08.03.15

SCHUMER (AMY) STANDS WITH SCHUMER (CHUCK) IN CALL TO ACTION FOR TIGHTER LAWS ON GUNS ON HEELS OF ANOTHER MASS SHOOTING; ACTRESS ENDORSES SENATOR’S NEW PUSH TO PRESERVE MENTAL HEALTH FUNDING NOW IN DANGER OF DRASTIC CUTS & TO STRENGTHEN GUN BACKGROUND CHECK SYSTEM FULL OF FATAL HOLES; COUSINS VOW NEW FIGHT IN SUPPORT OF VICTIMS & FAMILIES

Senator Schumer Unveils New Legislation As Part Of Three-Pronged Push That Rewards States That Submit Info To Background Check System & Creates Penalties For States That Do Not; Charleston Shooter Should Not Have Passed Background Check & Lafayette Shooter Should Have Been Declared Mentally Unfit To Buy A Gun 

Amy Schumer—Who, Like So Many Other Americans—Is Calling On Congress To Summon The Courage To Address Background Checks; Joins Her Cousin To Correct Mental Health Flaws & Culture Of Gun Violence; Both Schumers Believe Now Is The Worst Time For Congress To Slash Mental Health Funding By Millions 

Schumers: We’re Teaming Up To Say Enough Is Enough; Too Many Lives Are At Stake  

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, alongside actress, comedian and cousin, Amy Schumer, today began a new team effort and public push to crackdown on mass shootings and gun violence currently plaguing this country. The cousins’ call comes in the wake of yet another mass shooting, this time in Louisiana that tragically took the lives of two innocent young women, and injured at least nine others, inside a movie theater. Amy Schumer has always felt passionate about rational laws on guns. When she learned that a tragic shooting had occurred at her movie, ‘Trainwreck’ in Louisiana, it redoubled her concern. The Schumers today explained that more needs to be done to prevent people, like violent criminals, domestic abusers and the mentally ill, from too easily obtaining guns and using them to kill. Gun violence kills an average of 88 people per day; while tragic mass shootings receive significant media attention, this is a plague facing our nation on a daily basis. Specifically, the cousins pledge to keep fighting for background check reform and are calling for three major actions.

Senator Schumer unveiled new legislation that creates monetary rewards for states that submit all necessary records into the background check system and creates penalties for states that do not submit all records. The Schumers explained that, in the case of the Charleston mass shooting, the Dylan Roof should have not passed a background check but was able to because of holes in the background check system. The cousins went on to say that, unfortunately, no one is punishing states that fail to submit all of their records.

Second, Schumer and Schumer are publicly urging Congress to fully fund mental health and substance abuse programs that provide treatment to those in-need. Right now, the Senate’s budget proposal cuts $159 million in funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Schumer and Schumer said that now is not the time to be cutting funding from these critically needed programs.

Thirdly, Schumer and Schumer are urging the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) to write a comprehensive report comparing all states’ standards for involuntary commitment. Moreover, they said that the DOJ should put forth recommendation on best practices that would serve as potential benchmarks for new policies.

“I am teaming up with actress Amy Schumer to address the far too common and far too tragic issue of gun violence in this country, and today, we are demanding that Congress take this issue very seriously,”said Schumer. “If there is anything that the mass shootings in Lafayette, Chattanooga, Charleston, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Sandy Hook and so many other places have taught us, it’s that we should be do everything in our power to prevent weapons from falling into the hands of hateful evil-doers and the mentally ill however, the U.S. is not doing enough and too many lives are at stake. “

Senator Schumer continued, “First, we desperately need to improve the background check system, which helps prevent the adjudicated mentally ill and violent criminals from getting their hands on a dangerous weapon. That’s why I am announcing new legislation that will incentivize states to submit all records into the federal gun database. Second, the federal Department of Justice should conduct a study on involuntary commitment standards and provide recommendations to States on how to best prevent dangerous mentally ill people from obtaining a gun in the future. Third, despite this rash of mass shootings, often executed by mentally-ill individuals, it is disconcerting that Congress has proposed a drastic $150 million dollar-plus cut in federal funding from critically-needed mental health services. Now is the worst possible time to be slashing funds from mental health programs that help treat people in-need, so, we are urging Congress to fully fund the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.”

