Sen. Warren, Rep. Johnson Unveil Comprehensive Legislation to Help End Epidemic of Gun Violence in America

January 30, 2020
Press Release

Sweeping Bill Implements a Series of Common-Sense Reforms to Address Deadly Crisis

Gun Violence Prevention Activists Applaud Warren-Johnson Leadership, Bold Action on Guns

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA) introduced the House version of the Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act, which includes and builds upon Congressional Democrats’ strongest gun safety legislation in one bold, comprehensive bill that works to end the epidemic of gun violence in America. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced the Senate version of the bill.

“This big, bold proposal—which combines and builds upon a number of common-sense measures introduced by my colleagues in Congress—would treat the epidemic of gun violence in the United States like the public health crisis that it is, help protect our children, and make our communities safer,” said Senator Warren. “With approximately 100 Americans killed every day from gun violence, it’s long past time for Congress to stand up to the gun lobby and confront this deadly crisis head-on.”

“I commend Sen. Warren for taking bold action to address the scourge of gun violence in our nation, and I’m proud to introduce its companion in the House,” said Rep. Johnson. “The Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act will save lives and make our country safer – without infringing on any law-abiding individual’s right to own firearms. This comprehensive bill is a compilation of the best ideas to create a workable set of laws that will strengthen life-saving background checks, protect communities with bolstered enforcement, improve mental health services and fuel research to make guns safer. It is time for Congress come together and end the epidemic of gun violence in this country once and for all.”

Every day — in their homes and on their sidewalks, in their schools and supermarkets, in their places of worship and workplaces — Americans are killed or injured by gun violence. In 2017, gun violence claimed the lives of 39,773 people in the U.S.—the highest number of gun-related deaths since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began tracking the data in 1968.  According to Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 100 people are killed with guns in the U.S. every single day, 4 of which are children or teens. This is a distinctly American crisis, with the U.S. having nearly half of the estimated 857 million civilian-owned guns in the world, and a gun homicide rate that is 25 times higher and a gun suicide rate that is 10 times higher than that of other comparable countries.

Since 2013, Georgia alone has suffered more than 90 mass shootings. Nearly 200 children and more than 560 teenagers have been killed or injured during that time, and more than 3,500 Georgians have lost their lives to gun violence. 

Federal law has failed to address this deadly epidemic. Federal gun laws are rife with loopholes and contradictions, and have been severely weakened by the gun industry, which has worked to hamstring meaningful regulation, shield the gun industry from liability, and weaken the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) — the agency tasked with enforcing gun laws.

The Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act would help address this deadly crisis. The bill would:

  • Create a federal gun licensing system and require a federal or state-issued firearms license to purchase or own a gun and establish a grant program to help states set up their own systems.
  • Require universal background checks, close legal loopholes that allow individuals to skirt background check requirements and require background check denials to be reported to law enforcement.
  • Keep guns out of the wrong hands by banning individuals who present safety risks from buying guns, establishing Extreme Risk Protection Order systems, and cracking down on gun theft.
  • Ensure that guns are used and stored responsibly by raising the minimum age for all gun or ammunition purchases to 21, establishing a 7-day waiting period for the purchase of all guns, strengthening gun storage laws, and banning guns on all school campuses.
  • Keep weapons of war off our streets by banning military-style assault weapons, lethal gun accessories, and untraceable and undetectable firearms.
  • Crack down on gun trafficking by banning bulk gun purchases and establishing a new law to specifically ban gun trafficking.
  • Improve oversight of gun dealers by strengthening ATF’s authority to inspect gun shops, enhancing record-keeping requirements for gun dealers, and repealing harmful appropriations riders that limit law enforcement’s ability to trace guns that are used in crimes and hold gun dealers accountable when they break the law.
  • Hold the gun industry accountable by clarifying that gun manufacturers can be held liable for civil penalties for the harms their guns cause, authorizing the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to address safety defects in firearms and firearm accessories, and raising the excise tax on gun sales to 30% and ammunition sales to 50%.
  • Invest in research and community-based gun violence prevention by providing $100 million in annual funding for federal research into gun violence and creating a new grant program to provide $100 million per year for gun violence intervention programs.

