RELEASE: Gottheimer Announces Common Sense Strategy to Combat Gun Violence and Ensure School Safety

Jun 10, 2022
Press

Gottheimer Urges Immediate Action with Moms Demand Action

Gottheimer Working with Bipartisan, Bicameral Group to Negotiate Common Sense Gun Safety Legislation

Above: Gottheimer in River Edge to announce a Common Sense Strategy to combat gun violence and ensure school safety.

RIVER EDGE, NJ — Today, June 10, 2022, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) joined with Moms Demand Action and announced a Common Sense Strategy to combat gun violence and ensure school safety, including ongoing discussions with members from both parties in the House and Senate, including with the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, to get commonsense bipartisan, bicameral legislation to the President’s desk.

Steps included in Gottheimer’s Common Sense Strategy to combat gun violence:

  • Red flag laws;
  • Raising the age to purchase a semi-automatic rifle;
  • Improved background checks;
  • Addressing the gun show, Charleston, boyfriend, and bump stock loopholes;
  • Putting in place new rules for proper at-home gun storage;
  • Expanding access to mental health services; and
  • Ensuring bipartisan, bicameral legislation can get to the President’s desk.

“There have already been more than 250 mass shootings this year — that’s more than the number of days we’ve had in the year. And 693 last year. Moms. Dads. Sons and daughters. Lives cut short. Families torn apart. Senseless violence,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “We need a Common Sense Strategy to combat gun violence and ensure school safety. That’s why I’m working with members from both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate, including with the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, which I co-chair, on commonsense bipartisan, bicameral legislation that can actually get to the President’s desk.” 

Gottheimer continued, “This week, in the House, we acted. We passed commonsense bipartisan legislation that would raise the age limit to 21 for purchasing a semi-automatic rifle, ban the sale of ammunition magazines with a capacity of more than 15 rounds, close the bump stock loophole, establish new federal offenses for gun trafficking, and put in place new rules on proper at-home gun storage. It’s now up to the Senate to get those bills to the President’s desk.”

“At this moment, we ask for progress. We live in a country where grieving parents have to beg for basic gun laws. The Protecting Our Kids Act, which passed the House on Wednesday, is progress,” Larisa Mendez Downs of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America said today. “We know that responsible gun owners support common sense gun laws and responsibility is what’s key.”

There have already been more than 250 mass shootings this year, including Uvalde, Laguna Woods, Buffalo, and just yesterday in Maryland. According to New Jersey’s Gun Violence Research Center, Jersey averages 475 firearm deaths a year. Between 2014 and 2021, there were more than 127,000 gun violence related deaths in America, as well as 27 school shootings this year alone. 

This week, Gottheimer helped pass commonsense bipartisan legislation in the House of Representatives that would raise the age limit to 21 for purchasing a semi-automatic rifle, ban the sale of ammunition magazines with a capacity of more than 15 rounds, close the bump stock loophole, establish new federal offenses for gun trafficking, and put in place new rules for proper at-home gun storage. These reasonable steps would protect children and families, save countless lives, and would not interfere with the ability to hunt or for a mom or dad to protect their family.

That is why Gottheimer is working with members from both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate, including with the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, which he co-chairs, on commonsense bipartisan, bicameral legislation that can actually get to the President’s desk — a core pillar of his has Common Sense Strategy. 

Gottheimer is also leading the following efforts to combat gun violence:

  • Introducing the bipartisan ALYSSA Act, named after Alyssa Alhadeff, who was originally from North Jersey, and who lost her life at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, to require schools nationwide to have silent alarms and to support trained school resource officers.
  • Cosponsoring and helping pass the bipartisan Protecting Our Kids Act in the House to raise the age limit to 21 for purchasing a semi-automatic rifle, ban the sale of ammunition magazines with a capacity of more than 15 rounds, close the bump stock loophole, establish new federal offenses for gun trafficking, and put in place new rules on proper at-home gun storage.
  • Cosponsoring and helping pass the bipartisan Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order in the House, which will empower family members and law enforcement to seek a federal court order to temporarily prohibit individuals from purchasing or possessing guns if they pose a danger to themselves or others. 
  • Cosponsoring assault weapons ban legislation to make it a crime to import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess a semiautomatic assault weapon. 
  • Cosponsoring H.R.8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, to close the Gun Show Loophole by expanding background checks.
  • Cosponsoring and helping pass the Enhanced Background Checks Act in the House to close the Charleston Loophole that allows a firearm sale to proceed even if the FBI has not yet completed a background check.