Senator Schumer went on to say, “Lastly, I acknowledge the right—enshrined in the Second Amendment and the Heller decision—of American citizens to purchase and bear arms, however, just as the First Amendment comes with responsibilities and limits to protect public safety, the Second Amendment does as well. We have to make sure that we as a country are safe and that everyone’s right are respected.”

“I was heartbroken when I heard about Columbine, and Sandy Hook, and Aurora, and so many other names and places that are now seared into the American memory,” said Amy Schumer. “I was heartbroken, again, when I heard about Lafayette. And I still am. We need a background check system without holes and fatal flaws. We need one with accurate information that protects us like a firewall should. The critics scoff and say, ‘there is no way to stop crazy people from doing crazy things.’ They’re wrong. What Chuck is describing are sensible measures and restrictions. No one wants to live in a country where a felon, the mentally ill, or other dangerous people can get their hands on a gun with such ease. The time is now for the American people to rally for these changes.”

“These are my first public comments on the issue of gun violence—I can promise you this: they will not be my last,” Amy Schumer added.

Currently, under federal law, private citizens may sell weapons at gun shows, on the internet, or anywhere else they choose without performing background checks on the purchasers, allowing criminals to purchase guns with ease. This is particularly dangerous in the southern states with lax gun laws; guns sold in this region are often linked to illegal guns that are used in crimes across New York and other states, a problem Senator Schumer has worked years to combat. The ease with which illegal guns find their way to New York and others states, where they are used in violent crimes—or hateful attacks—occurs via the so-called “iron pipeline.” Schumer has long fought to constrict this illegal flow of guns, too, and said that the lack of background checks contributes significantly to the ongoing problem.

Senator Schumer authored the 1993 Brady Bill, which amended the Gun Control Act of 1968 to require background checks before a licensed gun dealer makes a sale. After the tragedy at Virginia Tech, Senator Schumer worked with his colleagues in Congress to pass the National Incident Criminal Background Check System Improvement Act, which improved the system through which states provided the names of people who were adjudicated mentally ill or who had committed violent crimes. Simply put, states report these names to a federal database that licensed gun dealers then check before selling a weapon. However, many states are not living up to their responsibilities under this law.

Senator Schumer and Amy Schumer today announced a three-pronged approach to targeting mass shootings and gun violence across the country:

  • Senator Schumer is introducing legislation that will allow the DOJ to create rewards and penalties for states that submit or don’t submit all records into the background check system, particularly focused on the records of people with mental illness and drug problems. Senator Schumer explained that, in the case of the Charleston tragedy, Dylan Roof should not have passed his background check and therefore, should not have been allowed to purchase his gun. Senator Schumer went on to say that the issue is that the background check system in the U.S. is dramatically underfunded and states are not punished if they fail to submit all their records. Senator Schumer’s new legislation will incentivize states to provide all critical records to the background check system, which will help better prevent violent criminals, domestic abusers and the mentally ill from obtaining guns. Schumer said that states that do not cooperate should be penalized.
  • Senator Schumer and Amy Schumer are publicly urging Congress to fully fund the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which the Senate has currently proposed cutting by $159 million—including a nearly 40 percent reduction to programs assisting people trying to transition from homeless. Schumer said that at a time when we are seeing unprecedented instancing of mass shootings by people with mental health and substance abuse problems, we should not be cutting funding from programs that provide treatment to these people.
  • Senator Schumer and Amy Schumer are urging the DOJ to write a report comparing all states’ standards for involuntary commitment and to produce recommendations on best practices.  Senator Schumer pointed to John Houser, the shooter in Lafayette, who purchased a gun legally because in Georgia it is extremely difficult to involuntarily commit someone in in a way that counts for the purposes of prohibiting future gun purchases. Senator Schumer explained that many states across the country have a different set of standards for how to involuntarily commit someone; a comprehensive report and deep-dive into best practices will help states in the future put forth better standards.

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