Preventing Gun Violence

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As a career prosecutor, Kathleen has seen firsthand the devastating effects of gun violence in America. Parents robbed of their children. Young men and women robbed of their futures. Communities terrorized. Families forced to live in constant fear for their safety.

Too much time has passed, too many lives have been lost, too many mass shootings have come and gone while Congress repeatedly fails to take action. Kathleen is committed to passing common-sense legislative solutions that will prevent gun violence and save lives without infringing on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans.

EXPERIENCE

Kathleen has spent more than two decades fighting to make our communities safer. As a former homicide prosecutor in Brooklyn and a former federal gun crimes prosecutor in Philadelphia, Kathleen started her career as an advocate for victims and was never afraid to go after criminals who bring violence into our communities. As District Attorney of Nassau County, Kathleen aggressively enforced gun laws and led intelligence-driven investigations to take down gun traffickers and seize illegal guns before they reached our neighborhoods. Under Kathleen’s leadership, the DA’s office built lasting community partnerships and implemented innovative prevention programs in our schools that empower kids with the information they need to resist guns, drugs and gang violence. Kathleen also led Nassau County’s tremendously successful gun buyback program, which has taken thousands of illegal guns off our streets at no expense to taxpayers.

PRIORITIES AND LEGISLATION

Kathleen knows that real progress in preventing gun violence demands action at the federal level, and as a Vice Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, she is making it a priority to help break through the gridlock in Congress and pass common-sense solutions that we know will save lives

In the 116th Congress, the Democratic Majority has made strong progress in the fight against gun violence, passing two bills that will drastically expand background checks and ensure that dangerous criminals do not have access to firearms:

Universal Background Checks: Kathleen is an original cosponsor of H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 240-190 in February, 2019. The bill establishes new background check requirements for firearm transfers between private parties (i.e., unlicensed individuals). H.R. 8 requires a background check for every gun sale or transfer, with some reasonable and explicit exceptions such as gifting a gun to a close family member, loaning a gun for hunting or target shooting, or providing a gun in the moment of self-defense.  Federal law already requires licensed gun dealers to conduct background checks on gun purchasers or transferees, and H.R. 8 extends the requirement of background checks to unlicensed gun sellers.  Under H.R. 8, unlicensed gun sellers would meet their buyers at a licensed gun dealer, who would run a background check using the same process already used for sales from their own inventory.

Closing the Charleston Loophole
: Kathleen is also an original cosponsor of H.R. 1112, which passed the House in February, 2019 by a vote of 228-198. This bill closes the so-called “Charleston Loophole,” which currently allows the sale of a firearm to proceed if a background check is not completed within three business days. After the tragic mass shooting at the AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015, we learned that the shooter was actually prohibited by law from possessing a firearm due to his criminal record. However, he was able to legally acquire a gun after three business days because the FBI had not yet completed his background check. The sale of a firearm after three days -- and before the FBI background check is complete -- is known as a “default proceed” gun sale. H.R. 1112 will take simple, yet vital steps to provide the FBI with additional time to complete a background check before the default proceed gun sale takes affect. First, the bill extends the initial background check review period from 3 business days to 10. After the initial 10 business day period, if a background check has not been completed, a purchaser may request an escalated review by the FBI, which would provide the FBI with an additional 10 business days to resolve the case. Default proceed sales are an especially common factor in domestic violence cases.

Other gun violence prevention priorities of Kathleen's include: 

Military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines: Kathleen is committed to reinstating the ban on assault weapons, which expired in 2004 after Congress failed to reauthorize it, and she is an original cosponsor of legislation that would ban the sale of large-capacity ammunition feeding devices. These weapons and ammunition feeding devices are not used for sport or self-defense, and we know too well that they threaten to turn our schools, movie theaters and public spaces into scenes of utter horror.

Preventing suspected terrorists from acquiring firearms and explosives: 
Kathleen is the lead Democratic cosponsor of the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act, a commonsense bipartisan bill that would prohibit the transfer or issuance of a firearm or explosives to any known or suspected terrorist, including anyone who is currently on a government no-fly list.

Preventing domestic abusers from acquiring firearms: In the 115th Congress, Kathleen was the lead Democratic cosponsor of the Domestic Violence Records Reporting Improvement Act, a bipartisan bill which would help prevent domestic abusers from buying guns. The legislation creates incentives for states to provide complete domestic violence records to federal background check databases, and by providing grant funding to help states improve their reporting processes. This bill would help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, and save lives. 

Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA): Kathleen was strong supporter of the latest VAWA reauthorization bill, which included a new provision closes the "boyfriend loophole," extending existing gun restrictions to include current and former dating partners convicted of abuse or stalking charges. Previously, the law only prohibited firearm purchases for people who are "married to, lived with, or have a child with the victim" and who have been convicted of a felony or are subject to a restraining order. The new provision would extend the law to unmarried partners and misdemeanor convictions of domestic abuse and stalking. The bill passed by a bipartisan vote of 263-158.

Select Committee to Investigate Gun Violence: Kathleen has cosponsored legislation and resolutions that would create a bipartisan Select Committee of the House to investigate the causes and effects of gun violence and issue legislative proposals that will help reduce gun violence. Kathleen knows that Democrats and Republicans don’t always agree on the solutions to prevent gun violence, but we should all agree that gun violence is a very real and very serious problem in America, and this committee offers the best opportunity to bring both parties together and finally take action after so many years of debate. Click here to read Kathleen’s opinion piece in the Long Island Herald: We need a bipartisan solution to gun violence

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