Sen. Warren, Rep. Johnson Unveil Comprehensive Gun Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA) introduced the House version 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. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced the Senate version of the bill.
“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 Senator 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.”
“I commend Sen. Warren for taking bold action to address the scourge of gun violence in our nation, and I’m proud to introduce its companion in the House,” said Rep. Johnson. “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. 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 Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 100 people are killed with guns in the U.S. every single day, 4 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 10 times higher than that of other comparable countries.
Since 2013, Georgia alone has suffered more than 90 mass shootings. Nearly 200 children and more than 560 teenagers have been killed or injured during that time, and more than 3,500 Georgians have lost their lives to gun violence.
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 that are 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.