House Democrats Suggest 15-point Gun Safety Plan
The House Democrats' Gun Violence Prevention Task Force released 15 principles Friday that it says will shape its recommendation for upcoming legislation. The principles include very broad ideas, such as to "support initiatives that prevent problems before they start," as well as more specific proposals, such as to "reinstate and strengthen a prospective federal ban on assault weapons."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., named Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., to lead the task force in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Over the last two months, the task force has sought the input of a number of different people and groups with a vested interest in the issue, including law enforcement officials, mental health experts, gun safety advocates, hunters, gun manufacturers, gun owners, representatives of the entertainment industry and educators. The task force also consulted Vice President Joe Biden -- who ran his own task force on reducing gun violence -- and met with both Democrats and Republicans on the issue.
"As a hunter and gun owner I believe we should protect law-abiding individuals' 2nd Amendment right to own firearms," Thompson said in a statement Friday. "As a father and grandfather I also believe that we have a responsibility to make our schools, neighborhoods and communities safe. This comprehensive set of policy principles accomplishes both those goals and Congress should act on them without delay."
One member of the task force, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., expressed some reservations about the list: "While I agree with many recommendations made in this report, I also have serious and honest concerns with others," he said in a statement.
Dingell specifically said he does support improving the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, properly enforcing existing laws, adequately funding mental health programs, and cracking down on straw purchasers and gun traffickers. However, he added, "I believe we must also not propose any misguided or sweeping gun ban that does far too little to address the real causes of gun violence, and far too much in limiting the rights of sportsmen and responsible gun owners," he said.
The full list of recommendations is below:
* Support the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans
* Support citizens' rights to possess firearms for hunting, shooting sports, defense, and other lawful and legitimate purposes
* Reinstate and strengthen a prospective federal ban on assault weapons
* Reinstate a prospective federal ban on assault magazines
* Require a background check for every gun sale, while respecting reasonable exceptions for cases such as gifts between family members and temporary loans for sporting purposes
* Strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database
* Prosecute those prohibited buyers who attempt to purchase firearms and others who violate federal firearm laws
* Pass legislation aimed specifically at cracking down on illegal gun trafficking and straw-purchasing
* Restore funding for public safety and law enforcement initiatives aimed at reducing gun violence
* Support initiatives that prevent problems before they start
* Close the holes in our mental-health system and make sure that care is available for those who need it
* Help our communities get unwanted and illegal guns out of the hands of those who don't want them or shouldn't have them
* Support responsible gun ownership
* Take steps to enhance school safety
* Address our culture's glorification of violence seen and heard though our movie screens, television shows, music and video games