It is time for Congress to act on gun reform.
The teenagers who survived the recent deadly Parkland shooting have shown extraordinary courage to speak up with loud calls for gun reform. In the midst of grieving for their friends and family, they are the only ones who are able to see these tragedies for what they are: a failure of leadership.
What does it say about the state of our leadership in this country when the only ones making sense in a debate of this magnitude aren’t even old enough to vote? Every year, 114,000 Americans are shot. There isn’t a community that hasn’t been, or won’t be, impacted by gun violence. And yet we do nothing — a tacit admission that killing kids is okay.
As a mother, I can say with certainty that it is not okay that our children aren’t safe in their own schools. It’s not okay that a single person who hasn’t even turned 18 can acquire a deadly assault-style weapon and a bunch of magazines and end over a dozen lives. It’s not okay — and it’s up to us, the adults, to stop it.
With the GOP Congress throwing their hands up and President Trump blaming the FBI rather than addressing the real culprit, the time has come for Democrats to be the adults in the room.
As the voters of the Third District know, only we can break the disturbing cycle of offering condolences, wondering why we can’t do more and then moving on. We need to realize that our deepest and most sincere prayers will not keep our kids safe from gun violence.
Massachusetts is an excellent role model on gun control for an out-of-touch Congress to follow. We’ve banned semi-automatic assault weapons, prohibited the sale of dangerous handguns, and are cracking down on copycat weapons meant to skirt the assault weapons ban. It’s time for Washington to follow our lead.
In Congress, I’ll stand on the side of protecting our children’s lives and fighting for those laws.
Having worked in Congress for a decade under Marty Meehan to successfully pass campaign finance reform in a Republican Congress, I know a thing or two about getting things done on the Hill — and bringing people together on both sides of an issue. That’s what we need now.
As Congressman Meehan’s Chief of Staff, I collaborated on many important gun control policy positions, including voting “no” on prohibiting product misuse lawsuits on gun manufacturers, voting no on prohibiting suing gun makers and sellers for gun misuse, and voting no on decreasing gun waiting period from three days to one. For these stances, Congressman Meehan received an F rating from the NRA, indicating a pro-gun control record. It’s the only F I’ve ever be proud of, and I am looking forward to earning one of my own.
We cannot continue to stand by and let the frequency of these mass shootings lull us into helpless resignation. Gun violence cannot continue to fall victim to partisan politics — our children’s lives are at stake.
Every day, we lose an average of more than 90 mothers, fathers, sons and daughters to senseless gun violence, according to an August 2017 policy primer from the DCCC. And based on data from “Women Under the Gun” (a report out of the Center for American Progress), from 2001 to 2012, more than 6,410 women were murdered in the US by an intimate partner using a gun. In fact, according to the Gifford’s Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a woman is five times more likely to die in a domestic violence situation when a gun is present. Loopholes exist in current law, allowing many domestic abusers and stalkers to legally purchase and possess firearms — posing a disproportionate threat to women and families around the nation. I will support federal policy to block convicted stalkers and domestic abusers — including dating partners and individuals with restraining orders against them — from buying and possessing guns.
Oppose concealed carry reciprocity
States currently set their own standards around who can carry a concealed weapon in public, but according to the Giffords Law Center, legislation proposed by the gun lobby would override state laws and mandate that states allow concealed carry holders from across the country to carry in their state. This means that states with the highest permitting standards will have to recognize carry permits from every other state, including states with weak or even nonexistent standards. I believe we need common sense efforts to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of violent criminals, domestic abusers and potential terrorists. I would not support legislation proposed by the gun lobby that would override state laws and require states like Massachusetts to allow concealed carry holders from across the country to carry in our state.
Since 1934, federal law has required that individuals federally register and undergo an extensive background check for some of the most deadly weapons available for purchase, including machine guns and silencers. According to the Gifford Law Center, the gun lobby is advancing legislation that would deregulate silencers by removing them from the purview of the federal National Firearms Act. This would allow individuals to sell silencers through unlicensed, private dealers without a background check, making it easier for dangerous individuals to get their hands on these weapons and conceal gunshots, putting communities and law enforcement at risk. According to Walpole Police Chief John Carmichael in an August 2017 op-ed in the Boston Globe, “the purpose of a suppressor, or silencer, is to reduce the noise emitted from the weapon when fired and to minimize muzzle flash. This accessory certainly has some legitimate benefit for law enforcement and military operations but serves no real purpose for civilian use.” I would oppose passage of legislation that would deregulate silencers by removing them from the purview of the National Firearms Act.
