As Vice President Joe Biden's task force on gun control is developing its report, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) today sent his recommendations to the Vice President, pushing for a ban on assault weapons and high capacity clips, background checks for all, upgrades to databases used in background checks, and an end to restrictions on federal funding for firearms research.
Rep. Markey is a longstanding leader in efforts to reduce gun violence, successfully fighting for closure of a loophole that was enabling the importation into the United States of large quantities of Chinese assault weapons in the 1990s.
Rep. Markey's recommendations to Vice President's Biden's Task Force were applauded today by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and prominent gun control advocate John Rosenthal.
"There is no single solution that will prevent tragedies such as the horror inflicted upon the victims and their families and loved ones in Newtown, but the rapid advancement in firearms technology should compel lawmakers to take a hard look at the laws governing these deadly weapons," writes Rep. Markey to Vice President Biden. "Each of us has a responsibility to fight for saner, safer gun laws that uphold the Second Amendment while protecting the security of our schools, streets, and communities."
Rep. Markey's letter to Biden, includes these recommendations for the Vice President's Task Force:
--Implement a ban on assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips.
--Require background checks for all gun sales, including at gun shows -- not just those from federally licensed dealers.
-Improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which is used to conduct background checks on individuals seeking to purchase firearms.
--Permit the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) to share trace data for guns used in crimes with law enforcement. Due to a vote of Congress, ATF is currently banned from releasing data to state and local law enforcement that could help solve crimes.
--Lift the prohibition on federally funded firearms research, which since the 1990s has hamstrung the CDC's National Center for Injury Control and Prevention and blocked it from studying the impact of firearms and from evaluating the effectiveness of efforts to combat gun violence in the United States.
--Remove the current prohibition on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) ability to maintain gun purchase records for more than 24 hours, which undermines law enforcement's ability to verify that background checks are being conducted and even limits its ability to prevent potential terrorist attacks.
"Congressman Markey is right. Each of us has a responsibility to fight for better gun laws to make our communities safer," Mayor Menino said. "The recommendations he submitted to Vice President Biden include several of the common sense reforms I've been fighting for over the last six years with Mayor Bloomberg and our Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition. I'm glad he's making his voice heard as we work to address the epidemic of gun violence in our country."
"Congressman Markey's energy and knowledge on gun violence prevention are unmatched in the House of Representatives," said John Rosenthal, co-founder of Stop Handgun Violence and Common Sense About Kids and Guns. "Massachusetts is the leader in gun violence prevention, and there is no one better than Ed Markey to help replicate the successful Massachusetts gun laws in Washington."
In 1994, Rep. Markey worked to urge President Bill Clinton to place an emergency moratorium on the importation of military style assault weapons from China, including the AK-47 and Uzi. At the time, it was estimated that between 425,000 and two million modified rifles had been imported into the United States since 1991, selling for less than $130 per gun. President Clinton imposed the ban through the issuance of an Executive Order as part of the renewal of China's Most-Favored Nation trading status.
"While this list of recommendations is not intended to be exhaustive, it highlights some of the basic and fundamental improvements that should be included in any proposal to reform the laws governing the sale, purchase, or ownership of firearms," concludes Rep. Markey in the letter. "It is imperative that we move thoughtfully and expeditiously on the effort to reform our nation's gun laws, and I thank you for your leadership on this vital issue and your consideration of these recommendations."