In the wake of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, I was named to chair the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. My task force was charged with developing a comprehensive set of policy principles to help reduce and prevent gun violence.
In developing these principles – which ranged from improving mental health services, cracking down on straw purchasers and expanding criminal background checks – I met with virtually everyone: victims of gun violence and gun safety advocates; gun owners, hunters, and outdoor sportsmen and women; federal, state, and local law enforcement; educators and community workers; mental health experts and physicians; representatives of the motion picture, television, music, and video game industries; leaders in our faith communities; representatives of gun manufacturers and gun retailers; cabinet secretaries, my constituents, the Vice President of the United States and the President of the United States.
Of all of my task force’s recommendations, the single most important thing we can do is expand comprehensive criminal background checks. Some states, like ours, already require criminal background checks at gun shows and for internet sales. However, many other states only require checks for purchases made through a licensed gun dealer. It’s far too easy for a criminal in California to drive across the state line, load up with guns from a gun show, and then drive back into our state.
That’s why I have written and introduced bipartisan legislation that would require comprehensive and enforceable criminal background checks for all commercial gun sales. If my bill passed, criminals and other prohibited purchasers wouldn’t be able to bypass a background check by simply going online or to a gun show.
Closing this loophole will reduce the number of places criminals, terrorists, wife beaters and the dangerously mentally ill can buy guns. And, it will save lives.
People on both sides of the aisle and all sides of the issue have said they want to keep guns away from dangerous people. But you can’t do that without background checks. Background checks are how you know if a person buying a gun is a criminal, terrorist or wife beater. They are the first line of defense.
As your representative in Congress, I will always defend your Second Amendment rights, but I will also do everything I can to keep our communities safe from gun violence.
That means passing my background checks bill so criminals, terrorists and domestic abusers can no longer walk into gun shows or go online to buy a firearm without any questions asked.