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Public Statements


Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. THOMPSON of California. Mr. Speaker, 6 months ago, our Nation witnessed a horrible massacre of innocence in Newtown, Connecticut. In the 6 months since, there are two important facts that we should note: first, nearly 5,000 more Americans have been killed by people using guns.

Second, Congress has done absolutely nothing to reduce and prevent these deaths.

The Senate took one vote to expand background checks. Sadly, it failed when a minority of Senators voted against the wishes of 90 percent of Americans. The only thing more disappointing than the Senate voting down this pro-gun owner, anti-criminal legislation is that the House has refused to vote at all.

My Republican colleague, Peter King, and I have introduced H.R. 1565, legislation that's identical to the Senate background check effort. We have 3 Republicans, we have 179 Democrats--a total of 182 coauthors. Surely, we need more support from the Republican side of the aisle.

But the truth is this shouldn't be a controversial bill, and it shouldn't be partisan. Background checks are something everyone in both parties should be able to agree on. Everyone says they're against criminals, terrorists, and the dangerously mentally ill getting guns. But you can't be against that and be against background checks. Background checks are the first line of defense. Our bipartisan bill strengthens that first line of defense.

It's anti-criminal. Right now a criminal can buy a firearm at a gun show, over the Internet, or through a newspaper ad because those sales don't require a background check. Last year, the background check system identified and denied 88,000 gun sales to criminals, domestic abusers, those with dangerous mental illness, and other prohibited purchasers. However, those same criminals could buy those same guns at a gun show or over the Internet without any questions asked because those sales don't require a background check.

Our bill closes this huge loophole, greatly reducing the number of places a criminal can buy a gun, because our bill would require background checks at all gun shows and for Internet or newspaper sales.

Our bill is pro-gun owner and pro-Second Amendment. It provides reasonable exceptions for firearm transfers between families and friends. You won't have to get a background check when you inherit the family rifle or borrow a shotgun for a hunting trip, or purchase a gun from a friend, hunting buddy, or neighbor.

It bans the creation of a Federal registry and makes the misuse of records a felony, punishable up to 15 years in prison. It allows Active Duty military to buy firearms in their home States or the State in which they're stationed. It authorizes the use of State concealed carry permits in lieu of a background check to purchase a firearm. And, it allows interstate handgun sales from licensed dealers.

We have a bill that's ready for the floor. It's bipartisan. It will help keep guns from criminals, terrorists, and the dangerously mentally ill, and it supports the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans. If the bill didn't support the Second Amendment, my name wouldn't be on it. I'm a gun owner, and I believe that law-abiding Americans have a constitutional right to own a firearm. But I'm also a father and a grandfather, and I know that we have a responsibility to do everything we can to reduce gun violence.

This bill deserves a vote. The people of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of the nearly 5,000 people who have been killed since Newtown deserve a vote. Our kids and our grandkids deserve a vote. Mr. Speaker, please give us a vote.

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