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Lipinski: We Must Do More About Gun Violence

Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) released the following statement today:

“We continue to mourn those killed in the horrific massacre in Las Vegas and pray for all the victims as well as their families and friends.  The flags throughout Washington lowered to half-staff are a constant reminder that our nation is mourning, although most of us cannot forget the lives tragically taken from us.       

“But there is more that needs to be done beyond praying and mourning; we must take action to try to prevent further gun violence in our nation.  Our communities and innocent families have borne far too much pain from this senseless violence.

“While the vast majority of gun owners in the U.S. are responsible individuals who are not threats to their community, even one irresponsible, unstable, or dangerous individual with a gun poses a great risk.  We need to do more to keep guns out the hands of criminals and those suffering mental health challenges.  I have strongly supported measures to improve our background check system, and to require background checks on all gun sales, including at gun shows and between private individuals.  We must also do more to maintain sufficient information in these systems about who cannot or should not be allowed to buy a weapon.  Many states and even some federal agencies are not updating their systems with sufficient criminal background and mental health status information, and that leaves background checks less able to prevent gun sales to risky individuals.

“Our laws must also be updated to prevent and increase penalties for gun trafficking and straw purchases. Too many of the guns involved in crimes in Chicago and elsewhere get into criminals’ hands through ‘straw purchases,’ where a person with a clean record buys firearms for someone who would get blocked.  This must stop.  We must also better prevent individuals from selling or transferring guns with the intent of subverting the background check system or other gun restrictions, and work to find ways to prevent guns from being trafficked from states with lax controls to others.

“We must do a better job with education and research.  Congress has prevented the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Health from conducting research on the causes of and consequences from gun availability and gun crime.  We need to end that ban, and let research tell us what we may not yet know.  Any new knowledge that can reduce harm is something that we should pursue.  And we should use that research and other material to better educate gun owners and the public about firearms, the threats posed by the irresponsible use of guns, and about gun safety.

“In order to assess these and other proposals in a comprehensive fashion, I support the establishment of a select committee on gun violence.  Congress needs to take a serious, unvarnished and across-the-board look at what policies would work best to keep America safe from gun violence.  Our current committee structure, and the interest of some politicians to sit on their hands when it comes to gun violence, necessitates a higher-level, special approach.

“Finally, we should not take steps in the opposite direction by passing legislation such as the SHARE Act which, among other provisions, would deregulate silencers for firearms.  Silencers have been strictly regulated, and making them widely available would reduce safety in our communities, threaten police, and increase the potential for violent crime.  Numerous police organizations have stated their opposition to relaxing gun laws like this, and making these devices more available is the wrong direction for our national policy.

“These actions are first steps towards addressing gun violence in our nation.  They are all common sense. They all have very widespread support.  However, similar efforts I have worked on with my colleagues in Washington to institute these policy changes have fallen short after other horrific massacres.  But we cannot stop fighting.  I won’t stop doing so until sensible policy changes are made and we make Americans far safer from the threat of gun violence.”