One month after the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) called on Vice President Joe Biden and his national task force on gun violence to include the Senator's bills to ban high-capacity magazines, close the gun show loophole, and prevent the sale of firearms to known and suspected terrorists in their recommendations to Congress. The Vice President will present his recommendations to President Obama tomorrow, and the President may announce his gun safety proposals later this week.
"Spurred by the devastating attack in Newtown one month ago, the Vice President is leading the nation in a meaningful conversation about reducing gun violence in the United States. As we continue to mourn the senseless deaths of so many children and innocent people at Sandy Hook Elementary School, we must reflect on what has led us to this point and what can be done to turn us around as a nation," Lautenberg said. "There are common-sense proposals on the table, like my ban on high-capacity magazines and efforts to improve background checks, that have broad support and can make a real difference in our communities. There is no reason for individuals to have military-style ammunition magazines, like the shooter in Newtown used, and this is the type of legislation with the widespread support to pass out of Congress. In addition, criminals and terrorists shouldn't be able to purchase guns and assault weapons, but right now glaring loopholes in our laws make it impossible to stop them. These are common-sense reforms that can and should be made without further delay."
Senator Lautenberg plans to reintroduce the following bills on the first day for bill introductions in the Senate in the 113th Congress:
Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act
The legislation would prohibit the manufacture and sale of ammunition magazines that have a capacity of, or could be readily converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition. From 1994 to 2004, high-capacity ammunition magazines were illegal as part of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which expired in 2004. Since that time, high-capacity clips (holding more than 10 rounds at a time) have been legal to manufacture and sell. Senator Lautenberg first introduced his bill after a high-capacity ammunition magazine was used to carry out the shooting spree in Tucson, allowing the shooter to fire off 31 bullets in just 15 seconds. The shooter was subdued when he stopped to reload.
Gun Show Background Check Act
The legislation would close the gun show loophole--a significant loophole in U.S. law that allows guns to be sold, even to criminals and terrorists, by unlicensed sellers at gun shows without conducting background checks. It would require that background checks be conducted on all firearms sales at gun shows, even sales by private parties.
Sen. Lautenberg has been working to close the gun show loophole since 1999, when he first introduced legislation to require background checks at gun shows. Later that year--in the wake of the Columbine tragedy, where three of the weapons were purchased at gun shows without a background check--the Senate passed Sen. Lautenberg's legislation as an amendment to a juvenile justice bill. The legislation passed by one vote, with Vice President Gore casting the tie-breaking vote. However, the gun lobby killed the legislation in the House-Senate conference.
Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act
The legislation would close a dangerous loophole known as the "Terror Gap" that prevents law enforcement from stopping a person on the terrorist watch list from obtaining firearms or explosives. It would provide the Attorney General with authority to deny the transfer of a firearm or issuance of a firearm or explosives license when a background check reveals that the purchaser is a known or suspected terrorist and the Attorney General reasonably believes that the person may use a firearm or explosives in connection with terrorism. An investigation by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that between February 2004 and December 2010, there were 1,321 cases in which individuals on the Terror Watch List were cleared to purchase a gun or explosive.