Since the beginning of my tenure in Congress, I’ve heard from countless students who feel unsafe at school, parents who fear for their children, and families who’ve suffered devastating losses due to firearms. Gun violence is preventable, and it’s shameful that so many in Congress have blocked any legislation that would end this uniquely American epidemic. Tragically no community in America is immune to this crisis as Mainers learned tragically on October 25, 2023 when 18 of our neighbors were killed and 13 injured in Lewiston by a gunman with an assault weapon.
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which was signed into law by President Biden on June 25, 2022, marked the first major Congressional action on gun safety in years. Though I support actions that go much further, I was proud to vote for this package that included funding for red flag laws, enhanced background checks for buyers under 21, investments in mental health, and more life-saving provisions.
Last Congress, I was also proud to support the following legislation which passed the House, but were not considered by the Senate:
- The Enhanced Background Checks Act to close the so-called “Charleston loophole,” which enables some firearms to be transferred by licensed gun dealers before the required background checks have been completed (Passed the US House on March 21, 2021)
- The Protecting Our Kids Act, a comprehensive package of gun violence prevention proposals, including establishing a new federal offense for the import, sale, manufacture, transfer, or possession of a large capacity magazines (Passed the US House on June 9, 2022)
- The Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act to prohibit individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others from possessing a gun by implementing a nationwide “red flag” law. (Passed the US House on June 9, 2022)
In this Congress, I have cosponsored the following commonsense gun reforms:
H.R. 625: Keep Americans Safe Act (Rep. DeGette) would prohibit the importation, sale, possession, or transfer of high or large-capacity ammunition magazines that hold more than fifteen rounds; providing limited exceptions for devices possessed before enactment and for certain current and former law enforcement.
H.R. 698: Assault Weapons Ban Act (Rep. McBath) would prohibit knowingly importing, selling, manufacturing, transferring, or possessing a semiautomatic assault weapon (SAW) or large capacity ammunition feeding device (LCAFD).
H.R. 1478: The Federal Firearm Licensee Act (Rep. Kelly) expands the applicability of federal firearms laws to “facilitators” of firearm sales, such as sellers at gun shows and on online marketplaces, which, in several states, are currently permitted to host large commercial marketplaces that allow for the transfer of firearms to purchasers without first initiating a background check to determine whether the buyers are prohibited under applicable state and/or federal law.
H.R. 6596: Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act (Rep. Hank Johnson) implements bold and robust measures including creating a federal gun licensing system, strengthening background checks, banning military-style assault weapons and other lethal accessories like bump stocks, holding the gun industry accountable for wrongdoing, and investing in research and community-based gun violence interruption programs.
Americans overwhelmingly support gun violence prevention legislation.
As a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, I also fought to include the first funding for CDC and NIH to research gun violence research in two decades and continue to request it every year. This funding was included through the appropriations process in Fiscal Year (FY) 22 and FY23, $12.5 million each to the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but House Republicans did not include any funding for gun violence research in their proposal for FY24.
In 2016, I joined the late Rep. John Lewis and dozens of my Democratic colleagues in staging a sit-in on the House floor in protest of the GOP leadership’s refusal to allow a vote on a gun control measure following the Orlando nightclub massacre.