Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ted Cruz of Texas are introducing an alternative amendment to gun legislation pending on the Senate floor. Their "Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act" would preserve the Second Amendment while providing important fixes to existing law.
The Grassley-Cruz proposal would reauthorize and improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), increase resources for prosecutions of gun crime, address mental illness in the criminal justice system, and strengthen criminal law by including straw purchasing and illegal firearm trafficking statutes.
"When people study our amendment, they'll see a sensible alternative that was developed from the ground up. It's got wide-ranging, broad-based support and takes a responsible approach to fixing problems with the current background check system," Grassley said. "We've put together an amendment that can effectively address some of the problems we've seen while protecting Second Amendment rights. I've been very interested in the mental health aspect of this debate, so we include provisions to study and address that issue. My oversight of Operation Fast and Furious highlighted some serious flaws within the gun trafficking and straw purchasing area, and Senator Cruz has done an exceptionally good job of helping develop that portion of our alternative. In addition, we both understand the importance of ensuring that Second Amendment protections are in place for veterans, along with every other American."
"I am glad to work with Sen. Grassley on this important amendment, which presents a reasonable alternative to the current legislation being considered while placing top priority on preserving Americans' inalienable right to bear arms," Sen. Cruz said. "Rather than restricting the rights of law-abiding Americans, we should be focusing on keeping guns out of the hands of violent criminals, which this legislation accomplishes. While the Obama Administration continues to politicize a terrible tragedy to push its anti-gun agenda, I am proud to stand beside my fellow senators to present common-sense measures that will increase criminal prosecutions of felons who try to buy guns, criminalize straw purchasing and gun trafficking, and address mental health issues."
Sponsors of the Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act of 2013 include Senators Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, John Thune of South Dakota, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Dan Coats of Indiana, John Cornyn of Texas, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, James Risch of Idaho, Marco Rubio of Florida, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John Boozman of Arkansas.
This legislation will:
* Improve and reauthorize grants for NICS database;
* Require federal courts to submit relevant information to NICS;
* Ensure that relevant mental health records are submitted by states to NICS;
* Condition federal grant money for states on their submission of mental health records to NICS;
* Increase federal prosecution of gun violence by establishing the Nationwide Project Exile Program and establishing a high level federal taskforce;
* Study of the causes of mass shootings;
* Responsibly addresses gun violence by criminalizing straw purchasing of firearms and gun trafficking;
* Second Amendment Protections for Veterans;
* Require the Department of Justice to explain to Congress why it has or has not been prosecuting gun cases;
* Place Limitations on Fast & Furious type operations by DOJ;
* Authorize FFL's to utilize the NICS database to for voluntary background checks of employees;
* Authorize FFL's to access the FBI's National Crime Information Center stolen gun database to ensure that a firearm is not stolen prior to acquisition;
* Reauthorize the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA) with amendments;
* Address school safety by Reauthorizes the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Secure our Schools Program through 2023.