Conyers Joins Gun Violence Prevention Forum in Calling for Action Now
Washington, DC, January 24, 2013
Yesterday, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) participated in a forum put on by the Gun Violence Prevention Taskforce, established by Minority Leader Pelosi. Following his participation in the forum, Congressman Conyers issued this statement:
“As gun violence continues to pervade our nation, I commend the Gun Violence Prevention Taskforce for their continued focus on the issue.
“A broad spectrum of witnesses at today’s hearing, and at the hearing of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee last week, have proposed a number of ways for Congress to act to help reduce gun violence in our communities. Based on those ideas, and the recommendations announced last week by the President and Vice President, I call on Congress to act now, including adoption of these important priorities:
“First, we must require background checks for all gun sales. Current law only requires licensed gun dealers to perform the checks before selling a gun. Non-licensed sellers do not have to perform checks, and it’s estimated that 40% of guns are sold by private sellers without checks. This is unacceptable, and is a major drive of gun violence in this country.
“Second, we must ban semi-automatic assault weapons. In 1994, Congress enacted a ban, but it expired in 2004. Military-grade weapons simply do not belong on our streets.
"Third, we must ban high-capacity ammunition magazines. As with assault weapons, Congress had banned high-capacity ammunition magazines but the ban expired in 2004 due to the law’s sunset provision. High-capacity magazines, which have the capacity of holding more than 10 bullets, allow shooters to spray a high-volume of bullets at people without reloading, making guns much more deadly.
“Fourth, we must address the root causes of violent crime in our communities through programs which are proven to prevent crime.
“Fifth, we must also address the mental health crisis in our country, in which approximately 26% of our population suffers from serious mental illness. I applaud President Obama’s call for a new initiative to train mental health professionals and deploy them in our communities. And I commend the action the President is taking to finalize regulations to establish insurance parity between mental health treatment and treatment for physical health.
“Above all else, we must take a comprehensive approach to preventing firearms violence, including these actions and others as President Obama has recommended, because the scope of the problem is enormous.
“There are 33 people murdered with firearms every day in America. The actions we take must reflect that the fact that we have the equivalent of a mass shooting every day. Over 58,000 U.S. soldiers were killed during the entirety of the Vietnam War. However, gun violence kills more civilians in America every two years.
“In the past several years, tragedies arising from gun violence have impacted our schools, movie theaters, and even local Congressional events. The time is now for Congress to take action on these proposals, so we can address the national crisis of gun violence before another tragedy occurs yet again.”