Column: Time for the Senate to act on gun violence
by REP. SUSAN DAVIS
Published - 09/25/19 - 07:00 AM | 1706 views | 2 2 comments | 51 51 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The list of cities and the number of families impacted by gun violence grows just about every day. 

El Paso and Dayton were recently added. This was after Gilroy and Poway right here in California. 

Despite this, bipartisan bills to address gun violence that passed the House of Representatives are languishing in the Senate. 

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has proudly referred to himself as “The Grim Reaper," committed to letting bills that come out of the House to simply die. 

It’s time for Leader McConnell to instead be the “Angel of Mercy” and allow these bills a debate and vote in the Senate. 

Gun violence prevention legislation sent to the Senate enjoys bipartisan support in the House and among the American people. 

The Bipartisan Background Checks Act (HR 8) will close glaring loopholes in the federal background check system, covering all sales.

Background checks work. Each year, these checks stop 88,000 gun sales to criminals, domestic abusers, or other prohibited purchasers. Yet, in some states, those same individuals can buy identical guns at a gun show, over the internet, or through a newspaper ad — no questions asked. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that background checks have stopped more than 3 million illegal gun sales since 1994.

Universal background checks have overwhelming support among the American people. A Quinnipiac Poll showed this support at 97% of the American people, 97% of gun owners, and 97% of Republicans. If Leader McConnell won’t listen to the House, he should listen to the American people. 

Passage of HR 8 was truly historic as it was the first major House vote on gun violence prevention legislation in 25 years.

The Enhanced Background Check Act (HR 1112) will close the “Charleston Loophole” that allowed an avowed white supremacist — with a drug arrest — to purchase a gun. This gun was used to kill nine people at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015.

Under current law, a gun seller must wait three business days while federal authorities conduct a background check. While most of these checks can happen quickly, lack of information can cause delays. If a delay lasts more than three days, the gun sale is allowed to move forward. 

HR 1112 expands the time for the FBI to conduct a background check to 10 days, with an extension of 10 more days if necessary. If authorities had more time, they would have likely discovered the past drug arrest and blocked the sale. 

Many of my House colleagues and I urged the Senate to return early from our summer recess to take up these measures. We were — unsurprisingly — rejected by the Senate majority leader. 

However, the House Judiciary Committee has returned early to consider three bills to address gun violence. This series of legislation will ban high-capacity magazines, prohibit people convicted of a misdemeanor hate crimes from buying a gun, and help states that enact red flag laws to allow law enforcement to seize guns from those people considered to be a threat to themselves or others.

The House should also look at reinstating the nationwide assault weapons ban. 

The mass shooting in Gilroy is an example of why we need a national ban. While California has an assault weapons ban, our neighboring state Nevada does not. The Gilroy shooter purchased an AK-47 in Nevada and used it to kill three people at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. 

The people of California — or any of the five other states and the District of Columbia with similar bans — should not have their lives put at risk because of another state’s lax gun laws. 

Once again, this is a gun safety proposal with bipartisan support. Nearly 70% of Americans want such a ban, including 55% of Republicans. 

As the rest of Congress comes back into session this month, the Senate has a real opportunity to put the safety of the American people before politics and enact common-sense gun safety measures. The House is doing its job. It’s time the Senate joined us. 

 

Congresswoman Davis represents central San Diego, as well as La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Spring Valley and parts of El Cajon and Chula Vista.

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September 25, 2019
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