Firearms Are Now the Leading Cause of Death for Children & Teenagers in America
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger — a Member of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force — today helped lead an effort to force a vote on three commonsense gun violence prevention measures that would save lives in Virginia and across the country.
Spanberger signed discharge petitions to bring three bills — the Assault Weapons Ban, Bipartisan Background Checks Act, and Enhanced Background Checks Act — to the U.S. House floor for an immediate vote.
This afternoon, Spanberger spoke at a press conference alongside fellow members of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, Democratic leadership, gun violence prevention leaders, survivors, and advocates to call on House Republican leadership to take action to address gun violence and prevent mass shootings.
Click here to watch her remarks, and a full transcript is below.
Thank you for being here today. Thank you to all the advocates, all the survivors, and everyone who believes that we can do more to protect our children.
I stand before you as a Member of Congress, a former federal agent who carried a firearm every day, and a mother of three school-aged children.
After the Uvalde shooting, my daughter cried and cried and cried and cried and said, “Those children must have been so scared.” And she spoke about what it would have been like for those kids. And as her parent, I had to console her. And as a legislator, I had to come back to this place, meet with my colleagues, and say — again, “We must do more.”
We filed a discharge petition on the Bipartisan Background Checks Act. It is named such because it is bipartisan in its introduction and it is overwhelmingly bipartisan in the number of Americans who support it.
We filed a discharge petition on the Enhanced Background Checks Act, Mr. Clyburn’s bill, which would save lives — and lives have been lost because of the loophole that exists in the current law.
And we filed the discharge petition on the Assault Weapons Ban because we know that when weapons that are meant for war are utilized in classrooms and in churches and in synagogues and in grocery stores and on parade routes and in our communities, they result in massive numbers of Americans dying.
The American people deserve better. And we know that there are actions that we can take — and that’s why we are here to ask our colleagues to join us. Join us, tell us what you are for. We are giving you three options today. Join us. Sign the petitions.
And as a Congresswoman, I signed three petitions today in honor of little girls who have been murdered in my district. In honor of Markiya and Lucia, I will continue to work to prevent future parents, future families, and future Americans from the horror of gun violence.
The Assault Weapons Banwould prohibit the sale, transfer, manufacture and importation of semiautomatic weapons and ammunition feeding devices capable of accepting more than fifteen rounds. This legislation would not prohibit the continued possession of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines lawfully owned before enactment and would not apply to certain firearms like antiques and certain hunting or sporting rifles.
Spanberger has cosponsored the Assault Weapons Ban three times. The United States previously had a federal Assault Weapons Ban in place from 1994 until 2004. During that period, gun massacres dropped by nearly 40 percent. Since Congress allowed this previous ban to expire, gun massacres have tripled nationwide.
The Bipartisan Background Checks Actwould close existing loopholes by requiring that every sale of a firearm includes a background check with certain exemptions for family transfers and temporary hunting transfers. Under this bill, a licensed gun dealer, manufacturer, or importer would be required to conduct a background check before a transfer between private parties can proceed.
The Enhanced Background Checks Actwould close the “Charleston Loophole,” which currently allows individuals to purchase firearms before approval of their background check if it is still pending after three days. This legislation would give law enforcement limited additional time to complete a background check — 10 business days — followed by a subsequent 10-business-day escalated review upon request by purchaser before a firearm can be transferred to the purchaser. Saturday, June 17, 2023 will mark eight years since the massacre at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Since arriving in Congress, Spanberger has been a consistent voice for commonsense gun violence prevention legislation that can protect the lives of Virginia families, communities, and law enforcement officers. Both in 2019 and 2021, she voted to pass bipartisan gun safety legislation that would close existing federal background check loopholes and make sure individuals already prohibited from gun possession under federal law are unable to purchase firearms.
In June 2022, Spanberger voted to pass — and the President signed into law — the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. Specifically, this bipartisan agreement:
- Requires an investigative period to review juvenile and mental health records, including checks with state databases and local law enforcement,
- Clarifies the definition of a “federally licensed firearms dealer” (FFL) and cracks down on dealers who illegally evade licensing requirements,
- Incentivizes states to adopt “red flag laws” to keep guns out of the hands of individuals whom a court has determined to be a significant danger to themselves or others, consistent with state and federal due process and constitutional protections,
- Protects victims of domestic violence by making sure that domestic violence abusers and individuals subject to domestic violence restraining orders are included in National Instant Criminal Background Check System,
- Increases penalties for “straw purchasing” and gun trafficking,
- Invests in programs to expand mental health and supportive services in schools, including early identification and intervention programs and school based mental health services,
- Makes major investments to increase access to mental health and suicide prevention programs and other support services available in the community, including crisis and trauma intervention and recovery, and
- Invests in programs to help institute safety measures in and around schools, support school violence prevention efforts, and provide training to school personnel and students.
The Gun Violence Prevention Task Force was established in Congress after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012.