Each of us grieves for the lives lost, the families affected, and I pray for the hundreds who were injured as a result of the worst mass shooting in the history of our country.
As a Member of Congress, I have a greater responsibility than offering thoughts and prayers, just as Congress had a greater responsibility to act after Newtown, Aurora, Charleston, San Bernardino, Orlando and every single death that has resulted from gun violence. And yet, the gun violence continues daily, with Congress ignoring the fact that as Americans we are 25 times more likely to die from gun violence than residents of other industrialized nations.
Responsible steps can and must be taken to protect the rights of Americans to live in a safe society without infringing upon our Second Amendment right to bear arms. Requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning high-capacity ammunition magazines and online ammunition sales, and limiting the ability of individuals to buy military-style assault weapons and silencers will do nothing to infringe upon the right of citizens to keep and use firearms for recreational or self-defense purposes.
For 25 years I’ve consistently voted for measures, including the Brady Bill and the Assault Weapons Ban, to protect the public from violence and safeguard the rights of responsible, law abiding citizens to own firearms. I’ve cosponsored several measures to achieve these goals, including the bipartisan Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act, to strengthen the background check database and require a check for every gun purchase to keep guns out of the wrong hands. Currently, 40 percent of gun sales are made with no background check at all, allowing virtually anyone to purchase a weapon with little to no accountability. Background checks are supported by over 90 percent of Americans and are proven to keep guns out of the wrong hands. Since the Brady Bill passed in 1994, over 3 million convicted felons, domestic abusers, and mentally ill individuals have been stopped from buying guns by this law. In states that have implemented universal background checks such as California, the rate of gun violence is 35 percent lower than states that do not have the same requirement.
We know that it is impossible to prevent every gun death and every mass shooting, but Congress has a moral duty to take action on this threat to public health that kills over 35,000 Americans every year. No family should be forced to endure what the loved ones of the victims in Las Vegas suffered this week, and to the extent that we can reduce that risk Congress must act. We cannot be complicit when American lives are at stake.