Today, U.S. Reps. Adriano Espaillat, Val Demings, Mike Quigley, Mike Thompson, Sheila Jackson Lee, Joe Neguse, Ted Deutch, and Peter DeFazio introduced the Protecting Our Communities Act.
The goal of the legislation is to move swiftly on a package of common-sense efforts to close obvious loopholes in America’s gun laws, prevent mass shootings, and protect law enforcement officers and the public from high-powered, rapid-firing and untraceable weapons.
The legislation is a grouping of several high-profile gun safety bills and is an ambitious effort to push Congress to take action to prevent gun violence.
Said Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), “Closing loopholes to ensure that people who should not have guns cannot get guns is common sense and will save lives. Ghost guns are guns, plain and simple. They pose a serious concern for communities around the nation as well as for law enforcement agencies, who are often unable to trace these kits. I am proud that my bill, the Ghost Guns Are Guns Act, is part of this critical legislative gun violence prevention package. I look forward to continuing my work with my colleagues to ensure we implement comprehensive change that would close these loopholes, expand background checks, and improve the overall safety of our communities by making it more difficult for these weapons to fall into the wrong hands.”
Said Rep. Val Demings (FL-10), “I’m sick of inaction while easily-fixed loopholes cause death and tragedy in our communities. I call on Congress to immediately advance and pass these common-sense reforms to stop mass shooters, slow the flow of untraceable weapons into our communities, and protect law enforcement officers. Despite the lies and screeches from the scandal-ridden NRA, the truth is that the vast majority of American agree that criminals shouldn’t be able to buy a gun or download one, that weapons which fire through police officers’ ballistic vests should be tightly and rightly controlled, and that weapon modifications that allow shooters to fire hundreds of rounds a minute simply have no place on our streets. I’m proud to join with my colleagues on this commonsense legislation. Let’s get this done and save lives.”
Said Rep. Mike Quigley (IL-5), “I’m pleased to have worked with my colleagues to introduce a gun reform package aimed at protecting our neighborhoods and ensuring that weapons stay out of the wrong hands. My hope is that these reforms will save lives and prevent further gun violence. I also want to thank my colleagues for including my bill in this package and I look forward to seeing it move through our democratic legislative process.”
Said Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-5), “Tackling the scourge of gun violence requires that the Administration and Congress work together to keep guns out of the hands of those who may be a danger to themselves or others. That’s why today I’m proud to be an original coauthor of Representative Demings’ Protecting Our Communities Act, an important bill that will crack down on unregulated ghost guns and dangerous concealable assault rifles like the one used in the recent shooting in Boulder, prohibit bump stocks by law and boost the background checks system to notify state and local law enforcement when felons and others prohibited from purchasing a gun try to buy one. This is a critical bill in our work to keep our communities safe and I’m proud to support it as Chairman of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.”
Said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), “As a member of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, I am proud to join Task Force Chairman Mike Thompson and other colleagues in introducing this aggressive bill to help prevent gun violence. This bill is necessary to address urgent issues such as ghost guns, individuals at extreme risk for committing gun violence, and concealable assault weapons. In addition, I intend to focus on other firearms issues, such as safe gun storage, as we in Congress take steps to pass additional gun violence prevention legislation.”
Said Rep. Joe Neguse (CO-2), “Inaction on gun violence is simply not an option. Our communities in Colorado and across the nation have felt the pain and grief of senseless acts of violence far too many times, and these incidents demand a response. The Protecting Our Communities Act combines several common-sense, urgently needed gun violence prevention measures to close existing loopholes, protect our communities and save lives. I’m proud to join my colleagues in unveiling this package today and urge swift consideration from the Congress. We’ve lost far too many lives at the hands of mass shootings. We must find the willpower and the urgency to act for our kids and for our future.”
Said Rep. Ted Deutch (FL-22), “It’s been decades since Congress passed any meaningful updates to our gun laws, and existing enforcement regimes are failing to meet the challenges we’re facing today,” said Rep. Deutch. “Law enforcement officers understand these challenges more than most. That’s why I’m so pleased to support this strong plan sponsored by my colleague and former police chief Val Demings. We have no time to waste to pass focused reforms that can make a real difference in our communities and save lives.”
