Honestly, there’s been so much activity around the issue of common-sense gun reform on Capitol Hill the past month that our heads are literally (well almost) spinning. Let us try to break it down for you:
- Keeping its promise, the House passed two bills the end of February to rein in gun violence. On February 27, the House overwhelmingly passed H.R. 8, “The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019,” which will close the current loopholes in existing law by expanding background checks to include so-called “private sales” occurring at gun shows and over the internet. Currently, about 25% of gun sales involve no background check. The next day it debated and passed H.R. 1112, “The Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019,” which closes the Charleston loophole of “delayed denial” where federally licensed dealers can sell guns after three business days even if a background check has not yet been completed. It is through this loophole that the killer of nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, was able to obtain his firearm. This legislation extends the initial review period from three to ten business days.
- Attention now shifts to the Senate, where, in spite of McConnell’s objections, pressure from all angles is being applied to force a debate in that body on S. 42, the companion bill to H.R. 8. As our WNDC Tweet stated, the House respected what 97% of Americans support instead of what the gun lobby demands of the
politicians it controls. The Senate needs to do the same. In this connection, we invite you to join our task force and D.C. Moms Demand Action for Thursday evening “phone banking happy hours” from 6:30-8:30 pm at WNDC. In addition, our task force plans to work with our WNDC National members, asking them to demand action from their Senators at in-state town hall meetings, and through phone calls, emails and letters.
- Sen. Lindsey Graham, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced his committee will hold a hearing on gun violence March 26. The hearing is expected to cover the “extreme risk protection” or “red flag” laws” that many states have passed. “ERPO” laws give judges the power to temporarily keep guns away from those who show signs of harming either themselves or others and is the type of law that might have prevented the Parkland, Florida, massacre. We’re also hoping that Democrats use this opportunity to address universal background checks legislation, pending in the Senate.
- On March 13, both the House and Senate came together to introduce legislation addressing purchases of ammunition. Named after Jaime Guttenberg, one of 17 killed in Parkland, Florida, “Jaime’s Law” will require universal background checks for ammunitions sales, with some select exceptions. It’s time to close the #AmmoLoophole!
- On March 7, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies held a hearing to address the public health emergency of gun violence, specifically the ability of the CDC to conduct research. Chairwoman DeLauro had this to say: “It is time we support public research of gun violence too. We did until the Dickey Amendment in the 1990’s. It did not ban the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from researching. However, it had a chilling result, severely discouraging it.” In this connection, the WNDC Board is expected to approve our request to have the Club sign on to a large coalition letter urging Congress to appropriate $50 million in the FY 2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies bill specifically for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health to research gun violence. The country needs appropriate and evidence-based solutions, and this can only happen when there is adequately-funded research.
— Shelly Livingston and Ellen McGovern, Co-Chairs, Task Force to Prevent Gun Violence