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Chairman Thompson Statement on Senate Vote Against Background Checks for Criminals, Dangerously Mentally Ill

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, issued the following statement on the Senate vote against the Manchin-Toomey expanded background checks amendment.

"I'm disappointed with the Senate for going against the will of nearly 90 percent of the American people and voting down this anti-crime, pro-gun, pro-Second Amendment bipartisan compromise. Voting "no" on this amendment is a vote to allow criminals and the dangerously mentally ill easy access to guns and a vote against lawful gun-owners and the Second Amendment. You can't hold the position that criminals or the dangerously mentally ill shouldn't have firearms and be against background checks -- that's incongruent. Background checks are the first line of defense.

"The only thing more disappointing to the American people than the Senate voting this amendment down would be for the House to not vote on it at all. Pete King and I introduced bipartisan legislation to expand background checks in the House and the American people deserve a vote on it."

The bipartisan King-Thompson legislation introduced this week is identical to the bipartisan agreement on background checks struck by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA). The bill is co-authored by U.S. Reps. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Pat Meehan (R-PA), Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and Peter Defazio (D-OR).

This bipartisan legislation is anti-criminal and pro-lawful gun owner. It will expand 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 it 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 nearly 90,000 sales to criminals, domestic abusers, those with serious mental illnesses, and other prohibited purchasers. However, there is no way of knowing if those near 90,000 prohibited purchasers bought a gun at a gun show or over the internet after being denied at a federally licensed dealer. The King-Thompson bill helps fix this by expanding the current background check system to close these loopholes.

The legislation also supports the Second Amendment rights of lawful gun owners. It provides reasonable exceptions to the background check requirement for firearm transfers between family, friends and hunting buddies. It explicitly bans the federal government from creating a registry and makes the misuse of records to create a registry a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. It allows active military to buy firearms in their home states and the state in which they are stationed. And it allows gun owners to purchase firearms with a state concealed carry permit issued within the last five years in lieu of a background check because background checks are required to receive conceal carry permits.

Chairman Thompson is a hunter, gun owner, supporter of the Second Amendment, and wounded combat veteran who carried an assault rifle in Vietnam.

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