Gottheimer was joined today by Larisa Mendez Downs of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, as well as River Edge Councilwomen Lissa Montisano-Koen, Klodiana Malellari, and Indira Kinsella. 

Video of the announcement can be found here.

Below: Gottheimer holding a moment of silence in memory of the victims of gun violence.

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Below: Gottheimer announcing his Common Sense Strategy to combat gun violence and ensure school safety.

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Gottheimer’s full remarks as prepared for delivery are below.

Good afternoon. I want to begin with a moment of silence to remember the lives, especially the many young lives, we’ve lost just these past weeks to senseless gun violence – Uvalde, Laguna Woods, Buffalo, just yesterday in Maryland, and scores of others on our city streets and in communities across our country.  

There have already been more than 250 mass shootings this year — that’s more than the number of days we’ve had in the year. And 693 last year. Moms. Dads. Sons and daughters. Lives cut short. Families torn apart. Senseless violence. 

It’s so bad that our children and teachers have active shooter drills and are forced to huddle in the corner of classrooms or to stand on the top of a toilet seat and hide in the bathroom. And these guns aren’t what your grandfather used to hunt deer or protect the family. 

The AR-15s – and other weapons of war – are so powerful today that, in Uvalde, the police had to ask parents for a DNA swab because they couldn’t recognize many of the children literally killed in the classroom. That’s how powerful the impact of an AR-15 is — the bullets strike with 1,300 pounds of force — more than three times that of a handgun — and each magazine had a capacity of 30 of these destructive rounds. 

Let me read you what one doctor who treated Uvalde victims said this week: “two children whose bodies had been pulverized by bullets fired at them, decapitated, whose flesh had been ripped apart that the only clue as to their identities was the blood-spattered cartoon clothes still clinging to them.” 

If that’s not a call to action, then I don’t know what is.  

This week, in the House, we acted. We passed commonsense bipartisan legislation that would raise the age limit to 21 for purchasing a semi-automatic rifle, ban the sale of ammunition magazines with a capacity of more than 15 rounds, close the bump stock loophole, establish new federal offenses for gun trafficking, and put in place new rules on proper at-home gun storage. It’s now up to the Senate to get those bills to the President’s desk. But I know, like you do, that it won’t be easy. I’m not naïve. Neither is Moms Demand Action or the Brady Campaign. They understand the harsh reality — the obstructionism, and strong forces — that we have seen time and again. 

I’ll never forget April 20, 1999. I was 24-years-old and in the Oval Office, just hours after the tragedy at Columbine. Thirteen people were killed. Twenty injured. Children literally hanging out the school windows, bloody, lifeless. I thought for sure that day, as we cried with the President and the families of the victims, that we would take immediate action. That we would close the gun show loophole and stop the endless parade of school shootings. 

But here we are more than twenty years later.  

But as exhausted as we are, none of us have walked away from the fight. We’ve only strengthened. Republicans and Democrats, from big cities to small rural towns – all across my district. And, of course, we’ve got Moms Demand Action, Everytown, the Bergen County Brady Campaign, and so many others. 

And it’s not been without progress. After the tragedy in Parkland, the Problem Solvers Caucus helped pass bipartisan legislation to fund more school resource officers and improve National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) coordination between federal and local law enforcement. 

And we are lucky to live in a state with so many commonsense gun and school safety protections, backed by our law enforcement, including laws that prohibit the possession of assault weapons and semi-automatic rifles with a magazine capacity exceeding 15 rounds, and require a background check before receiving a gun permit. Unlike many other states, a gun dealer in New Jersey must contact the State Police to conduct the federally-required NICS background check before selling someone a gun. These laws keep guns out of the hands of criminals, terrorists, and domestic abusers. 

And we have Alyssa’s Law — named after Alyssa Alhadeff, who was originally from North Jersey, and who lost her life at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. This law requires that all Jersey public schools install silent panic alarms. I’ve introduced the bipartisan ALYSSA Act in Congress to require schools nationwide to have silent alarms and trained school resource officers.