Said Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04), “Over the past two decades, gun violence tragedies have grown exponentially, devastating communities across this country, including southwest Oregon. While I’ve pushed for sensible solutions for years, Congress has failed to pass comprehensive gun violence prevention reforms to address this epidemic. It’s well-past time for Congress to finally enact common-sense solutions to close dangerous loopholes, help prevent mass shootings, and protect our families, friends, neighbors, and dedicated law enforcement officers so we can make our communities safer.”
Said Nick Suplina, Everytown’s Managing Director of Law and Policy, “The common-sense measures in this package address some of the most urgent threats to public safety. Vice Chair Demings has long been a champion for gun safety, from helping lead the House Gun Violence Prevention Taskforce to introducing today’s important legislation.”
The Protecting Our Communities Act is a broad legislative package that closes loopholes in America’s gun laws. The legislation:
- Regulates “ghost guns” by requiring gun kits to include a serial number and a background check to complete a sale;
- Regulates concealable assault rifles which fire armor-piercing ammunition and were specifically designed by gun manufacturers to circumvent the National Firearms Act;
- Help states enforce existing laws by requiring federal authorities to alert state and local law enforcement within 24 hours when an ineligible individual lies on a background check and tries to purchase a firearm; and
- Codifies the last Administration’s ‘bump stock’ final rule to regulate bump stocks, which allow modification of a weapon to enable rapid firing.
- The Ghost Guns Are Guns Act would close the “ghost guns” loophole which allows purchasers to avoid federal background checks by buying unassembled firearms online. H.R. 1454 amends Title 18 of the United States Code to include firearm assembly kits in the definition of firearms.
- The legislation is endorsed by the Newtown Action Alliance, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Honor with Action Coalition, Violence Policy Center, Brady, and March For Our Lives.
- These types of weapons are concealable and fire armor-piercing ammunition—making them as lethal as an assault rifle. They are specifically designed by gun manufacturers to circumvent the National Firearms Act (NFA)—a federal law regulating the manufacture, transfer, and possession of firearms. Their concealability and lethality make them especially dangerous for law enforcement personnel.
- The Law Enforcement Protection Act would add armor-piercing, concealable weapons as a category under the National Firearms Act (NFA).
- The legislation is endorsed by Giffords, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, Brady: United Against Gun Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety, Sandy Hook Promise, and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
- In the 37 states and the District of Columbia that rely on the FBI to run some or all of their background checks, local authorities generally are not aware when a person in their area fails a background check. Individuals who are willing to “lie and try” to buy a gun may be dangerous and more likely to obtain guns through other means. As a result, these states and D.C. lack crucial law enforcement intelligence that could be used to keep their communities safe.
- The NICS Denial Notification Act would: Require federal authorities to alert state law enforcement of background checks denials, so that state authorities can decide whether to investigate, prosecute, and/or keep an eye on these denied individuals for signs of future criminal activity.
o Require DOJ to publish an annual report with statistics about its prosecution of background check denial cases, so Congress and voters can hold federal officials accountable.
- The legislation is endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National District Attorneys Association, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety, and Giffords.
Representative Espaillat is the first Dominican American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and his congressional district includes Harlem, East Harlem, West Harlem, Hamilton Heights, Washington Heights, Inwood, Marble Hill and the north-west Bronx.
First elected to Congress in 2016, Representative Espaillat is serving his third term in Congress.
Representative Espaillat currently serves as a member of the influential U.S. House Committee on Appropriations responsible for funding the federal government’s vital activities.
He is also a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), where he serves as the Second Vice-Chair and is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, where he serves as Deputy Whip.
Representative Espaillat also currently serves as a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus. To find out more about Rep. Espaillat, visit online at https://espaillat.house.gov/.
Photo credit: Danny Tisdale.