US Congress

Elections Have Consequences - Congress to Hear Background Check Legislation by Charles Yeganian

One of the Democrat’s first acts upon taking control of the House of Representatives last month was to introduce HR 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, with a purpose of “utiliz[ing] the current background checks process in the United States to ensure individuals prohibited from gun possession are not able to obtain firearms.”

Introduced by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) is cosponsored by 224 Democratic House members and five Republicans. Among the Democratic cosponsors are every member of Congress endorsed by LEAP Forward in 2018 - Cindy Axne, Angie Craig, Antonio Delgado, Josh Harder, Jahana Hayes, Katie Hill, Susie Lee, Tom Malinowski, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Dean Phillips, and Max Rose.

The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee, on which Rep. Mucarsel-Powell sits. A hearing is scheduled for next week, and the NRA is furiously trying to mount opposition, claiming - as they always do - that universal background checks don’t work and would merely entrap law-abiding citizens. Meanwhile, polling taken last week indicated that 92% of those citizens support requiring background checks on all gun buyers.

LEAP Forward is grading action on HR 8 and it’s companion legislation in the Senate, S 42. I will be scoring support for both bills.

Dean Phillips (MN-03) Cosponsors Universal Background Check Legislation by Charles Yeganian

From Melissa Turniten, Lakeshore Weekly News:

“This is not a partisan issue,” Phillips said in a statement. “In fact, the vast majority of Democrats, independents and Republicans support universal background checks on gun sales. Passing H.R. 8 won’t end our gun violence crisis, but it is an important first step, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to join us in advancing this long overdue legislation.”

During his campaign, Phillips said he would be an advocate for gun violence prevention. H.R. 8 would require federal background checks on nearly all firearm sales, including private sales, but would have some exemptions, such as gun exchanges between family members.

This bill would close a loophole that allows people to buy guns at gun shows or online without a background check. Supporters of universal background checks say they can help stop gun violence by keeping guns out of the hands of people who are deemed dangerous, such as people convicted of felonies, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill, a news release explained.

Rep. Mucarsel-Powell Signs on to HR 8 by Charles Yeganian

Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell has cosponsored the first major gun regulation bill of the new Congress, HR 8. From Kevin Derby, Florida Daily:

“The gun violence epidemic has ravaged our country for too long,” said Mucarsel-Powell. “Too many people – including me – have lost a loved one to gun violence. I am under no impression that this bill will bring the number of preventable firearm deaths to zero, but an overwhelming majority of Americans support commonsense gun reform that will help keep those unfit from possessing a firearm from doing so. This is a bipartisan solution, and I urge my colleagues to swiftly get this bill to the president’s desk, and make background checks a reality.”

LEAP Forward is tracking action on HB 8 and is grading support for the bill.

House Democrats Promise Background Check Bill by Charles Yeganian

“House Democrats plan to prioritize a bill that will require a background check for every gun sale, according to multiple sources close to the matter. The legislation represents an aggressive shift in strategy by Democrats and their gun reform allies, who in previous years had tended to pursue more modest background check bills that would have exempted large numbers of gun purchases.” - Kara Voght, Mother Jones

Read More

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

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 by Charles Yeganian

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 by Charles Yeganian

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 by Charles Yeganian

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 by Charles Yeganian

“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 by Charles Yeganian

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 by Charles Yeganian

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.