have allowed abusers to obtain firearms.
Funding gun violence research. The House approved new funding for gun violence research for the first time in over two decades. The research funding was included in the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Fiscal Year 2020 bill passed by the House in June and directs $50 million for research dedicated to addressing America’s gun violence crisis.
Blocking efforts to loosen regulations of firearms exports. The House passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act which would block the Trump Administration’s dangerous proposal to weaken the oversight of firearms exports.
Prioritizing conversations about gun violence. Committee chairs in the House of Representatives have already held several hearings where gun safety was the primary focus. More committee hearings are expected in the coming weeks, including a hearing from the Early Childhood, Elementary & Secondary Education Subcommittee of the House Education & Labor Committee examining trauma-informed practices to assist students impacted by gun violence.