U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a current member and former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released the following statement today after the Judiciary Committee concluded its markup of four gun control bills:
S. 54 -- Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2013, Introduced by Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.)
Expands federal law and increases penalties for those who purchase weapons for others, with very limited exceptions. Hatch voted NO.
HATCH: "This legislation is well-intentioned as it attempts to fill a gap in federal law with respect to straw-purchasers and weapons traffickers. In its current form, however, this bill casts too wide a net in criminalizing too much behavior beyond what we should focus on. The devil is in the details. I cannot support the expansion of federal law when it can sweep in individuals who should not be the target of the legislation. This bill should be crafted more narrowly."
S. 150 -- Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 Introduced by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.)
Reinstates the Assault Weapons Ban that lapsed in 2003, but increases the ban to include a much broader range of semi-automatic weapons than the original ban. Hatch voted NO.
HATCH: "This bill ignores past experience and simply expands legislation which we know will not work. The version of this legislation enacted two decades ago wisely required an evaluation of its effectiveness. That evaluation gave it a failing grade. The assault weapons ban brought no discernible decrease in gun violence. The ban now before us is even more restrictive, banning 157 named semi-automatic weapons and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of weapons that have only a single listed characteristic. It plainly ignores the evidence that a ban of this kind will not decrease gun violence. Doing more of what has failed in the past is irresponsible and I cannot support it."
S. 374 -- Fix Gun Checks Act of 2013, Introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)
Imposes universal background checks for all firearm sales. Also creates a new federal crime that imposes criminal liability for those who fail to report a misplaced or stolen weapon within 24 hours of discovery. Hatch voted NO.
HATCH: "This legislation seeks to impose universal background checks for all firearm sales, including those between neighbors. I think everyone knows that, in the long run, universal background checks can be effective only with universal gun registration, a flawed concept. While we should be addressing individuals who unlawfully obtain or use firearms, this bill would create a new federal crime that explicitly targets individuals who are in lawful possession of a firearm if they fail to register in a mere 24 hours. I think an overwhelming majority of lawful gun owners will report the true theft or genuine loss of their firearm without the threat of criminal liability. To create a new federal crime that extends criminal liability only to law gun owners clearly misses the mark."
S. 146 -- School Safety and Campus Enhancements Act of 2013, Introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)
Authorizes school security grants by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and authorizes the Department of Justice to create the National Center for Campus Public Safety. This existing program has enabled schools to install surveillance cameras, institute emergency action plans, and establish direct communication with law enforcement to reduce emergency response times. Hatch voted YES.
HATCH: "These security measures will assist the respective school systems and could go a long way towards mitigating disastrous violent encounters. It provides tangible measures to expedite communication between the school and law enforcement as well as appropriate emergency responses to violence that occurs in our schools."