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David P.
Democrat NC 4

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  • Gun Violence Prevention

    by Representative David E. Price

    Posted on 2016-07-07

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    PRICE of North Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I rise today as a vice chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and in solidarity with the majority of Americans who are demanding that Congress take meaningful action to prevent gun violence.

    We all know the statistics. Whether it is through mass shootings that make the headlines or the unseen violence that happens daily on our streets, gun violence takes the lives of more than 30,000 of our Nation's citizens each year, a number that far exceeds other industrial countries.

    Now, all these countries have their share of violent extremists and madmen, but only our country gives easy access to weapons of mass killing. And that makes all the difference for America.

    Rather than seeking out commonsense solutions to address this crisis, the Republican majority continues to cower to the gun lobby and the firearms manufacturers. Now they plead the Second Amendment, but Constitutional Law 101 would tell us that all of our rights, including the precious freedoms of religion and speech, must be balanced to protect innocent third parties and to protect the safety of the wider community.

    One commonsense measure we should all agree on is background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill. You can't shout ``fire'' in a crowded theater because of your freedom of speech, and neither should you be able to buy a weapon if you have a history of violence and criminality.

    In fact, almost 90 percent of Americans, including the majority of gun owners, support universal background checks for all gun purchases. The problem is that our present background check system is rife with loopholes. Background checks are not required for private sales at gun shows. They are also not required for Internet sales.

    Bipartisan legislation has been introduced by Representatives Peter King and Mike Thompson that would finally close this egregious loophole. It is an entirely sensible reform that would have a measurable impact on the safety of our schools, homes, and neighborhoods, without preventing law-abiding citizens from using guns for self-defense or recreational purposes.

    Despite attracting 186 cosponsors, including several Republicans, the background check legislation has never been brought to the floor or even received a hearing in committee. It has been languishing for more than 15 months. Meanwhile, the shootings and the suicides and the massacres continue to accumulate.

    My colleagues, we must do better. Our fellow citizens are totally fed up, both with the unspeakable killing and suffering and with a feckless Congress that hasn't lifted a finger to prevent it.

    Now, this week, after intense public criticism and a historic protest by Democrats on the House floor, Republicans seemed for a while to be willing to hold a vote on legislation they claim would prevent suspected terrorists from purchasing firearms. After all, nearly 2,500 individuals on the terrorist watch list have successfully purchased weapons in this country.

    But rather than embrace existing bipartisan legislation to actually fix the problem, Republicans put forth a woefully inadequate proposal that would require law enforcement and courts to grapple with unworkable processes, unreachable standards, to be completed in an unreasonably short period of time.

    Their bill would allow suspected terrorists to receive firearms by default after only 3 days if the court is unable to work through a complicated process. That is the same flaw that allowed the White supremacist Charleston shooter to obtain the weapon that he used to murder nine people at Emanuel AME Church.

    In other words, the bill is totally inadequate. Now, under pressure from their most extreme Members, Republican leaders refuse to even put this bill on the floor.

    What should be on the floor is bipartisan legislation, H.R. 1076, that would permit the Attorney General to block gun sales to suspected terrorists. This legislation, based on a proposal from the Bush Justice Department, would still allow individuals to challenge the government in court to restore their gun ownership rights.

    We don't have to choose between protecting our communities and respecting due process.

    {time} 1015 And so, Mr. Speaker, we ask our colleagues how much longer must we [[Page H4473]] wait? How many more people have to die to move us to act? How many more American towns and cities must be added to the constantly growing list of places like Orlando and Columbine and Aurora and Charleston and Newtown? Moments of silence aren't enough. Thoughts and prayers are not enough. In fact, the Scriptures teach us that such pieties give grave offense when they mask a refusal to do what we know is right. We need action. I call on my colleagues to bring these commonsense proposals to the floor for a vote.


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