03.14.13

Leahy And Senate Judiciary Committee Complete Work On Four Gun Violence Bills

. . . Assault Weapons Ban The Fourth Legislative Proposal Considered By The Committee

WASHINGTON –Legislation aimed to curb gun violence caused by assault weapons was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee today, the panel’s fourth meeting in which legislation related to gun violence was considered.

The Committee approved, by a vote of 10 to 8, legislation authored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that would ban the sale, transfer, manufacture, and importation of certain assault weapons. The bill also limits the magazine capacity of semiautomatic rifles and handguns. Feinstein’s measure is the fourth approved by the Judiciary Committee, which previously reported out legislation to ban the practice of gun trafficking, to improve the Nation’s background check system and to reauthorize a matching grant program to provide Federal assistance to schools to enhance safety measures.

“What we have accomplished in our committee work has been difficult, but we have not accepted that as an excuse to do nothing,” Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said. “We have listened to heart-wrenching testimony.  We have opened the process to input from all, and we have proceeded methodically to search for commonsense answers to the recurring tragedy of gun violence.” 

Leahy voted in favor of Feinstein’s legislation, which he said should be considered by the full Senate, and noted that the Judiciary Committee has focused much of its time to the issues of gun violence at Second Amendment rights since the beginning of the year. The measures reported out of the Judiciary Committee, including Leahy’s Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act to make illegal the abusive practice of straw purchasing and trafficking of firearms, now go to the full Senate for consideration.

“I noted at the outset that the Second Amendment is secure and will remain secure and protected,” Leahy said. “Second Amendment rights are the foundation on which our discussion rests.  They are not at risk.  But lives are at risk when responsible people fail to stand up for laws that will keep guns out of the hands of those who will use them to commit mass murder.”

Results from Thursday’s executive business meeting can be found online.

# # # # #


Closing Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee
Senate Judiciary Committee Business Meeting
Completion Of Markup Sessions On Gun Violence Legislation
March 14, 2013

 

We devoted our first hearing of this Congress back in January to what we should do about gun violence.  I have asked this Committee and all Senators to come together as Americans, as part of a collective effort, to find solutions to help ensure that no families and no community be made to endure the tragedies of the past few years: in an elementary school in Connecticut, in a movie theater in Colorado, in a sacred place of worship in Wisconsin, and in front of a shopping mall in Arizona. 

What we have accomplished in our committee work has been difficult, but we have not accepted that as an excuse to do nothing.  We have listened to heart-wrenching testimony.  We have opened the process to input from all, and we have proceeded methodically to search for commonsense answers to the recurring tragedy of gun violence. 

Americans are looking to us for solutions and for action.  After three hearings and four markup sessions, we have essentially completed our work and have sent measures on to the Senate for consideration.  I will now work with the Majority Leader on how he decides to proceed.  We have provided law enforcement with stronger tools against illegal gun trafficking.  We have proposed enhancements to school security and proposed closing loopholes in our background check system for firearm purchases.  Others have proposed restrictions on military-style weapons and the size of ammunition clips.  

I know gun store owners in  Vermont.  They follow the law and conduct background checks to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them.  They  wonder why others who sell guns do not have to follow these same protective rules.  I agree with these responsible business owners.  If we can all agree that criminals and those adjudicated as mentally ill should not be buying firearms, why should we not plug the loopholes in the law that  allow them to buy guns without background checks?  It is just common sense. Previous measures to close the gun show loophole or to improve the background check system have been bipartisan.  I hope that we can make further improvements in a bipartisan way. 

I noted at the outset that the Second Amendment is secure and will remain secure and protected.  In two recent cases the Supreme Court has confirmed that the Second Amendment, like other aspects of our Bill of Rights, protects a fundamental individual right.  Americans have the right to self defense and to have guns in their homes to protect their families. No one can or will take those rights away or our guns away.  Second Amendment rights are the foundation on which our discussion rests.  They are not at risk.  But lives are at risk when responsible people fail to stand up for laws that will keep guns out of the hands of those who will use them to commit mass murder.  

Ours is a free society and an open society.  We need to come together to become a safer and more secure society.  We need consensus around common sense solutions.  What we do not need are false charges about gun registries and gun confiscation to scare people when no such thing is being proposed.  These matters are too serious for that. 

As we began our efforts, I challenged other Senators to come forward, to work together and to indicate what measures they would support.  I thank the ranking member for making that effort.  I will continue to work with him, and others, to see if we cannot find more things on which we can agree and more solutions on which we can move forward together to make American safer.

 # # # # #

Press Contact

Press Contact
David Carle: 202-224-3693