Courtney Statement on Need for Senate Action After El Paso and Dayton Mass Shootings
Norwich, CT– Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) released the following statement on the need for Senate action on House-passed gun violence prevention legislation following this weekend’s deadly mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.
“The sickening, infuriating news of mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton has once again raised a wave of questions about whether anything is happening to make this country safer from these repeated attacks on innocents. These questions are coming from Americans of all parties and walks of life. They are looking to Washington for action, but considering the nonstop news cycle that tends to highlight only the gridlock and polarized politics of Washington, they would be forgiven if they thought that truly nothing has actually been happening on the issue of reducing gun violence in the 116th Congress.
“The truth is that there has been movement on several fronts in our first 200 days. For the first time in 25 years, the House of Representatives has held actual committee consideration, floor debates, and votes on a number of long-overdue measures, like expanding background checks, closing what’s known as the ‘Charleston Loophole’, and other widely supported efforts that have been suffocated and blocked from meaningful consideration for years by the forces of special interest groups.
“All of the bills that the House has taken action have languished in the Senate without action, despite some bipartisan support. The question of ‘Why doesn’t Congress do something?’, should really be, “Why doesn’t the Senate take up these bills that have deep popular support, and that have already passed the House?”. It is time for the Senate, once dubbed ‘The Greatest Deliberative Body in the World’, to live up to its reputation and at least be bold enough to debate and vote on an issue that is sapping the confidence of every American to feel safe.”
House-passed legislation that has not been acted on in the Senate:
- Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 (H.R. 8) – H.R. 8 expands background checks to cover nearly all sales and transfers of firearms, closing the “gun show loophole” which allows people to purchase guns without going through a background check . This bill passed the House on February 27, 2019 by a vote of 240-190, with 8 Republicans voting in support.
- Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019 (H.R. 1112) – H.R. 1112 closes the “Charleston Loophole”, which allows a gun purchaser to purchase a gun without the background check being completed. Current law allows a gun seller to proceed with the sale after a three-day period if the background check is delayed – creating the loophole that allowed the killer in the Charleston, South Carolina hate crime in 2015 to purchase the gun used in the attack. According to the FBI, in 2017, 4,864 guns were sold to those who should have been prohibited from owning a gun because of this loophole. This bill increases from three to ten days the amount of time the FBI has to complete a background check before a gun purchaser can take home the firearm. This bill passed the House on February 28, 2019 by a vote of 228-198.
- Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 (H.R. 1585) – H.R. 1585 reaffirms critical protections for women, and includes improvements to address gaps in current law, including closing loopholes to help prevent “intimate partner” homicides by prohibiting persons convicted of misdemeanor stalking or dating violence from possessing firearms. The bill also would require the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to notify law enforcement agencies when a gun purchaser fails a NICS background check due to a previous domestic violence or stalking conviction – providing a heads up to law enforcement that a convicted domestic violence offender may be escalating attacks by trying to purchase a firearm. This bill passed the House on April 4, 2019 by a vote of 263-158.
- Labor-HHS Appropriations Act of 2020 (H.R. 2740) – Included in the omnibus spending bill is a measure that overturns more than 20 years of prohibition on federal research on gun violence, and allocates $50 million for research on the issue, providing $25 million for the National Institutes of Health and $25 million for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to conduct gun violence prevention research. The CDC has not conducted gun violence prevention research since 1996. This bill passed the House on June 19, 2019 by a vote of 226-203.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 33,197 incidents of gun violence just in the year 2019, resulting in 8,784 deaths and 17,457 injuries. Since the beginning of 2019, there have been 255 mass shootings in the United States.