Everytown announces new national legislative priorities

Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a part of Everytown, has developed a list of policy priorities that they say Congress “should pass into law to help prevent gun violence of all forms,” one month after the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead.

The White House agenda on guns, says Everytown, calls for “firearm training for school staff and the creation of a school safety commission to determine whether states should increase the age limit for buying rifles and shotguns,” while “walking back support on a number of gun safety proposals such as expanding the background check system to cover all commercial gun sales and closing the ‘boyfriend loophole’ that hurts survivors of domestic violence.”

“The public wants action,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “The states are stepping up and delivering, and Americans know who still blocks the way in Washington – the NRA [National Rifle Association] and the politicians they bankroll. It’s time for Congress to get a backbone and meet the moment, or voters will throw them out in November.”

I asked Jennifer Boylan, Volunteer Leader for Rhode Island Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America if the new national level policy would have any effect on her group’s local advocacy.

“We have historically focused on one bill. Our top priority is the Red Flag bill. I don’t expect that to change,” said Boylan, adding, “I applaud the work that the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence and Rhode Island Senator Joshua Miller (Democrat, District 28, Cranston) and Representative Jason Knight (Democrat, District 67, Warren) are doing on the assault weapons ban and high capacity magazine limit; but our focus remains on supporting the red flag bill.”

Here’s the full Everytown and Moms Demand list of priority policy solutions they want the United States House and Senate to pass in order to reduce gun violence:

  • Congress needs to pass a law requiring criminal background checks on all gun sales. The foundation of any comprehensive gun violence prevention strategy must be background checks for all gun sales. Under current federal law, criminal background checks are only required for sales conducted by licensed dealers. This loophole is easy to exploit, and makes it easy for convicted felons or domestic abusers to acquire guns without a background check, simply by finding an unlicensed seller online or at a gun show. Ninety seven percent of voters support legislation to require criminal background checks on every gun sale and passing such legislation should be Congress’ top priority. The modest Fix NICS Act, while a small step forward, would not expand the background check system to cover unlicensed sales. If all Congress does is pass the Fix NICS Act, it will be an inexcusable failure.
  • Enact a federal Red Flag law. This policy, increasingly being adopted by states — including by Florida just last Friday — empowers family members and law enforcement to petition a judge to temporarily block a person from having guns if they pose a danger to themselves or others. Congress should pass legislation such as the bipartisan S. 2521, the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, to allow for intervention when people like the Parkland shooter exhibit red flags.
  • Prohibit bump stocks. The president has ordered the U.S. Justice Department to propose regulations that ban bump stocks like those used by the shooter in the Las Vegas mass shooting. However, these devices, which harness the recoil of a semi-automatic firearm to mimic automatic fire, are just one form of dangerous “conversion device.” Congress should act immediately to prohibit bump stocks, by passing legislation that covers all conversion devices.
  • Empower law enforcement when criminals try to buy guns. Bipartisan legislation — H.R. 4471 and S. 2492 — would ensure that state law enforcement officials are alerted when criminals break the law and try to buy guns. It would strengthen the background check system by empowering law enforcement with more tools to keep guns away from people who are not allowed to have them.
  • Disarm domestic abusers by closing the “boyfriend loophole.” The federal “boyfriend loophole” allows abusive boyfriends to buy and possess firearms, even if they have a misdemeanor conviction or are subject to a final restraining order, simply because they are not married to their victim. Congress must close this loophole by passing legislation like S. 1539 and the bipartisan H.R. 3207 to protect victims of domestic abuse and save lives.
  • Close the “Charleston loophole.” Federal law requires that licensed gun dealers run criminal background checks on all potential gun buyers. But due to a NRA-backed provision added to the 1993 Brady Bill, the law allows sales to proceed after three business days — even if background check operators have not confirmed the buyer is legally allowed to have guns. The 2015 Charleston church shooter was allowed to purchase firearms because his background check was not completed within three days, even though he should have been prohibited from purchasing firearms. Congress must close this loophole.
  • Prohibit the sale of high-capacity magazines. High capacity magazines played a significant role in some of our country’s deadliest mass shootings — including Las Vegas, Orlando, Aurora, Sutherland Springs, Fort Hood, San Bernardino, and Newtown. In addition to their role in mass shootings, these devices increase the lethality of everyday gun violence in America, particularly gun violence in cities. Congress should act immediately to prohibit them from being sold.
  • Raise the minimum age to 21 years old for the purchase of semi-automatic rifles and shotguns. Eighteen to 20-year-olds commit gun homicides at a rate nearly four times higher than adults 21 and older. Congress should act now to block the sale of semi-automatic long guns to people under 21.
  • Prohibit the sale of assault weapons. Assault-style rifles have been used in the five deadliest mass shootings of the past decade—three of which happened in the past five months. Congress should take action to prohibit the sale of the most dangerous semi-automatic firearms.

Here’s what Everytown and Moms Demand the United States House and Senate should not pass:

  • Congress must not push “concealed carry reciprocity,” the NRA’s number one priority. This legislation undermines state gun laws and makes it easy for people with dangerous histories and no training to carry hidden, loaded guns in public across the country. Last year in the House, Republicans hijacked the Fix NICS Act by combining it with concealed carry reciprocity. In any form, “concealed carry reciprocity” is a non-starter. Concealed carry reciprocity forces states to accept the concealed carry standards of the states with the weakest standards, including a dozen states that don’t even require a permit in order to carry a concealed handgun in public, and 19 states that don’t require any gun safety training.
  • Congress must not push legislation that would put guns in our classrooms. In recent years, the gun lobby has pushed legislation across the country that would arm teachers and allow civilians to carry guns into our elementary, middle and high schools. These bills are sold as a way to keep children safe, but in reality, they do just the opposite, putting children at risk of unintentional shootings and escalating conflict without decreasing the risk of an active shooter. Plus, teachers and school safety experts overwhelmingly oppose allowing guns in schools. The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, the nation’s two largest teachers’ organizations, oppose allowing guns in schools, and the federal government’s chief legal, law enforcement, public health, education, and emergency management agencies all agree it would create more safety concerns.

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About Steve Ahlquist 272 Articles
Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for half a decade. Uprise RI is his new project, and he's doing all he can to make it essential reading. atomicsteve@gmail.com

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