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Public Statements

Issue Position: Preventing Gun Violence

Issue Position

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In 1996, I was elected to Congress because of my commitment to stopping gun violence, and in June of 2007 I worked to pass the first meaningful legislation to prevent gun violence in over a decade.

As the tragedy at Virginia Tech revealed, there are serious flaws in the background check system designed to keep guns away from felons, the mentally ill and others prevented by law from owning firearms. The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act signed into law in 1993 requires that prospective gun buyers first submit to a federal background check before purchasing a gun from a gun dealer or at a gun show (in some states). However, the background check system is not perfect since only 28 states have less than 75% of their criminal history records up to date. This means criminals and others barred from owning a firearm are buying guns through legitimate means.

However, the House passed my legislation, HR 2640, that would give the states the resources they need to ensure all disqualified individuals are included in the NICS database. Had this law been in effect at the time, the Virginia Tech shooter would have been denied a gun.

STOPPING ILLEGAL GUNS

Illegal guns are responsible for a large portion of gun violence deaths and injuries across our country. Reports demonstrate that 1% of gun dealers sell nearly 60% of the guns used in crime. In New York City, nearly 90% of guns used in crime come from states with weak gun laws. Rather than focus on stopping the flow of illegal guns, the current administration and Congressional leadership continue to work hand in hand with the gun lobby by granting immunity to corrupt and incompetent gun manufacturers and sellers. Together, they have tied the hands of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to investigate corrupt gun dealers and share this information with other law enforcement agencies. I am working in Congress to stop the flow of illegal guns in our country.

TAKE WEAPONS OF WAR OFF THE STREETS

I believe law-abiding people should be able to own guns for sport and self-defense. However, there are too many guns on the market that are only designed to kill.

* Assault Weapons Ban - With the demise of the federal assault weapons ban in 2004, I re-introduced legislation calling for a new, stronger federal ban on assault weapons. Assault weapons, such as AK-47s, Uzis and Tec-9s, have no place in our society and pose a particular risk to law enforcement.

* .50 caliber sniper rifle - I also support legislation to ban the .50 Caliber Rifle, a gun so accurate and powerful that it can hit a target at 2,000 yards and when used with incendiary or armor-piercing ammunition make armored personnel carriers, airplanes, chemical fuel tanks and rail cars vulnerable. These guns pose a serious homeland security risk and should be taken off the market.

KEEP GUNS AWAY FROM TERRORISTS

While individuals residing on federal terrorist watch lists are not permitted to board an airplane, they can legally purchase guns. That's why I introduced the No Fly, No Buy Act. This legislation will prohibit those listed on the TSA's No Fly List from purchasing firearms. If we cannot trust someone to board a commercial airliner, we most certainly should not allow that person access to AK-47s, Tec-9, Uzis and other handheld weapons of mass destruction.


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