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Peter DeFazio for Congress

An important message on gun safety and the NRA

I’ve heard from many Oregonians asking if I’ve ever accepted a campaign contribution from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and it’s easy for me to answer: I’ve never accepted a campaign contribution from the NRA and this will not change. However, it is time for change on the issue of gun violence in America.

As you know, on February 14th a gunman opened fire at a high school in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 students and teachers and wounding many more. This brutality has left their families, their community, and the nation grappling to find a solution to this problem.

More than twenty years ago, the shooting at Thurston High School occurred just two miles from my home in Springfield, Oregon. After that tragedy, my views on weapons access and type changed considerably. Over the past two decades, our society has changed dramatically and we have to evolve to address and meet the needs of our fellow citizens today. From Sandy Hook Elementary School, to Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, to Roseburg’s Umpqua Community College, our nation barely has time to process one mass shooting before the next one happens. That’s why I am open to legislation that would effectively ban military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

Many Americans would be shocked by how easy it is to obtain a deadly weapon in many parts of this country. Republicans at the federal level have refused to close the gun show loophole meaning that individuals who are barred from owning weapons, including convicted felons, can legally purchase firearms through gun shows and private sales without ever having to pass a background check. It’s common sense: requiring background checks for every gun purchase is the best first line of defense for ensuring that guns don’t get into the hands of dangerous individuals.

I’ve pushed for sensible solutions to our nation’s gun problems for years and have challenged my Republican colleagues to enact the same commonsense proposals at the federal level that we have here in Oregon, such as universal background checks. After the mass shooting in Las Vegas I stood with gun violence survivor and former Representative Gabby Giffords and Representative John Lewis on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building and called on Republican Leadership to take immediate action to ban bump stock devices. Even after that national tragedy that left 58 people dead, Republicans refused to allow legislation banning bump stocks to come to the floor. This is infuriating and unacceptable.

I’ve pushed Speaker Ryan to name a Select Committee to investigate the causes of and lessen the potential for gun violence in America. This should be something that every Member of Congress supports regardless of political party. It is long past time for Congress to remove the unintended research ban on the Centers for Disease Control to research gun violence as a public health threat. In 1993, I supported legislation to create the National Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to help keep guns out of the hands of prohibited individuals and I am a co-sponsor of the Gun Violence Restraining Order Act. This bill would help enable family members seek emergency protective orders against someone who poses a threat to themselves or others, temporarily barring that individual from being able to purchase or possess firearms.

The unfortunate reality of a Republican controlled Congress is that a vote on meaningful gun control measures is highly unlikely. We have to change the leadership in Congress to change the gun laws in America. I am deeply inspired by the brave action of students across the country demanding change and pushing for stronger gun control laws. As more of them reach voting age, and take action at the ballot box we will begin to see true change.

In the meantime, you can be sure that I’ll be working to take effective steps to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals and prevent gun violence. Thanks for your support -- stay engaged and stay energized.

Peter

Posted on March 23, 2018.