Proposed gun control legislation aimed at stricter background checks
WASHINGTON – In the wake of the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Florida, many Democrats in Congress are pushing for stricter gun control legislation.
Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) introduced a bill Tuesday that would bring back an Obama-era mental health check process.
“I thought Congress would act after Sandy Hook, after Las Vegas, and we certainly need to act now. Enough is enough,” Maloney said at a news conference Tuesday.
As part of a comprehensive background check, the bill would require the Social Security Administration to report to the National Instant Crime Background Check Service the names of people who have a documented mental health issue, receive disability benefits and cannot manage those benefits themselves because of severe mental impairment.
Once in the database, the person would be informed with written and oral notices. They would have the right to remove their name by proving that they are capable of managing their own financial affairs or that they are not a threat to the public.
The bill would reinstate an Obama-era regulation that President Donald Trump repealed. The regulation was enacted after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012, in which 20 children and six adults were killed.
Pascrell said he hopes that the bill is just the start of a change in gun-control laws and a decrease in gun violence.
“We need a concerted and comprehensive effort to address gun violence and the gun violence epidemic,” he said at the news conference, adding, “no one should pretend that this bill alone is an adequate response to this epidemic. … Even if this bill passes, we still have a long way to go.”
Republicans in Congress have traditionally opposed gun control legislation, but in Monday morning’s Senate session, Senate Majority Leader John Cornyn said “one step we can take right now is to pass the Fix NICS bill,” which has bipartisan support.
Pascrell said Tuesday that he and Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) will introduce legislation in the House later this week to increase the excise tax on guns and ammunition to “support violence prevention efforts.”
On Feb. 14, 17 students, teachers and staff were killed at Stoneman Douglass High in Parkland, Fla. Nikolas Cruz, 19, has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.