U.S. Senator Pat Roberts today released the following statement after declaring his opposition to the Manchin-Toomey gun control amendment and joining key Senators on the Judiciary Committee including Ranking Member Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in introducing a bill, the Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act of 2013, to reduce illegal gun violence without infringing upon Second Amendment rights.
"I believe that Senators Toomey and Manchin came to the table with a sincere proposal, however, I have serious concerns with their legislation, including the expansion of the background check system and government intrusion on private firearm transfers.
"I think there is a better solution. As an alternative, today I am helping to introduce legislation that protects Kansans' fundamental right to self-protection, while making a comprehensive effort to reduce illegal gun violence, the Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act of 2013.
"A background check can provide a key line of defense against gun violence, but it must be done in a way that does not infringe upon Second Amendment rights. The legislation we are introducing is a comprehensive package that will improve the efficiency and accuracy in the background check system. In addition, our bill will address mental illness and improve school safety along with other measures to end gun crimes.
"We have a unique opportunity to address the root cause of this tragic violence, but we can't waste time with legislation that does not reduce gun violence. We need to enact realistic legislation.
The Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act of 2013 will 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, among other significant proposals that will protect Americans from gun violence.
The Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act of 2013 was also supported by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Thune (R-ND), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Daniel Coats (R-IN), John Cornyn (R-TX), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John Hoeven (R-ND), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ron Johnson (R-WI), James Risch (R-ID), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and John Boozman (R-AR).
Senator Roberts has also introduced legislation, S. 689, the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act, to improve awareness and prevention of mental illness with special emphasis on services for children and youth. The bill was approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee with broad bipartisan support. The bill reauthorizes and improves programs administered by both the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services related to awareness, prevention, and early identification of mental health conditions, and the promotion of linkages to appropriate services for children and youth.