Spanberger Urges Speaker Johnson to Work Across the Aisle to Prevent Gun Violence

Jan 30, 2024
Gun Safety
Press

More than 43,000 Americans Died From Gun Violence in 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger — a Member of the U.S. House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force — yesterday joined 122 colleagues in urging U.S. House Republican leadership to work with Democrats to prevent gun violence.

In 2023, more than 43,000 Americans died from gun violence, and more than 650 mass shootings devastated communities across Virginia and across the United States. The U.S. gun homicide rate is 26 times higher than that of other high-income nations. Firearm fatalities are also the leading cause of death for children and teenagers in the United States.

In a letter to U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson and Majority Leader Steve Scalise, Spanberger and her colleagues underscored the gun violence epidemic and urged leadership to bring legislation to the floor of the U.S. House to further prevent gun violence in communities across the country. Additionally, the Members sent Speaker Johnson and Leader Scalise a 2024 calendar marking the one-year anniversary of every mass shooting that took place in the United States in 2023 — on which more than 50 days mark the one-year anniversary of 4 or more mass shootings.

“As members who advocate for action on gun violence prevention, we know that it is impossible to set aside a week that isn’t marked by a mass shooting, or a single day that wasn’t touched by preventable gun violence tragedies,” wrote Spanberger and her colleagues. “It is unfathomable that House Republican leadership has thus far refused to take any action to address the gun violence epidemic, which is the leading cause of death for children and teenagers.”

Their letter continued, “While there is bipartisan agreement that mental health is a serious public safety issue in our country, the gun homicide rate in the United States is 26 times that of other wealthy nations. It is not credible to address the gun violence epidemic without working to prevent people who are a danger to themselves or others from accessing firearms. We again ask you to work with Democrats on any policies to end the gun violence epidemic.”

Click here to read the letter, and the full letter text is below. Click here to view the calendar.

Dear Speaker Johnson and Majority Leader Scalise:

As you know, our country continues to face a daily epidemic of gun violence. 2023 was an incredibly dark year for gun violence with 43,032 Americans dying from gun violence. Our communities were torn apart by 657 mass shootings and the gun violence epidemic annually costs our nation more than $557 billion.

As members of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, we urge you to commit to allotting time this year to act on gun violence prevention legislation. Enclosed along with this letter is a calendar which highlights the 1-year anniversary of mass shootings from the previous year. Sadly, the calendar also notes the days marked by 4 or more mass shootings.

As members who advocate for action on gun violence prevention, we know that it is impossible to set aside a week that isn’t marked by a mass shooting, or a single day that wasn’t touched by preventable gun violence tragedies.

It is unfathomable that House Republican leadership has thus far refused to take any action to address the gun violence epidemic, which is the leading cause of death for children and teenagers.

While there is bipartisan agreement that mental health is a serious public safety issue in our country, the gun homicide rate in the United States is 26 times that of other wealthy nations. It is not credible to address the gun violence epidemic without working to prevent people who are a danger to themselves or others from accessing firearms.

We again ask you to work with Democrats on any policies to end the gun violence epidemic.

BACKGROUND

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.

Earlier this year, Spanberger helped lead an effort to force a vote on three measures — the Assault Weapons Ban, Bipartisan Background Checks Act, and Enhanced Background Checks Act — that would save lives in Virginia and across the country.

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.

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