“Enough is Enough”: Velázquez Bills Seek to Reduce Gun Violence
Pair of Bills Introduced Following Las Vegas, Texas Shootings
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) has introduced two bills to curb gun sales and crack down on the illegal pipeline of firearms entering New York. Velázquez announced her measures one month after the Las Vegas massacre, the deadliest mass shooting in American history, and just a few days after the most recent mass shooting tragedy in Texas. In unveiling the bills, Velázquez said she is working to make communities safer from senseless and tragic gun violence.
“The repeated lack of action on sensible gun control following mass shootings is unconscionable,” said Velázquez. “Last month, a deranged gunman in Las Vegas stole the lives from 59 innocent concert goers and injured hundreds of others. This weekend, 26 of our fellow citizens – ranging from children to seniors – lost their lives. Our collective outrage cannot be lost in the days following these shootings. Instead, we must take real, concrete action to crack down on illegal sales of guns. For this reason, I have introduced two new bills that take modest but meaningful steps to reduce the scourge of gun violence.”
Velázquez’s first bill, the Protecting Americans from Gun Violence Act of 2017, establishes a new fee on gun sales. The Act requires that a $1 fee be collected following every registered background check. In turn, revenue from this tax will help fund research to prevent gun violence and to preserve the operation of background checks. Specifically, the first $10 million collected through the tax would go to fund gun research at the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is a vital part of preventing those that should not have access to guns from obtaining them. However, as seen in the recent Texas shooting, there are gaps in the system. In Texas, the gunman’s past criminal record should have prohibited him from passing a background check. To help address these gaps, the Act would provide $5 million to explore these deficiencies and strengthen the NICS system.
“For two decades, the NRA and their weapons manufacturing patrons have suppressed funding to study gun violence like the public health epidemic that it is,” said Velázquez. “While much more is needed beyond studies, closing the gap in data on gun violence will be an important step toward addressing the overarching problem. Equally important, under this bill, the research will be funded by the purchasers and sellers of firearms. Those who buy and sell these instruments of death should pay for the research examining their impact.”
Velázquez’s second bill, the Stopping the Iron Pipeline Act of 2017 will create a national standard for embedding technology within a firearm that would allow the weapon to be identified. The “iron pipeline” is an underground route used to smuggle guns from states with more permissive gun laws into places like New York. The Act would ease the process of identifying weapons, allowing law enforcement to trace the origin of guns used in crimes.
Moreover, under Velázquez’s bills, firearm owners would be required to report the loss or theft of a gun to their respective local law enforcement authority within 48 hours after discovering its theft or loss. A person failing to report such theft or loss is subject to a penalty of $10,000, 1 year in prison, or both, for each firearm not reported. The legislation requires local law enforcement authorities to report lost or stolen firearms within 7 days of receiving a report. The report is then to be transmitted to the National Crime Information Center.
“Our nation is awash in guns. Too often, these stolen weapons end up on the black market, transported to other states and used in crimes,” Velázquez noted. “Gun owners need to take responsibility and report to authorities when their firearms go missing or are stolen. Not only will this help track weapons used in crimes, but it will encourage those who do own guns to be responsible for them.”
Velázquez, a longstanding proponent for sensible gun control, has previously supported legislation to ban assault weapons like those used by the Las Vegas and Texas shooters. She has also supported efforts to prohibit bump stocks, technology that increases the rate of fire and that was used during the Las Vegas shooting. Additionally, Velázquez opposes any measure to ease restrictions on gun silencers.