FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 23, 2011
SCHUMER, JOINED BY MAYOR BLOOMBERG, UNVEILS LEGISLATION FOR TOUGHER PENALTIES FOR STATES THAT DON’T COMPLY WITH BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR GUN PURCHASES; MEASURE MODELED AFTER MAYORS’ PROPOSAL TO FIX BACKGROUND CHECK SYSTEM
Legislation Increases Penalties for States that Fail to Report Drug Abusers, Domestic Violence Perps, and Mentally Ill to National Do-Not-Sell List; Would Also Close Loophole Allowing Private Sellers to Get Around Background Check
Arizona and VA Tech Shooters Should Have Been Reported to National Do-Not-Sell List for Gun Purchases; Both Shooters Slipped Through the Cracks Because of Lax Reporting by States and Federal Agencies
As FixGunChecks.org Truck Tour Reaches Ohio’s Capitol, More than 250,000 Americans Have Signed Petitions to Fix Gun Background Checks, Including More than 8,000 in Ohio
NEW YORK, NY - United States Senator Charles E. Schumer, joined by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, announced today the introduction of legislation that would provide greater reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for individuals with mental illness, domestic violence records, and drug abusers, by increasing the penalties for states that fail to adequately turn over records for those who are prohibited from owning a gun. The legislation will also require that all gun sales, including those by private sellers, be subject to a background check, effectively ending the gun show loophole.
The legislation, based on a proposal put forward by the coalition of Mayor’s Against Illegal Guns is designed to help prevent the next mass shooting. The Senator made the announcement one week into the coalition’s Nationwide Drive to Fix Gun Checks, a campaign featuring a mobile billboard truck that tolls the tragic count of Americans that have been murdered with guns since the Tucson shooting.
“Two of the most heinous acts of gun violence in the last four years were perpetrated by individuals, who under the law, should have absolutely no access to a gun,” said Schumer. “Despite this fact, lax reporting by states and federal agencies has allowed guns to get into the hands of dangerous individuals with consequences that have been tragic and deadly. This legislation does nothing to impinge upon gun owners’ rights, but it does provide greater incentive for reporting individuals who should not have access to guns to the national do-not-sell list, helping better protect innocent Americans from senseless gun violence.”
“Americans want their government to take basic, common sense steps to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “To do that, we need leadership from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. Senator Schumer’s bill would save lives and protect communities all across the nation – and mayors all across the nation will be its biggest supporters.”
“Senator Schumer’s legislation makes eminent good sense, and one day, I hope, we will all look back and marvel that we didn’t enact these safeguards sooner.” Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is designed to conduct background checks on prospective gun owners to ensure that individuals who pose a threat to society are unable to get legal access to deadly weapons. Federal law requires that drug abusers, the mentally ill, domestic violence perpetrators, and others who are prohibited by state and federal law from having guns, be included in a national do-not-sell list, to help keep the guns out of the hands of those who should not have them. The NICS database, however, is missing millions of records due to lax reporting among the states and in some instances, federal agencies.
Specifically, the legislation being introduced by Senator Schumer and backed by Mayor Bloomberg and Mayors Against Illegal Guns would establish greater penalties for states that do not comply with reporting laws by cutting a greater amount of their Justice Department grant funding for noncompliance. Currently, states that fail to report 50% or more of the records they have on individuals not be allowed to buy a gun to the NICS database could face penalties of up to a 3% cut in their Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) funding. Schumer’s legislation would increase the reporting requirement to 75% by FY2013 and 90% by FY2018, with JAG funding penalties increased to 15% and 25%, respectively. Under the Schumer legislation, federal agencies, like the military, would be required to certify to the US Attorney General, twice per year, that they have submitted all relevant records to the NICS database. Additionally, the legislation closes the gun show loophole that exempts private sellers of guns from having to verify that the person they are selling to is not on the NICS database. The legislation would require private sellers to verify, either with local law enforcement, or through certified gun dealers, that the person who they are selling the gun to is not on the national NICS list.
Schumer and Bloomberg noted that both Tucson shooter Jared Lee Loughner and Virginia Tech Shooter Seung Hoi-Cho were not reported to the NICS database, despite the fact that Loughner was rejected by the Army for excessive drug use and Hoi-Cho was prohibited from owning a gun because of mental illness.
Ohio Poll Results
Mayors Against Illegal Guns today also announced the results of a new statewide Ohio poll conducted by Momentum Analysis. The poll reveals that Ohioans and Ohio gun owners strongly support a sensible approach to gun laws that protects the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans while also keeping criminals and other dangerous people from accessing firearms. The poll also shows 85% of Ohioans and 80% of Ohio gun owners support background checks for all gun sales. The survey of 600 registered voters was conducted between February 11 through February 13, 2011 and the margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points.
“The United States Congress has an opportunity today to respond to the clear call Americans are making for tougher laws that will help keep illegal guns out of dangerous hands,” said coalition co-chair and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. “We can support the rights of responsible, law-abiding people to own guns while preventing criminals, drug abusers, the mentally ill and other dangerous people from getting a gun they could use to take an innocent life. Our Fix Gun Checks Tour is currently in Ohio, and today’s new poll shows that Ohioans are on board. I urge every member of Congress to join with Senator Schumer to reform our gun laws once and for all.”
About Mayors Against Illegal Guns
Since its inception in April 2006, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has grown from 15 mayors to over 550. Mayors Against Illegal Guns has united the nation’s mayors around these common goals: protecting their communities by holding gun offenders and irresponsible gun dealers accountable, demanding access to trace data that is critical to law enforcement efforts to combat illegal gun trafficking, and working with legislators to fix gaps, weaknesses and loopholes in the law that make it far too easy for criminals and other prohibited purchasers to get guns.