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Opinion: Congress Must Never Give Up on Common-Sense Laws to Prevent Gun Violence

OpinionOpinion: Congress Must Never Give Up on Common-Sense Laws to Prevent Gun Violence

People react to school shootingPeople react in Uvalde, Texas, react to the deadly school shooting. REUTERS/Marco Bello

This past week, we were all shocked by the horrific news out of an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Like every week during the school year when I’m home from Washington, I dropped off my two kids, who are 9 and 8 years old, at our local public elementary school.

But after Uvalde, now when I see them leave for the school day, I think of all the parents who have lost their children to gun violence — who won’t be able to see them ever again.

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Like many parents, my wife and I are angry and disgusted that our kids are growing up in a country where they have to worry about being “next” when they arrive at school.

I’m also thinking of my own moral obligation to act as a member of the House of Representatives, a responsibility made clear when my 9-year-old son asked me, “Dad, what are you doing to help stop the next school shooting?”

I ask that you join me not only in praying for the families impacted by recent events but also with a renewed commitment to find solutions to address the scourge of gun violence in our country.

Common sense gun violence prevention measures must become law. Some of these have already passed in the House. The President is ready to sign. The Senate must act.

I’ve been a member of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force since coming to Congress in 2019. We’ve passed many measures in the House since then. Here are just a few:

  • The Bipartisan Background Checks Act (H.R. 8), which would prohibit a firearm transfer between private parties unless a licensed gun dealer, manufacturer, or importer has first conducted a background check.
  • The Enhanced Background Checks Act (H.R. 1446), which would close the “Charleston Loophole” that allows the sale of a firearm to go forward if they have not received the results of a background check within three days.
  • The Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act (H.R. 1620), which includes a provision that would report to local law enforcement if a person tried to acquire a firearm and failed a background check. It also included a provision that prohibited stalkers and those subject to a court order from possessing a firearm.

Now the House is preparing to act on additional gun violence prevention measures that I support, including the following:

  • The Kimberly Vaughan Firearm Safe Storage Act (H.R. 130), which includes a bipartisan bill I introduced to provide a tax credit for the retail sale of a safe storage device.
  • Ethan’s Law (H.R. 748), which would make it illegal for a person to store a firearm in their home without a safe storage device if the person knows a minor or person ineligible to own a gun is likely to gain access to the firearm.
  • The Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act (H.R. 2377), also known as the “Red Flag” law, which would allow family members and law enforcement to receive an extreme risk protection order to temporarily take firearms away from an individual who is considered a danger to themselves or to others by a federal court.
  • The Untraceable Firearms Act (H.R. 3088), which would change the definition of “ghost guns” — untraceable firearms built from kits ordered online — so that sellers are required to follow all federal regulations, including the completion of background checks, just like guns sold in stores.

All of these measures are broadly popular with virtually everyone except for corporate gun lobbyists and politicians unwilling to stand up to them. An overwhelming 88% in a new poll from Morning Consult and Politico support background checks on all gun sales.

Other common-sense measures are also extremely popular. Furthermore, 84% said they would support a “red flag” law to prevent sales of all firearms to people who have been reported as dangerous to law enforcement by a mental health provider.

So, why won’t the Senate act when the American people are in such strong support? Part of the problem is the huge amount of money the gun lobby spends buying politicians. Since I started running for Congress, I haven’t taken a dime in corporate PAC money.

That makes me a significant outlier — one of only about 40 in the House of 435 members. I’m proud to have cosponsored the Ban Corporate PACs Act, which would stop corporate PACs altogether.

As devastated as we are by recent events, we must keep fighting for what we know is common sense. As Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense In America, has said, “When it comes to protecting our children, our families and our communities from gun violence — moms will never give up.”

And many of us dads won’t, either.

Mike Levin represents California’s 49th Congressional District, which encompasses north coastal San Diego and south Orange counties.

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