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Public Statements

Issue Position: Gun Safety

Issue Position

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Washington, especially the House of Representatives, has fallen behind the American people on enacting common sense gun safety legislation. However, Congresswoman McCarthy has worked to pass several, sensible measures aimed at curbing gun violence in this country.

Gun Store Employee Background Checks

Federal law clearly prohibits felons, domestic violence misdemeanants, drug users, illegal aliens, and other persons from possessing a firearm. However, there is no requirement that gun dealers perform criminal background checks on employees in gun stores to determine whether they are prohibited from possessing guns. Employees of firms that get explosives licensees from ATF already must undergo ATF-administered background checks. Congresswoman McCarthy has introduced legislation that would require all gun store employees to pass a background check. Gun dealers would have to supply employee information so that the Department of Justice can run background checks on them using the National Instant Criminal Background Check Database (NICS) system and certify that the employee should be allowed to work in a gun store.

Closing the Gun Show Loophole

Because the Brady background check effectively stopped criminals from directly buying guns at licensed gun stores, criminals are forced to find other ways to acquire guns. Criminals have discovered that at gun shows, large numbers of private buyers and sellers come together in one place and sell guns where no background check is required. Criminals have exploited this loophole in the Brady Act to purchase firearms.

Congresswoman McCarthy will continue to take a lead role in pressing for action on H.R. 2324, which would close the loophole in our gun laws allowing anyone to purchase a gun at a gun show without undergoing a background check.

No Fly? Then, No Buy

Today, it is easier to purchase a gun than to board an airplane. Today, any person whose name appears on the no fly list can purchase any type of firearm, including military-style assault weapons, provided that he is not a felon, drug addict, or a domestic abuser.

Since 9-11, we have passed many laws to improve homeland security. Yet, this loophole remains open. If you are denied the chance to board an airplane because of suspected ties to terrorists, then you also should be denied the opportunity to purchase a gun.

HR 2401, the "No Fly, No Buy" Act. This bill would add people who are listed on the no fly list to the current groups of people who cannot purchase or obtain a gun.

Congresswoman McCarthy realizes that not every person on the no fly list is a terrorist. However, the no fly list is the only list of potential terrorists with a clearly stated policy for correcting erroneous information. If the only reason for denying a gun purchase is the appearance of the name on the no fly list, the denied gun purchaser could provide correct information. Once his or her name is removed from the no fly list, that individual could make a legal gun purchase. An otherwise law-abiding American would want his or her name off the no fly list. A terrorist in our midst would not draw attention to him or herself.

Stopping Illegal Gun Trafficking

Guns are often trafficked from states with weaker gun laws to states with stronger gun laws. The ATF reports that about 70% of traced guns used in crimes in New York come from outside the state. The ATF has identified several major gun trafficking routes, including the I-95 "Iron Pipeline" corridor between Miami and Boston. There, gun traffickers move guns to felons and other prohibited purchasers and are used in crimes. Traffickers often use deceptive techniques, including straw purchasers, altering or obliterating gun serial numbers, and carrying out transactions with a small number of guns at one time to avoid detection. , there is currently no comprehensive law specifically addressing the activity of interstate or international firearms trafficking.

H.R. 4298, the Gun Trafficking Prevention Act. The bill will stop the steady flow of illegal guns between states and across our southern border into Mexico. The bill will empower local, state, and federal law enforcement to investigate and prosecute gun traffickers and their entire criminal networks, while protecting responsible, law-abiding gun owners. It puts on the books a strict, clear "Trafficking in Firearms" crime and includes enhanced penalties for corrupt gun dealers and additional resources for ATF.

The Assault Weapons Ban

On September 13, 2004, the Assault Weapons Ban expired. Since its introduction in 1994, the ban increased public safety and prevented dangerous weapons from falling into the hands of violent criminals, including gang members, drug dealers and terrorists. Congresswoman McCarthy continues to call on all Americans to demand the passage of this common sense gun safety legislation.

The Assault Weapons Ban is supported by virtually every federal, state and local law enforcement agency. Prior to the Ban, ATF found criminals prefer assault weapons over law-abiding citizens eight to one.

Further, the large majority of Americans support the Ban. Shortly before the ban expired, a National Annenberg Election Survey poll found that 68% of the American public supported the renewal of the Ban. Even in households with guns, 57% supported renewing the ban. Unfortunately, the dialogue on this issue continues to be dominated by the vocal and well-funded minority.

In 2004, former-President Bush supported an extension of the ban. Former-Attorney General Gonzales endorsed the President's position during his confirmation hearing. Congresswoman McCarthy was glad to hear of their support, as well as the support of President Obama. She can think of no legitimate reason for civilians to have access to military-style weapons that are useless for recreational activities and only serve the purpose of furthering unwanted criminal activity.

Congresswoman McCarthy has sponsored the following legislation:

The Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act: Congresswoman McCarthy has introduced legislation that (1) reinstates the law as it existed prior to September 2004 and (2) would make the assault weapon and high-capacity magazine ban permanent, and also significantly strengthens current law. Her bill would expand the definition of "assault weapon" to include post-ban "copy cat" weapons, which closes a loophole allowing kits to be sold to modify legal weapons into assault weapons, and enhances the tracing of assault weapons, among other things.

National Instant Criminal Background Check Database (NICS) Enhancement

A number of states and some Federal agencies do not provide all disqualifying records to the FBI needed for a complete background check for gun purchases. Congresswoman McCarthy had legislation enacted to correct this gap.

The NICS Improvement Amendments Act: Congresswoman McCarthy's legislation provides grants to states to upgrade information and identification technologies for firearms eligibility determinations and require all Federal agencies that have records on persons for whom it is illegal to purchase a firearm to provide that information to the Attorney General for inclusion in NICS. On June 13, 2007, the House passed H.R. 2640 by voice vote. The Senate passed on the bill on December 19, 2007 and the President signed it into law on January 8, 2008. The Fiscal Year 2009 Appropriations Bill included $10 million for Improvements to NICS. The Fiscal Year 2010 Appropriations Bill included $20 million for Improvements to NICS.

Foreign Felons Purchasing Guns

In April 2004, the Supreme Court made it easier for dangerous people to receive and use firearms. The Court held that the law prohibiting convicted felons from possessing guns does not apply when the conviction occurred outside the United States. Congresswoman McCarthy disagrees with the Court's decision. A conviction by "any court" means any court of competent jurisdiction. The Court's decision means that an American drug dealer can be convicted of a drug felony in another country and, upon his return to the U.S., can legally obtain a firearm. Or, a person can be convicted of violating Japan's firearms laws and then obtain a gun in this country.

The Foreign Felon Gun Prohibition Act. The bill amends the law to state that a person "convicted in any court, including any foreign court, of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year" shall not be able to possess a firearm.

Stopping Juveniles from Getting Handguns

With limited exceptions, federal law prohibits anybody under age 18 from possessing a handgun. In May 2005, Congresswoman McCarthy noticed a minor amendment to the anti-gang bill that would have greatly expanded the exceptions. She explained her concerns to the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who agreed with her interpretation. As a result, the language was removed from the anti-gang bill.

Legislation permitting access to certain information in the Firearms Trace System database Congresswoman McCarthy has introduced legislation that would repeals the "Tiahrt amendment" that has restricted the ability of local governments to learn the source of firearms that have been used in their communities.


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