As noted in recent news reports, Valentine’s Day marked the third anniversary of the horrific mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Using the same type of weapon previously used to kill 26 people in 2012 at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Parkland shooter used a military-style rifle to take the lives of 17 people and wound 17 others. Each anniversary of these and other shootings should remind us to ask, “What progress have we made in reducing the risk of gun violence?” Some states have taken action on these issues, but in Michigan we must still answer that question with, “Not much.”
This Administration will not wait for the next mass shooting to heed that call. We will take action to end our epidemic of gun violence and make our schools and communities safer. Today, I am calling on Congress to enact commonsense gun law reforms, including requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets. We owe it to all those we’ve lost and to all those left behind to grieve to make a change. The time to act is now.
Even at this early point in the new legislative session in Congress, we see the first stirrings of action on gun violence issues. Two weeks ago, our Coalition was contacted by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney of New York to make us aware of a bill that she was proposing to provide government funding for research on gun violence. Such funding is essential to develop evidence-based policies to address gun violence issues. Subsequently, she introduced several additional bills to address other aspects of firearms safety and violence reduction. Here are brief descriptions of Rep. Maloney’s proposals if you want to monitor the progress of these bills and keep track of where you representatives stand on these issues. Thus far, Rep. Dan Kildee of Flint is the only member of the Michigan delegation to co-sponsor one of these bills, specifically the funding for gun violence research.
The five more recent bills contain ideas presented generally in each bill’s title, but that are yet to be specified in precise textual language; currently described as “A legislative analyst in the Congressional Research Service will begin analyzing this legislation after text becomes available.” These other five bills were submitted only a few days ago, so it is likely that additional co-sponsors will join in the coming weeks.
- H.R. 825: To authorize the appropriation to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for conducting or supporting research on firearms safety or gun violence prevention. The information we received from Rep. Maloney office indicated the bill would propose authorizing $50 million for relevant research projects. As people interested in gun issues are aware, for many years there was a specific law that blocked federal funding for research on gun issues.
- H.R. 1004: To prohibit the sale of a firearm to, and the purchase of a firearm by, a person who is not coverage by appropriate liability insurance coverage.
- H.R. 1005: To require records of the national instant criminal background check system be retained for at least 90 days.
- H.R. 1006: To require criminal background checks on all firearms transactions at gun shows.
- H.R. 1007: Text of bill is still in development but its title says, “To prevent gun trafficking.”
- H.R. 1008: To provide for the development and use of technology for personalized handguns, to require that all handguns manufactured or sold in, or imported into, the United States incorporate such technology, and for other purposes.
As indicated by our prior email and posting to our website, Virginia enacted a series of gun measures in 2019 when the governor and legislative majorities found common ground on specific violence reduction issues. Similar possibilities now exist with a new president and the dawn of a new legislative session in Congress. We must wait and see if gun violence issues can rise to a place on the congressional action agenda amid a variety of other pressing issues that currently confront our nation.
GUNS DON'T BELONG IN THE CAPITOL.
The Michigan Capitol Commission voted unanimously to support a limited prohibition on citizen-carried firearms inside the state Capitol. However, this ban does not apply to the Capitol grounds or to individuals with conceal carry permits. While an important first step, the Capitol Commission has a long way to go. Show your support and urge your representatives to ban all citizen firearms on the Capitol grounds!
Let’s make our voices heard and put an end to this dangerous practice!