Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-16) applauded President Obama's detailed and comprehensive approach to curtailing gun violence, and hopefully preventing further tragedies such as the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
"I commend Vice President Biden for taking on the challenge of formulating a plan, and doing so in quick fashion following the unspeakable tragedy of the children and teachers murdered in their classrooms. President Obama has proven with his announcement that he is committed to take serious action to tackle the many issues which factor into the dynamic which leads to a society where more children die of gun violence than soldiers in combat zones," said Rep. Engel.
The Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee continued, "I am very pleased to see that the President is calling for Congressional action on an assault weapon ban. The previous ban should never have been allowed to expire. Independent from the full assault weapons ban, I again call for the President to reinstate the ban on imports of assault weapons, a ban enforced during the administrations of Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. This is something he can do immediately by Executive Order, while Congress works on reinstating and strengthening the full assault weapon ban. The first President Bush responded to the growing threats to law enforcement from the use of assault weapons by drug traffickers, and following the Stockton schoolyard massacre in 1989, implemented this imported assault weapons ban."
President Obama's plan includes a large number of actions, including 23 Executive Orders. Among the provisions are the following:
Require criminal background checks for all gun sales.
Take four executive actions to ensure information on dangerous individuals is available to the background check system.
Reinstate and strengthen the assault weapons ban.
Restore the 10-round limit on ammunition magazines.
Protect police by finishing the job of getting rid of armor-piercing bullets.
Give law enforcement additional tools to prevent and prosecute gun crime.
End the freeze on gun violence research.
Make our schools safer with more school resource officers and school counselors, safer climates, and better emergency response plans.
Help ensure that young people get the mental health treatment they need.
Ensure health insurance plans cover mental health benefits.
Rep. Engel, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has introduced and co-sponsored a number of bills which addressed some of the issues covered in this initiative. These include:
Rep. Engel introduced the PLEA Act to ban the Five-seveN handguns, (HR 6685) manufactured by FN Herstal in Belgium. Several types of ammunition for the Five-seveN have the ability to pierce law enforcement body armor. The Five-seveN handgun is one of the most popular with Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs) who have nicknamed the gun the "mata policia" or "cop killer." It was also used by Major Nidal Hasan in the horrific Fort Hood shooting in November 2009 where 13 people were killed and 30 others wounded.
Rep. Engel previously introduced legislation to instruct the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to set a national quality standard for all child safety devices used on firearms.
HR 308, the Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act, would reinstate a 1994 ban on semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding devices, which expired in September 2004
HR 591, Gun Show Loophole Closing Act, which would require that background checks be required on all gun sales during gun shows.
In 1994, Congress instituted a prohibition on the manufacture for civilian use of assault weapons. The 10-year ban was signed into law by President Clinton in September 1994, and expired in September 2004 as part of the original law's sunset provision. Rep. Engel has repeatedly called for the renewal of the ban.
"No one can ever convince me that a private citizen needs to own an assault weapon capable of firing off dozens of rounds in a blink of an eye. There is no serious deer or duck hunter that needs this, and no home protection needs that kind of firepower. The National Rifle Association's belligerent defense of their warped interpretation of the Second Amendment is as cold-hearted as it is dangerous. The Second Amendment says - A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The NRA tends to forget the words "well regulated militia" and the first part of the amendment. Even the First Amendment has seen controls placed upon its provisions -- why would the Second Amendment be free from regulations? Especially in the case of public safety -- you can't scream "Fire' in a movie theater, and you should not be permitted to obtain military-grade weapons to murder dozens of people in a movie theater either," added Rep. Engel.