Democrats have been leading the fight to pass common-sense legislation to end gun violence and save lives. The Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act incorporates a number of bills led by other members, including:

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, NY

“I’m proud to join with Senator Warren and Congressman Johnson to introduce the Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act which, among other critical policies, includes two proposals I have long fought for; making gun trafficking and straw purchases the federal felony it should be and funding federal gun violence research. Every day more than 300 people are shot in our country – Congress’ inaction is literally killing people. We need to take bold action, and we need to do it now.”

Congressman Mike Quigley, IL

“For too long, Americans have faced the threat of gun violence at work, at school, at their places of worship, and everywhere in between. The time has come for Congress to champion ambitious legislation to address this epidemic,” said Quigley. “My NICS Denial Act is a common sense, bi-partisan measure to help protect our communities. I’m grateful to Senator Warren and Congressman Johnson for including my legislation in the Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act and I look forward to working with them to end the gun violence epidemic once and for all.”

Congressman Joe Morelle, NY

“We are facing an epidemic of gun violence across America, and it is long past time that we take action to better protect our streets and our families from senseless tragedy,” said Congressman Joe Morelle. “I am particularly proud that my bill to strengthen regulations for gun dealers has been included in this legislation in order to prevent thefts that allow legal firearms to flow into the black market and the hands of dangerous criminals. I am grateful to Congressman Johnson and Senator Warren for their leadership and bold action to end the gun violence that has devastated too many neighborhoods across America.”

Congresswoman Lori Trahan, MA

“For too long, Congress has remained on the sidelines as families and communities across the United States are torn apart by preventable gun violence. Even as our sisters and brothers call for action, the gun lobby has maintained its blockade on essential reforms. No more. We have a window of opportunity to save lives and reject the notion that widespread gun violence is the price of freedom. I’ve been proud to support commonsense gun safety reforms like universal background checks, red-flag laws, banning weapons of war, and closing the Charleston loophole since coming to Congress, and I am proud to join with Senator Warren, Representative Johnson, and our colleagues to advocate for this important package that, if passed, will save lives,” said Congresswoman Trahan.

Congressman Anthony Brown, MD

“My family, like far too many, has experienced the toll of gun violence firsthand,” said Rep. Anthony Brown. “Domestic abusers, stalkers, persons convicted of dating violence and those with temporary restraining orders should never be allowed to purchase a firearm. We know the gaps in our system, we know that abusers exploit those loopholes to escalate their violence and we know that inaction has resulted in heartbreaking, preventable tragedies. I commend my colleagues, Senator Warren and Representative Johnson, for including my bill to close the ‘dating loophole’ in this package as well as language similar to my ‘Raise the Age Act’ which raises the minimum age to buy assault-style weapons. It’s our moral duty to get this done.”

Congressman Joseph Kennedy III, MA

“This nation does not have to stand by helpless as bullets shatter the peace and silence of our communities every single day,” said Congressman Kennedy. “Ending gun violence, restoring safety in our neighborhoods, strengthening anti-violence programs, and investing in mental health treatment requires a comprehensive approach that is intersectional and intergenerational. With the Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act, we can take action in the memory of those senselessly taken by gun violence as well as the mourning families left behind.”

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, CT

“Too many people in our country are dying from senseless gun violence, and Congress must take decisive action to save lives,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “The Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act contains important improvements to safe gun storage modeled on my bill, Ethan’s Law. In addition, by banning assault weapons, expanding gun violence research funding—which my House Appropriations Subcommittee funded for the first time in more than two decades—and much more, we can keep families from the devastation of losing their loved ones. I am proud to join Senator Warren and Congressman Johnson on this comprehensive gun violence prevention legislation. Enough is enough.”

Betty Maddox Battle, founder of Grieving Relatives of Conyers

“Gun violence is an epidemic in our community,” said Betty Maddox Battle, founder of Grieving Relatives of Conyers, a support group for families who have lost loved ones to gun violence. “I applaud Congressman Johnson’s bold leadership. Unlike most politicans, he listens to and understands us. This is a bold, multi-faceted approach to gun viloence that includes policy but also funding for research, intervention and prevention measures. As a mother who lost her son to gun violence, this legislation gives me hope and moves us in a direction our community and nation have needed for long, long time.”

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