The 2018 midterm elections were a substantial step forward for the gun violence prevention (GVP) movement. For the first time in a generation, GVP champions in Congress have an opportunity to pass meaningful legislation. Since the passage of the Brady Background Check Bill 25 years ago, not one comprehensive GVP law has made its way to a President’s desk, but members of the 116th Congress who ran and won on this issue have a mandate from their constituents to make life-saving legislation a priority.
Since the Brady law was enacted, over 300 million background checks have taken place, and over 3 million firearm sales to prohibited purchasers have been stopped. We take great pride in this law, enacted with bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, passed by unanimous consent in the Senate, and signed into law by President Clinton.
Anyone who doubts that gun violence is an epidemic should understand this staggering fact: more Americans have been shot and killed since 1968 than have died on battlefields in all the wars in American history combined. In 2017 alone, gun violence claimed the lives of nearly 40,000 Americans. Our kids and teens are growing up in neighborhoods that are crippled by gun violence and we are not doing nearly enough to provide solutions that give young people a chance to survive and thrive. In far too many communities, parents who drop their kids off at school are steeling themselves against the fear that their child’s school could be the next target of a shooting. An America like this is not one that lives up to the ideals of our great nation, one that promises the right to live freely.
The American people sent a message in the 2018 midterm elections: it is past time to act. Through a combination of proactive policy measures, tools for community empowerment, and government transparency and accountability, the 116th Congress can take real steps to protect the American people from the scourge of gun violence. Here are 12 actions Congress can take to help end the epidemic of gun violence in America.
Expand background checks to all gun sales and transfers with very narrow exceptions
Expand the categories of persons prohibited from purchasing guns
Prevent access to assault weapons and high capacity magazines
Ban accessories like bumpstocks which enhance lethality
Outlaw the manufacture of ghost guns and 3-D printed guns
Provide grants to encourage passing extreme risk laws
Fully fund gun violence research at the CDC
Fund local community based programs to break the cycle of gun violence in urban areas
Promote safe storage and responsible gun ownership
Hold the ATF accountable for meaningful gun industry oversight
There is no one solution to saving American lives from the epidemic of gun violence. The responsibility to act is shared among our leaders in Congress, our communities, and ourselves. But the 116th Congress can take a leading role by using its power to enact life-saving laws, conduct oversight hearings into the agencies responsible for enforcing our laws, and by fully funding key intervention and research programs through the appropriations process that have languished under previous leadership entirely beholden to the gun industry.
Positive change can happen. We at Brady know that because we worked tirelessly until the Brady Background Check Law was finally enacted 25 years ago. We are at a new moment in time, again prepared to make history. The American people have made it clear that this problem can no longer be ignored, and we at the Brady Campaign are committed to working with you to ensure that life-saving change and comprehensive solutions are delivered to the American people.