Rep. Kelly Offers Three Bills to Address Gun Violence
Congresswoman Robin Kelly, vice chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, introduced three bills to bring commonsense to federal gun policy.
Her first bill, the Recognizing Gun Violence as a Public Health Emergency Act (HR 1114), would require the U.S. Surgeon General to provide an annual report to Congress on the public health impacts and cost of gun violence in America – an epidemic that claims nearly 40,000 American lives each and every year.
“The Surgeon General is our nation’s doctor. They are a trusted voice on public health and it is clear that gun violence IS a public health crisis. Each year, we lose nearly 40,000 Americans and billions in healthcare and economic costs to gun violence, not to mention the long-term mental and physical health impacts in our communities. We need the nation’s doctor informing Congress about this crisis and possible solutions,” said Congresswoman Robin Kelly, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust and member of the Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee.
After leaving office, former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop attempted to raise gun violence as a public health issue in the 1980s, likewise, former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy repeatedly used his platform to call for action to address this public health threat.
"Thank you to Congresswoman Robin Kelly for introducing this first of its kind legislation on Capitol Hill. The 1964 US Surgeon General's report on Smoking and Health catalyzed profound change. It raised awareness, fostered research, and dispelled myths about the health hazards of smoking. A window of opportunity has now opened in America to move the firearm safety conversation forward through a deeper understanding of the public health benefits, harms, and risks associated with firearm ownership," said John Maa, MD FACS, Immediate Past President, San Francisco Marin Medical Society.
The second bill, the Firearm Safety Act (HR 1115), would extend the jurisdiction of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to firearms, ammunition and firearm accessories.
“This is another commonsense step toward reducing gun violence. We know that simple design tweaks significantly reduce the dangers presented by firearms, yet our consumer safety experts are barred from examining these changes and reporting on their effectiveness,” said Congresswoman Kelly, who is also a member of the Energy and Commerce Consumer Protection subcommittee. “If CPSC has jurisdiction over something as safe and cuddly as a child’s teddy bear, they should be part of the effort to make guns safer for all.”
"The gun lobby shouldn't be exempt from consumer product oversight. Just like parents look to the Consumer Product Safety Commission to protect their children from unsafe strollers and toys, they should be able to rely on the experts to keep them safe from guns that can be fired by their toddler," said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. "It's time to let the experts hold gun manufacturers accountable, and allow Americans to make informed decisions about the products they have in their homes."
The third bill she introduced is the Keeping Guns from High-Risk Individuals Act (HR 1116). This bill would prevent individuals with violent records from accessing guns. Specifically, it would prohibit:
- Individuals convicted of violent misdemeanors, such as misdemeanor assault, from purchasing a gun for 10 years,
- Individuals convicted of a violent crime as a juvenile from purchasing a gun until the age of 25,
- Individuals convicted of two or more crimes involving drugs or alcohol within a three-year period from making a purchase for 10 years, and
- Convicted stalkers or domestic violence abusers from purchasing a gun.
“When I first ran for office, I had an amazing campaign volunteer on my team. Tragically, a year after I took my oath of office, she was murdered in front of her young son and then her husband killed himself. Sadly, she is not alone. More than half of murdered American women are killed by a partner or ex-partner and their weapon of choice is most often a gun,” said Congresswoman Robin Kelly. “This bill is a commonsense step toward preventing high-risk individuals, like domestic abusers, stalkers and violent criminals, from accessing firearms. Everyone, especially responsible gun owners, should be able to get behind efforts to prevent irresponsible gun owners.”
This legislation has won support from many gun violence prevention advocacy organizations and survivors of domestic violence, like Chnika Clark.
“I'll never forget waking up with a gun in my face. I was in an eight-year relationship, and one week after I broke up with my partner, he threatened to shoot me, my children, and our dog. Then he did it -- he shot me twice before shooting himself in the head. My children and I must live with this memory forever. And all because a man who never should have had a gun was able to get his hands on a deadly weapon. Guns make domestic violence even more dangerous. The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed. No one should have to suffer because of a gun that’s in the wrong hands. This bill is important and needed so that women can live without fear of stalking or threats from an armed abuser. Women like me deserve to feel safe in our own homes,” said Clark, a domestic violence survivor. Chnika Clark’s full story in available here.
This legislation is designed to complimentary the Bipartisan Background Check Act, HR 8, of which the Congresswoman is an original co-sponsor.
“Taken together, these bills bring some commonsense to America’s outdated and dangerous gun safety laws. We know that no single bill can prevent all gun violence but each of these bills will help. It’s past time for Congress to do something and save lives,” concluded Congresswoman Kelly.