Posts in US Congress
House Democrats Promise Background Check Bill

Current federal law require background checks from licensed firearm dealers to be run through the National Instant Background Check System. There’s a loophole in the law, though, that is exploited when guns are sold online or by a private dealer at a gun show. Closing those loopholes - making background checks universal - has long been a goal of gun safety advocates, and is supported almost unanimously by the American people. The newly installed Democratic Congress wants to tackle it next year, according to Kara Voght of Mother Jones:

The precise details of the legislation have not been finalized; [Rep. Mike] Thompson is still discussing the bill with his fellow Democrats and plans to release more specifics sometime before the end of the year. Pelosi’s office told Mother Jones it could not confirm details about when the bill would be introduced in the next session, but its emergence makes good on a promise Pelosi made to the student survivors of the Parkland shooting—with whom she regularly discusses gun reform priorities—about passing universal background checks if Democrats regained control of the House.

And while the bill will almost certainly pass the House, there’s little evidenceto suggest Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will bring it up for a vote or that President Donald Trump would be willing to sign it. But success in the House would be a signal to voters of Democrats’ commitment to the issue. A House vote would also put Republicans on the record on the matter—something that hasn’t happened during eight years of GOP control.

Study: More than Half of Women Murdered Last Year Were Killed by Partners or Family

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime has released a study showing that, for women, “home is the most dangerous place.” Of 87,000 women killed worldwide last year, 58% were murdered by intimate partners or family members, up 11 percent from the last finding in 2012. In America, we have an extra layer to deal with:

In the U.S., women are 16 times more likely to be shot and killed than women in other developed nations, according to the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety. In an average month, 50 American women are shot and killed by an intimate partner, according to the group, and the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed.

Federal law prohibits those with domestic violence convictions from purchasing or possessing guns, but advocates say dangerous gaps still exist and states to do more to ensure abusers turn over their guns.

Currently, only nine states require people to turn in weapons they already own when placed under a temporary restraining order - California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, North Carolina, New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, and only 12 require law enforcement to remove guns from the scene of a domestic violence incident.

Research: Lax Gun Laws are Killing Our Kids

There’s a reason the NRA and its allies have been desperate to prevent the funding of studies into gun violence in America - every time we do get data, the numbers are terrible. Now, as Megan Knowles reports in American Hospital News, research presented at the conference of the Academy of Pediatrics shows that lax gun laws could cause firearm deaths among children to double:

Additionally, firearm laws focused on child access prevention, including locking mechanisms or storage requirements, were tied to lower firearm suicide rates among children. States without these laws had pediatric firearm suicide rates more than four times as high as states with child access prevention laws.

"Firearm-related injuries are the second leading cause of death among children in the United States, but we found a clear discrepancy in where those deaths happen that corresponds with the strength of states' firearm legislation," said lead author Stephanie Chao, MD. "In states with lenient laws, children die at alarmingly greater rates.”

Toomey Still Open to Moving Background Check Legislation in Senate
 Pat Toomey (R-PA)

Pat Toomey (R-PA)

A day after his fellow Pennsylvanian Sen. Bob Casey (D) spoke specifically about the need to close loopholes in federal background checks for firearm purchases, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey indicated that he was still committed to doing the same.

“I know there are strongly held views on the Second Amendment, and I’m one of those senators who has strongly held views on the Second Amendment, but I’m also convinced there is common ground among people who have differing views on the Second Amendment,” he said in Senate floor speech Wednesday.

Lots of politicians talk about “closing loopholes” in background checks, but what exactly does that mean? In this case, Toomey is looking specifically at mandating background checks for people who buy guns online or at gun shows. It’s also mentioned religiously that 86% of the public supports legislation to do exactly this. But as Toomey and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) found out in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook, that means nothing in the United States Senate.

Toomey thinks that some very incremental action earlier this year that created improvement to the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) means that senators could be open to taking the next step.

Pennsylvania's Casey Reaffirms Commitment to Tougher Gun Laws

From Natasha Brown, CBS3 Philly:

[Sen. Bob] Casey’s agenda includes fighting for tougher gun laws while respecting the Second Amendment rights.