Since 1934, the National Firearms Act has required that individuals federally register their firearms, but according to the Gifford Law Center, this act is undermined by a loophole that allows individuals on the terrorist watch list to easily pass a background check and purchase guns, no questions asked. I would support legislation to close the loophole that allows individuals on the terrorist watch list to pass background checks and purchase guns with no questions asked.
Federal law requires all licensed gun dealers to conduct criminal background checks on purchases of guns, however this requirement does not extend to the transfer of ownership of guns. Millions of gun transfers are conducted by unlicensed dealers, including at gun shows and online. According to a recent Quinnipiac University Poll, “97% of gun owners support background checks for all gun sales.” It is an idea whose time has come. I support closing the “gun show loophole” to ensure that gun sales made at gun shows, on the web, and via other unlicensed sellers are subject to criminal background checks.
There are currently no federal laws that make interstate gun trafficking a serious crime, or that contain strong penalties to punish some purchasers currently only subject to paperwork violations. Like the Gifford Law Center, I support new anti-gun trafficking legislation that will establish gun trafficking as a serious federal offense and introduce new penalties to deter gun trafficking by “straw purchasers.”
Legislation alone, however, is not enough. We need to ensure that federal and state law enforcement agencies have the resources they need to get gun traffickers off our streets. I support the creation of a federal gun trafficking task force.
Funding for gun violence research
Thanks to a gun lobby-backed law that essentially froze federally funded gun violence research, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have not conducted research on gun violence since the 1990’s. I will work to reinstate federal funding for gun violence research so that we can better understand the causes and impacts of gun violence. We are losing too many of our mothers, fathers, sons and daughters to senseless gun violence.
Urban gun violence
Concentrated areas of gun violence create a cycle that doubles the probability that a young person will commit a violent act within two years, according to the Giffords Law Center — particularly in urban communities of color across the U.S. which are most impacted by gun homicide. I support consistent federal funding for community-based intervention programs that are proven to break this cycle of violence.
Repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA)
The Brady Campaign notes that for the last decade, the gun industry has enjoyed legal protection not afforded to any other industry in America, facilitating countless deaths and mass shootings with total impunity “What is good for the gun lobby has proven to be bad for families across the country who are denied justice from the very industry that is responsible for 33,000 American deaths every year,” according to the Giffords Law Center. We need to put an end to that injustice and protect consumer and individual rights. I support repeal of PLCAA.
Bringing back the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban
From 1994 to 2004, the federal government banned semi-automatic assault rifles, including the AR-15, which was used in the Parkland, Las Vegas, Pulse Nightclub, and Sandy Hook shootings. Every man, woman, and child in this country is safer when weapons of mass destruction such as the AR-15 cannot be purchased in the United States. I support legislation that outlaws the purchase, sale, and possession of assault rifles.
During the 10 years the ban was in effect, this country averaged 1.6 mass shootings per year. From 2005 to 2015, the number of mass shootings per year increased to over 4 per year according to data compiled by the Huffington Post. Similarly, The Washington Post found that while the ban was in effect, the number of mass shootings in the United States was 12, resulting in 89 deaths. From 2004 to 2014 the number increased to 34 incidents with 304 deaths. The death toll will continue to grow the longer Congress bows to the demands of the gun lobby and refuses to take desperately needed action.
After the Oklahoma City Bombing, the government banned large quantities of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and no terror attacks using that compound have happened since. Most weapons used to commit crimes are purchased lawfully. It is time for common sense laws, it is time for action, and it is time to return to policy that works. The federal government has the responsibility to provide for the common defense by standing up to the NRA, whose money funds murder.
Government buy-back programs
I support statewide gun buy-back and amnesty programs. Illegal firearm possession is a serious issue and accounts for a significant portion of gun violence and related crime across the country. Those who turn their guns over to their local governments should receive the market value of their firearm in return, with no questions asked, and the guns will be destroyed. These programs have taken place in Massachusetts, Arizona, California, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey and Washington, and have removed thousands of deadly firearms from our communities.
I would support legislation that created a grace period in which the federal government would be responsible for buying all semi-automatic weapons from current gun owners. At the end of this period, owning an assault rifle without a special permit for approved dealers and collectors would be considered a felony.
Banning Bump Stocks
In Massachusetts, we banned bump stocks — attachments that enable semi automatic rifles to fire faster — after the horrific shooting at Las Vegas because it was just common sense. Bump stocks serve no other purpose than to inflict as much damage as possible. I will bring the common sense approach of Massachusetts to Washington by supporting a universal ban on bump stocks.