Menendez Stands Up Again for Sensible Measures to Reduce Gun Violence

Menendez Stands Up Again for Sensible Measures to Reduce Gun Violence

WASHINGTON, DC – In the wake of the 355th mass shooting this year, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) voted in favor of amendments to the budget reconciliation legislation to prevent individuals on the terror watchlist from purchasing guns and explosives, close a loophole that allows individuals to purchase guns before a background check is completed, and strengthen treatment for mental health and substance abuse. The measures were blocked by Republicans. 

Menendez said:

“In the last 24 hours we’ve seen dozens of politicians offered their ‘thoughts and prayers’ in response to the San Bernardino tragedy. While my heart breaks for the victims and their families, we need less talk and more action from those of us in Washington. As of today, there have been more mass shootings than there have been days in the year. Let’s stop pretending that this level of carnage is something we must live with. Let’s stop pretending this is inevitable. And let’s stop just pretending we can’t do anything about it. 

“While we may never understand what brings individuals to commit such evil acts, there’s one thing we know for sure:  It is too easy for an individual who wants to kill to get their hands on the assault weapons to do so.  Can’t we at least take sensible steps to make it harder? 

“Today, we once again put forth common sense measures to reduce gun violence -- closing the loophole that allows people to buy guns without first passing a background check, giving the Attorney General the authority to deny firearms to individuals on the Terrorist Watch List and strengthening treatment for mental illness and substance abuse.  

“And once again, Republicans said no.  

“The American people want us to do something to stop gun violence.  Condolences and prayers are meaningless without action on common sense measures to keep our families and communities safe.”

The amendments included:

Closing Background Check Loopholes that allow people to purchase guns without having first passed a background check.  Under current law, guns can be sold over the internet and at gun shows without any background checks at all.

Preventing Those On Terror Watchlist From Purchasing Guns & Explosives by empowering the U.S. Attorney General to deny the transfer of firearms or the issuance of firearms and explosives licenses to suspected terrorists if it is reasonably believed those individuals may use firearms or explosives in connection with an act of terrorism, all while protecting legitimate gun owners’ rights to acquire guns or explosives.  Under current law, a member of a terrorist organization is not prohibited “possessing firearms or explosives” or from being able to purchase handguns or assault-style rifles.

Strengthening Treatment for Mental Illness and Substance Abuse Disorders  through Medicaid, commercial insurance, and state public health agencies. The amendment would hold Qualified Health Plan issuers on the exchanges accountable to stronger mental health parity and addiction equity standards, strengthen Medicaid coverage of services to prevent and treat mental illness and substance use disorders and create a substance use and Mental Health Capacity Fund to substantially increase funding over ten years for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant and the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant program.

Menendez has a long history of support for common sense gun safety measures. He is the Senate author of Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act which bans the importation, sale, manufacture, transfer, or possession of magazines that hold more than ten rounds of ammunition and are designed for shooting en masse. He is also a cosponsor of the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015 which would give the Attorney General the authority to deny firearms or explosives to suspected terrorists.

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, Menendez recently joined two groups of his Democratic colleagues in urging Congressional leadership and President Obama to take legislative and executive action to curb gun violence in the United States and keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous individuals.