“We have got to have a universal background check bill that should be in place, a limitation on the magazine so you don’t have one person able to shoot hundreds of bullets in a public place,” explained Casey.

Dems Look to Move Quickly on Background Checks

“The nation's latest mass shooting has rekindled the fire under Democrats to use their newly won majority to strengthen federal gun laws in the next Congress,” The Hill reports.

[Rep. Mike] Quigley is all for pushing bold reforms, including a ban on assault weapons, but is promoting the idea of securing early victories on more popular measures.

“Let’s start where we have some commonality,” he said. “The vast majority of Americans, the majority of gun owners, the majority of NRA [National Rifle Association] members support universal background checks.

“That’s a good place to start.”

Last month, 86% of the country said that they would be more inclined to vote for a candidate who wants to require universal background checks on gun purchases. Last Tuesday, they did exactly that. The mandate on this issue (and many others related to gun regulation) is pretty clear. Everyone knows the politics of the Senate make any legislation that would restrict firearms a tough lift, but there’s no reason a Democratic-controlled House can’t move this type of bill.

Broad Coalition Favors New Gun Regulation

From NBC News:

Most voters in today's midterm election — 60 percent — support stricter gun control policies, according to early results from the the NBC News Exit Poll. This includes 42 percent of gun owners in addition to 76 percent of those who do not own a gun. 

Gun policy trails other issues as the top concern for midterm voters, the poll found. Just one in 10 voters named it as the most important issue facing the country, according to early results. These voters, though, are proving to be a key voting bloc for Democrats in this year’s House contests. More than seven in 10 voters who put gun policy at the top of their issue list voted for the Democrat today in the House race in their district. Just 28 percent voted for the Republican.

Study: Guns Send 8,300 Children To Hospitals Annually

Maggie Fox, NBC News:

Gunshot wounds put an average of 8,300 U.S. kids into the hospital every year, according to a new analysis released Monday.

Close to half of them were shot on purpose and another 40 percent were shot accidentally, the researchers reported. Six percent of those who made it to the hospital died, the team at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine reported.

“While mass shootings garner significant media and social attention, unfortunately they’re not a good reflection of the actual burden of firearm-related injuries. In our study, we found that for every 100,000 teenagers and children arriving to the emergency department, 11 come for a gun-related injury,” said Dr. Faiz Gani, who worked on the study.

Young Americans Driving Gun Safety as an Electoral Issue

PR Newswire:

A new national poll of young Americans (14- to 29- years-old) finds that school shootings are the most concerning issue when they think about the future of America and that voting age respondents are likely to carry these concerns into voting booths in the midterm elections.  The survey also found broad support for stricter gun laws, even among gun owners.

The comprehensive study, directed by John Della Volpe, CEO of SocialSphere and Director of Polling at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics, began in June 2018 with six focus groups and town meetings with young Americans in Atlanta, Columbus and Los Angeles.

More from the study:

  • 70% of young Americans believe gun laws should be more strict, including 71% that are of voting age.

  • 67% of 18-to-29 year olds say school shootings are “one of America’s most pressing issues”

  • 46% have participated in a school shooting drill, but only 16% say it made them feel safer.

Pew: Gun Regulations are Broadly Popular

Gun regulation is almost always painted as a “divisive issue.” It’s part of the reason why campaigns and candidates have been hesitant to give it weight on par with jobs, or the economy, or healthcare. But a recent poll from Pew Research found that not only do more Americans hold controlling gun ownership as more important than gun rights, but that there is broad, bipartisan support for badly needed reforms,

Among Republicans:

  • 89% agree the mentally ill should be prevented from owning guns (89% among Democrats)

  • 83% favor banning individuals on the no fly list from purchasing guns (86%)

  • 79% support background checks for private sales and at gun shows (91%)

  • 58% favor the creation of a federal database to track gun sales (88%)

  • 51% support banning high capacity magazines (81%)

  • 50% favor a ban on assault weapons (81%)