Gun Violence Prevention: Legislative Summary

Coalition to Stop Gun Violence - National Legislation Page

Amongst other things, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence closely monitors gun-related legislation on Capitol Hill and educates lawmakers and their staff about the need to enact sensible gun laws to reduce gun violence in America. Some key pieces of legislation making thier way through congress are listed below.

Universal Background Checks (H.R. 137, H.R. 141, S. 22)
The gun show loophole is one of the biggest gun control problems that the United States. Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) has introduced Fix Gun Checks Act of 2013 (H.R. 137), which would required background checks for any gun sales at any event that provide a venue for the sale or transaction of firearms, and the Gun Show Loophole Closing Act of 2013 (H.R. 141). Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has introduced a companion bill (S. 22) known as the Gun Show Background Check Act of 2013.

Under current law, background checks are only necessary when someone is buying from a Federal Firearms Licensee. The only people that need to acquire FFLs, however, are those that are primarily involved in the business of selling firearms. If your primary business is not selling firearms, then you are free to sell guns to whomever you want without running any background checks. This usually happens at gun shows, but the loophole also applies to "kitchen-table" sales, classified ads, and other private sales. At gun shows, private citizens bring their collection of guns for display and sale. Anyone can walk up to someone selling their gun, pay for it, and carry it out of the store. Proof of identification is required to register to vote, find a job, and to receive a driver's license, but not at many gun shows.

Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 (S. 150/H.R. 437)
The Assault Weapons Ban of 2013, introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), prohibits the manufacture, transfer, and importation of 157 of the most commonly-owned military assault weapons. The ban extends to weapons that accept a detachable ammunition magazine, and that have one or more military characteristics. The ban would also prohibit large-capacity magazines and other ammunition feeding devices that are capable of holding more than 10 rounds. Assault clips (or large-capacity ammunition magazines) are designed to enable shooting mass numbers of bullets quickly and efficiently without reloading. New magazines containing more than 10 rounds were banned under the Federal Assault Weapons Act of 1994, but became available again when Congress failed to renew the law in 2004. Extended magazines have been used consistently in mass shootings, including in Tucson, Virginia Tech, and Columbine. In all three cases, the shooters were only disabled when they paused to reload - with large capacity ammunition magazines, this can be after 30, 50 or even 100 rounds are fired.

Gun Trafficking Prevention Act of 2013 (S. 179/H.R. 452)
Introduced by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) and by Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Scott Rigell (R-VA), Pat Meehan (R-PA), and Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the act is a bipartisan effort to curb gun trafficking and the straw purchasing of weapons. The act would impose heavy penalties on the interstate shipment, transport, transfer, or disposal of two or more firearms to a person if the individual transferring the weapons has reason to believe that the transfer would violate any Federal, State or local law. The same punishment stands for the receipt of such weapons.

Under current law, cities and states with more restrictive gun laws fall victim to the lax federal regulations that fail to inhibit the interstate transfer of weapons from less restrictive states to those with more gun regulations. This often results in gun trafficking from states like Mississippi to those such as Illinois, and undermines the ability of states to regulate the commerce of weapons within their borders. The Gun Trafficking Prevention Act aims to mitigate this effect by instituting federal restrictions on such interstate commerce intended to bypass state regulations.