Congressman Frank Pallone joined with community activists today outside of his New Brunswick office to rally for Congress to act on common sense solutions to reduce gun violence and make our schools, communities and streets safer. Themed "No More Birthday Cake," Pallone and supporters presented a cake as a powerful symbol of lives lost and the positive steps we can take to make sure we don't lose more birthdays at the hands of gun violence.
Pallone, a longtime advocate of gun violence prevention efforts supports bipartisan legislation expanding the existing background check system to cover all commercial firearm sales. Pallone is a co-sponsor of H.R. 1565, the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act of 2013, which ensures that criminals and the dangerously mentally ill cannot slip through background check loopholes that endanger the safety and rights of every American.
"Background checks are the best defense we have against criminals, terrorists and the dangerously mentally ill getting guns," said Pallone. "The American people deserve a vote in the House on bipartisan legislation that will save lives, and help keep our schools, neighborhoods and cities safer from gun violence, and I call on my Republican colleagues to bring this bill to the floor."
H.R. 1565, the bipartisan legislation introduced by Peter King (R-NY) and Mike-Thompson ((D-CA) is identical to the bipartisan agreement on background checks struck by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA). More than 180 House members from both sides of the aisle have cosponsored the King-Thompson bill.
The legislation helps keep guns from criminals and reinforces the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners. It expands the existing background check system to cover all commercial firearm sales, including those at gun shows, over the internet or in classified ads. By closing these loopholes, the legislation greatly reduces the number of places that criminals and the dangerously mentally ill can buy guns. Right now, a criminal can buy a firearm at a table or out of someone's trunk at a gun show, over the internet, or through a newspaper ad because no background check is required for these kinds of sales.
Last year, the background check system identified and denied more than 88,000 sales to criminals, domestic abusers, those with serious mental illnesses, and other prohibited purchasers. However, those same prohibited purchasers could buy those guns at a gun show or over the Internet without any questions asked. More than 40 percent of gun transactions are conducted without a background check. The King-Thompson bill expands the existing background check system to help close these loopholes. Under the bill, background checks will continue to be conducted through a licensed dealer and records will be kept in the same manner as they have for more than 40 years.
The bill also improves the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) by incentivizing states to improve reporting of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill and by directing future grant funds toward better record-sharing systems. The bill will also reduce federal funds to states that do not comply.
"While background checks are the first line of defense to prevent criminals and the dangerously ill from getting guns, we must also ban military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazines, like the kind that have been a common feature of so many of the mass shootings we have witnessed in the U.S.," Pallone added. "It is simply outrageous that these military-style assault weapons are legally available in our society."
Congressman Pallone voted for the original Federal Assault Weapons Ban in 1994 and supports the reinstatement of the ban, which expired in September 2004. The ban would stem gun violence by restricting access to dangerous military-style assault weapons, which are not needed for hunting or protecting a home.