Gun Safety

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Gun Safety Should Be a National Priority

The leadership of the National Rifle Association has developed into little more than a hired bully for gun manufacturers. NRA lobbyist Wayne LaPierre and his ilk bully Republican members of Congress into a corner, and it is unacceptable. It is unacceptable to the parents who have lost countless memories and birthdays with their children. It is unacceptable to the communities who have been forever broken by avoidable tragedies that have hit them at home. It is unacceptable to the teachers and administrators, the movie watchers and mall shoppers, and to the town hall visitors and members of Congress who have fallen victim to gun violence by those who never should have had a weapon in the first place. And it is unacceptable to me.

In the United States Army, we are trained to stand up to bullies. I fought bullies when I volunteered to go to Iraq. And when I go to Congress I will stand up to the bullying tactics of the NRA because not one more life lost prematurely is acceptable.

Reinstitute a Ban on Assault-Style Weapons & High-Capacity Magazines

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: If you want an assault-style, automatic weapon and a high-capacity magazine, do what I did and join the United States Army. I’ve seen up close the violent damage these kinds of weapons can do, and I can definitively say that they have no place in the hands of private citizens. There’s no need to list off every mass shooting in the last several years, it’s sufficiently damning of America that these events happen here with numbing frequency, and we refuse to do anything about it.

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It’s not surprising that these guns are the weapons of choice for the notorious mass shooters that continue to dominate the news in our country. They are weapons of death—designed to kill on a massive scale. The only reason a private citizen can accurately use or justifying owning an assault-style weapon or high-capacity magazine is that he or she is seeking to commit mass murder and violence on innocent American lives.

This should not even be a question our country’s leadership struggles with, let alone one it repeatedly comes down on the wrong side of, with Republicans’ refusal to stand up to the powerful gun lobby and say definitively that the tools mass shooters use to slaughter innocent civilians should be illegal.

Republicans’ weakness in the face of the NRA and gun manufacturers has had a direct consequence in the form of the rise in mass shootings that have killed hundreds of America’s mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters. Republicans get the same news all of us do, and yet, they continue to turn a blind eye to Sutherland Springs. To Las Vegas. To Sandy Hook.

These mass shootings will continue and shooters will continue to use automatic weapons, unless Congress wakes up and uses the power they have to criminalize these weapons and get them out of the hands of mass murderers. Just as I won’t ignore or forget the hundreds of innocent Americans who die each year from mass shootings, I will fight every day for outlawing the weapons used to end their lives.

Establish National Background Checks & No-Fly, No-Buy

Without federal leadership on the issue of universal background checks and mental illness preclusions, and tighter restrictions to gun ownership, guns will continue to fall into the hands of those who cause a threat to innocent American citizens.

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This should be a no-brainer, but unfortunately, when left to the states, local legislators have failed spectacularly on this issue. Lamentably, yet as has come to be routine, Congress has failed to do anything productive to address this issue.

In Texas and many other states, it takes less than 45 minutes to buy a semi-automatic weapon. The shooter in the Sutherland Springs tragedy walked right into a gun shop and purchased the weapons that would kill 26 innocent churchgoers at a Sunday morning service. How anyone in Congress—or anywhere—can learn this and not say something needs to change, is beyond me.

I will further fight for increased transparency between agencies and jurisdictions to ensure guns don’t get into the wrong hands. For example I would support legislation mandating that Social Security Administration would have to report certain Social Security recipients with psychiatric disabilities to the FBI’s background check database as ineligible to buy guns.

Further, I will work to ensure that anyone who is deemed too much of a risk to fly on an airplane is unable to buy a weapon. This should be common sense and the risk to public safety far exceeds the possibility of human error in assessing the threat.

Incentivize Gun Surrender Through Cash for Guns & Impunity Programs

Cash for guns programs have transformed communities. Just ask Detroit and Cleveland, to name a few cities that have collected scores of guns—many illegal—and made their communities safer in the process.

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I will advocate for a federal gun surrender program that either uses a tax on ammunition to pay for guns, or the promise of immunity to those who surrender illegal weapons, no questions asked, as getting guns off the streets should be our first and foremost priority. Impunity has worked at drug surrender programs as a powerful incentive, and it can work to get illegal guns out of our communities nationwide, and here in our district.

Protect State Laws

I will stand strong against any legislation that attempts to allow for the preemption of state laws that regulate or ban concealed or open carry. Full stop. States and communities know what is right for their jurisdictions and we should not allow gun manufacturers to bully Congress to overstep these common sense regulations.