Menendez, Warren Unveil Comprehensive Bicameral Legislation to Help End Epidemic of Gun Violence in America

Menendez, Warren Unveil Comprehensive Bicameral Legislation to Help End Epidemic of Gun Violence in America

Sweeping bill implements a series of commonsense reforms to address deadly crisis

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today joined Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in announcing the introduction of the Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act, which includes and builds upon Congressional Democrats’ strongest gun safety legislation in one bold, comprehensive bill that works to end the epidemic of gun violence in America.  The bill is cosponsored by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.).  Congressman Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) will introduce the House version of the bill.

The sweeping legislation contains the Help Empower Americans to Respond Act, Sen. Menendez’s bill to ban gun silencers, and key provisions of the Senator’s Keep Americans Safe Act to ban high-capacity magazines. 

“Too many lives are tragically lost at the hand of a gun on our streets, to suicide, and in mass shootings.  The American people are demanding Congress act to end the bloodshed and senseless death,” said Sen. Menendez.  “No one bill is going to solve the problem; it’s going to take a comprehensive, holistic approach.  That’s why I’m proud to cosponsor and contribute to the Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act, which addresses gun violence in all forms, treats it like the public health epidemic it is, and will save lives.” 

“This big, bold proposal—which combines and builds upon a number of common-sense measures introduced by my colleagues in Congress—would treat the epidemic of gun violence in the United States like the public health crisis that it is, help protect our children, and make our communities safer,” said Sen. Warren. “With approximately 100 Americans killed every day from gun violence, it’s long past time for Congress to stand up to the gun lobby and confront this deadly crisis head-on.”

"The Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act will save lives and make our country safer - without infringing on any law-abiding individual's right to own firearms. This comprehensive bill is a compilation of the best ideas to create a workable set of laws that will strengthen life-saving background checks, protect communities with bolstered enforcement, improve mental health services and fuel research to make guns safer,” said Rep. Johnson.  “It is time for Congress come together and end the epidemic of gun violence in this country once and for all."

Every day—in their homes and on their sidewalks, in their schools and supermarkets, in their places of worship and workplaces—Americans are killed or injured by gun violence. In 2017, gun violence claimed the lives of 39,773 people in the U.S.—the highest number of gun-related deaths since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began tracking the data in 1968.  According to Giffords, 100 people are killed with guns in the U.S. every single day, four of which are children or teens. This is a distinctly American crisis, with the U.S. having nearly half of the estimated 857 million civilian-owned guns in the world, and a gun homicide rate that is 25 times higher and a gun suicide rate that is ten times higher than that of other comparable countries. 

Federal law has failed to address this deadly epidemic.  Federal gun laws are rife with loopholes and contradictions, and have been severely weakened by the gun industry, which has worked to hamstring meaningful regulation, shield the gun industry from liability, and weaken the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)—the agency tasked with enforcing gun laws.

The Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act would help address this deadly crisis. The bill would: 

  • Create a federal gun licensing system and require a federal or state-issued firearms license to purchase or own a gun, and establish a grant program to help states set up their own systems.
  • Require universal background checks, close legal loopholes that allow individuals to skirt background check requirements, and require background check denials to be reported to law enforcement.
  • Keep guns out of the wrong hands by banning individuals who present safety risks from buying guns, establishing Extreme Risk Protection Order systems, and cracking down on gun theft. 
  • Ensure that guns are used and stored responsibly by raising the minimum age for all gun or ammunition purchases to 21, establishing a 7-day waiting period for the purchase of all guns, strengthening gun storage laws, and banning guns on all school campuses. 
  • Keep weapons of war off our streets by banning military-style assault weapons, lethal gun accessories, and untraceable and undetectable firearms.
  • Crack down on gun trafficking by banning bulk gun purchases and establishing a new law to specifically ban gun trafficking.
  • Improve oversight of gun dealers by strengthening ATF’s authority to inspect gun shops, enhancing record-keeping requirements for gun dealers, and repealing harmful appropriations riders that limit law enforcement’s ability to trace guns used in crimes, and hold gun dealers accountable when they break the law.
  • Hold the gun industry accountable by clarifying that gun manufacturers can be held liable for civil penalties for the harms their guns cause, authorizing the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to address safety defects in firearms and firearm accessories, and raising the excise tax on gun sales to 30% and ammunition sales to 50%.
  • Invest in research and community-based gun violence prevention by providing $100 million in annual funding for federal research into gun violence and creating a new grant program to provide $100 million per year for gun violence intervention programs.

Sen. Menendez has been leading the fight to pass commonsense legislation to end gun violence and save lives, and has cosponsored several measures incorporated in The Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act, including: the Background Check Completion ActAssault Weapons Ban of 2019,Background Check Expansion Act, Untraceable Firearms Act, Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act, Safe Gun Storage Act, Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act, Gun Violence Prevention Research Act, and inspection-related provisions based on the Keeping Gun Dealers Honest Act.

The legislation is endorsed by several leading public health and gun safety advocacy organizations, including: the American Public Health Association; Amnesty International USA; Futures Without Violence; Giffords; Guns Down America; Jewish Women International; March For Our Lives; NAACP; National Coalition Against Domestic Violence; Newtown Action Alliance; States United to Prevent Gun Violence; and Stop Handgun Violence. 

"Each year, over 36,000 people in the United States are killed with a gun, and hundreds of thousands more are injured. Gun violence has turned into an epidemic hurting communities in every part of our country,” said Robin Lloyd, Managing Director of Giffords. “A challenge of this magnitude can’t be solved with one policy alone. It requires a comprehensive solution, where we address gun violence from multiple angles and through multiple methods.… This is an example of the type of vision we’ll need to truly make an impact in reducing gun violence.” 

“Since a gunman with an AR-15 gunned down 20 children and six educators in our elementary school in Sandy Hook seven years ago, more than 700,000 Americans have been killed or injured by guns,” said Po Murray, Newtown Action Alliance. “We have been imploring Congress to pass a set of comprehensive policies to end gun violence in America.  [The] Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act is a policy prescription that would dramatically reduce all forms of gun deaths and injuries and Congress must pass this bill immediately.”

"This is exactly the sort of action we hoped to inspire when we released our Peace Plan For A Safer America this summer,” said Eve Levenson, Federal Affairs Manager at March For Our Lives. If we are to put an end to gun violence in our country, then as this bill proposes, we must commit to a gun licensing system, universal background checks, and other measures that will protect all Americans and save lives, particularly young people."  

“A woman is murdered by an abuser with a gun every sixteen hours. Four-and-a-half million American women alive today have been directly threatened by an abuser with a firearm; of these, 1 million have been shot or shot at,” said Ruth M. Glenn, President and CEO of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). “At a time when intimate partner femicides are increasing, driven by an increase in intimate partner gun femicides, this bill is more important ever. NCADV also recognizes the leadership of the Members of Congress whose bills are included in this important package. Together, we can disarm domestic abusers and end the scourge of gun-involved domestic violence.”

 

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