Press Releases

Beyer Applauds Executive Action on Gun Violence Prevention

Calls for Congressional Action

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Washington, January 5, 2016 | Thomas Scanlon (202 225 4376) | comments

Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) released the following statement in support of President Obama’s executive action to help prevent gun violence in America.

“The President’s actions today will help to strengthen the current background check system, and ensure more people undergo those checks before buying a firearm,” said Rep. Beyer. “These actions are long overdue and will help to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. I applaud the President and Attorney General.”

“Given the inherent limits of executive action, the steps announced today are meaningful but modest. The burden remains on Congress and Speaker Paul Ryan to pass a comprehensive solution to curb the epidemic of gun violence that plagues our nation,” said Rep. Beyer. “Expanding background check requirements to include all gun sales, restricting weapons that are manufactured solely to inflict mass casualties, and ensuring guns don't remain in the hands of those who are suffering from mental health issues, are just some of the proposals that Congress should implement today.”

The executive actions announced by the President today will make significant progress in the ongoing struggle to curb gun violence:

·         Toughening background checks nationwide:  The President’s executive actions provide new guidance on existing federal laws, clarifying that any individual in the business of selling firearms must obtain a license through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and therefore conduct background checks on prospective gun purchasers.  These actions also include new measures and resources to make the background check system more efficient and effective.

·         Protecting communities with bolstered enforcement: The executive actions take new steps to promote smart and effective enforcement of our gun laws – including a proposed increase in funding for more ATF agents, greater resources for tracking illegal online firearms trafficking and strengthened domestic violence outreach efforts.  

·         Improving mental health services:  The President is proposing increased investment to expand access to mental health care.  Further, the executive actions remove barriers that prevent the reporting of relevant mental health information to the background check system.  

·         Driving new research into gun safety: The executive actions direct the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security to conduct or sponsor research into new technology to make firearms safer.

The President’s executive actions come after the Republican Congress has repeatedly refused to allow votes on commonsense, bipartisan gun violence prevention legislation – including acting on seven separate occasions to block a vote on a Republican Congressman’s legislation to close the outrageous terror gun loophole that allows suspected terrorists to buy deadly weapons across America.

In March 2015, a bipartisan coalition of U.S. House Members introduced H.R. 1217, the King-Thompson bill to strengthen background checks nationwide.  The legislation, authored by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Rep. Peter King (R-NY), expands the existing background check system to cover all commercial firearm sales, including those at gun shows, over the internet or in classified ads while providing reasonable exceptions for family and friend transfers.  Under the legislation, the current background check system would be expanded to require comprehensive, enforceable and life-saving background checks on all commercial gun sales.

Studies show that every day where background checks are used, the system stops more than 170 felons, some 50 domestic abusers, and nearly 20 fugitives from buying a gun.  However, no system is in place to prevent these same prohibited purchasers from buying identical guns at a gun show, over the internet, or through a newspaper ad with no questions asked – because background checks are not required for these kinds of sales.  The King-Thompson bill closes these outrageous, dangerous loopholes.

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