But, while impactful, commonsense laws are on the books here in Jersey and in other states, let’s be honest — we are still far from where we need to be — more must be done to protect our children, families, and communities. Even with our tough gun laws here in Jersey, we are still not immune to gun violence. According to New Jersey’s Gun Violence Research Center, our state averages 475 firearm deaths a year. Yes, 475. That’s twenty classrooms of children. The numbers in other states without commonsense measures are even worse. Between 2014 and 2021, there were more than 127,000 gun violence related deaths in America. Twenty-seven school shootings this year alone. 

So what do we do? We need a Common Sense Strategy to combat gun violence and ensure school safety.

No one needs an AR-15-style assault rifle. Hunting and having a firearm for protection are one thing, but no deer should be going up against an AR-15, and a civilian certainly shouldn’t have a gun built for war. And there’s no reason anyone should be able to buy a gun in the next thirty minutes. Nothing good could come of that. 

An individual should have to wait until a proper background check has been completed. I’m sick and tired of having to explain to moms and dads, here in the greatest country in the world, that, despite what seems like an obvious solution for an epidemic, I know that very powerful interest groups will do everything they can to try and hold progress hostage.

It’s time for the light to overcome the darkness. 

First, as part of our commonsense agenda, we passed in the House this week, we need reasonable, bipartisan, common sense gun safety legislation. No one under the age of 21 should be able to purchase a semi-automatic rifle, we should ban ammunition magazines with a capacity greater than 15 rounds, and we should close the bump stock loophole.  

If someone is going to own a gun, then they also have the responsibility to secure the gun properly. How many more children will we have to lose to a gun that’s left loaded and sitting around?

Many of my colleagues preach personal responsibility. So take some responsibility — walk the walk. The bill we passed this week puts in place new rules on proper at-home gun storage. That’s just common sense. 

We also need real background checks for every single commercial transaction, universally, including at gun shows, so that no criminal, gang member, terrorist, or individual with a mental illness can brandish a lethal weapon. 

I also cosponsored H.R.8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, to close the Gun Show Loophole by expanding background checks.

And we need to close the Charleston Loophole, which currently allows a firearm sale to proceed even if the FBI has not yet completed the background check. That’s absurd. The shooter in the Charleston Massacre, Dylann Roof, bought his gun and killed nine people before the FBI had completed his background check. Legislation to close the Charleston Loophole passed in the House earlier this year.

I also helped pass the bipartisan Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order, which will empower family members and law enforcement to seek a federal court order to temporarily prohibit individuals from purchasing or possessing guns if they pose a danger to themselves or others. 

We also need real red flag legislation to prevent people who are domestic abusers or those with mental illness from having a weapon. If people suffer from mental health issues, they shouldn’t have access to a firearm. And we should be able to look at a juvenile’s record before selling a younger person a gun. Those are relevant facts that potentially could have been helpful in the recent Texas school shooting. 

We also must close the so-called boyfriend loophole, so that federal law prohibits domestic abusers from having guns, regardless of if they’ve been married to the victim or not. Right now, the law doesn’t apply to abusive dating partners.

We also know that one part of the greater gun problem we have here in America is the mental health crisis. Now, although it won’t cure gun violence, we must also expand access to mental health services.

These are all reasonable commonsense steps – and ones that will protect our children and families, and save countless lives. And they will in no way interfere with the ability to hunt – as I have myself – or for a mom or dad to protect their family. But I also know that getting all of this through the Senate won’t be easy.  

That’s why I’m also working with members from both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate, including with the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, which I co-chair, on commonsense bipartisan, bicameral legislation that can actually get to the President’s desk. Work on the framework is still taking place, but initial talks have been very promising and I remain optimistic. 

How many horrific shootings will it take for us to come together and make a change?

Time is up and it has been for a long time.

Together, with the House moving forward on multiple pieces of legislation, I know that we can come together, across party lines, and keep our children safe. We have to. They’re our future. We owe this to them.

Together, with the advocacy of Moms Demand Action and so many others, the bravery of our local law enforcement, and with the safety of our children as our top priority, I know that the light will overcome the darkness – and, as ever, here in the greatest country in the world, our best days will always be ahead of us.

Thank you, God bless you and our children, and may God continue to bless and watch over the United States of America.

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