Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY04), the sponsor of bills to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and to ban high-capacity ammunition magazines like those used in Tucson, Arizona this year, issued the following statement in response to President Barack Obama's op-ed on gun violence in the Arizona Daily Star today:
"As a longtime supporter of strengthening our national background check system, I commend President Obama for leading the nation in a commonsense conversation about reducing gun violence based on things every American can agree upon: too many of us die and get injured by gunfire every year, and we can do more to keep lethal weapons out of the hands of the most dangerous individuals.
"I hope that this conversation expands to include a comprehensive approach that incorporates limiting access to the most dangerous tools of destruction, like the high-capacity magazines used in so many mass murders recently, but I'm encouraged that our President is advocating for the importance of working actively to reduce gun violence."
In 2007, Rep. McCarthy sponsored -- and President George W. Bush signed into law -- the NICS Improvement Act, the most significant gun safety legislation passed in the United States since 1993. The law provides grants to states to upgrade information and identification technologies for firearm eligibility checks and requires federal agencies to share relevant information with the Attorney General for inclusion in the database.
On January 14 of this year, Rep. McCarthy wrote a joint letter with Rep. John Dingell and Rep. Lois Capps to U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro asking him to use the resources of the General Accountability Office to perform a thorough audit of NICS. The letter, attached, cites the database's dangerous lack of entries for those adjudicated to be mentally unfit to own a firearm. It also asks critical questions addressing local government compliance with the requirements of the system, and whether the federal government is providing enough funding and support for states.
On January 18, Rep. McCarthy and 42 co-sponsors introduced H.R. 308, a bill to ban high-capacity ammunition magazines such as those used in many recent mass shootings, including this year's massacre in Tucson, Arizona. The bill has picked up wide support in Washington and in towns big and small across the nation. This includes 97 cosponsors and a number of high-profile endorsers including the mayors of New York City and Los Angeles, the 1,200-member United States Conference of Mayors, the 63-member Major Cities Chiefs Police Association and newspapers from every region of the country. Even some conservative gun rights advocates like Vice President Dick Cheney and 2nd Amendment attorney Robert Levy have stated that the country should consider the ban, which is sponsored in the U.S. Senate by Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ).
Rep. McCarthy has also introduced legislation (H.R. 591) to close the so-called "gun show loophole," which allows private sales to occur without any background check, and is introducing the House version of S.436, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer's bill to implement the improvements to NICS supported by Mayor Bloomberg and the Mayors Against Illegal Guns.