Congressman Cohen Urges Judiciary Committee Chairman to Hold Hearings and Markups on Gun Violence Legislation

February 23, 2018
Press Release
Joins committee members in asking Chairman Goodlatte to consider sensible restrictions

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), the ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, joined his colleagues in asking Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte to bring gun violence prevention legislation before the committee, and made the following statement:

“The massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is just the most recent in a long string of gun-violence incidents that demand a legislative response from Congress. Efforts to look the other way until the next political scandal distracts us from the scourge of military-grade assault rifles and bump stocks that convert semi-automatics into automatic rifles on our streets won’t work this time.

“The outpouring of grief, now being channeled by energetic students and aimed at lawmakers, demands a response, with reasonable solutions to identifiable problems already in pending bills. Chairman Goodlatte should provide the American public an opportunity to see that we can address its concerns with a public airing of these issues and a detailed public examination of possible legislative remedies.

“We can fix the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, filling existing loopholes, with tweaks acceptable to most Americans. Rather than study bump stocks that increase the killing capacities of semi-automatic weapons, we can ban them immediately. We can raise the age at which someone can purchase a high-capacity assault rifle to the same age we permit for legally drinking or buying a handgun. If we let the Judiciary Committee go to work on these and other proposals, we can meet our obligation as legislators to our grieving people.”

Additional background:

Congressman Cohen is a cosponsor of the Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act (H.R. 3947). This bill would prohibit the sale of bump stocks, which modify semi-automatic rifles to replicate the rate of fire of a fully automatic weapon. Bump stocks were added to weapons used by the Mandalay Bay Hotel shooter in Las Vegas in October. This legislation would ban the possession of any fire arms accessory that accelerates the rate of fire of a semiautomatic rifle. 

Congressman Cohen is a cosponsor of the Gun Show Loophole Closing Act (H.R. 1612).  This bill requires operators of gun shows to undergo background checks to ensure that they are at least 21 years old, not prohibited from transporting or shipping guns, have registered as a gun show operator, have not lied as a part of the registration process or concealed information from the registry, and have verified the identity of every vendor who will be participating an upcoming gun show.

Congressman Cohen is a cosponsor of the Accidental Firearms Transfers Reporting Act   (H.R. 57).  This bill requires the Federal Bureau of Investigation to report the number of guns transferred as a result of a failure to complete a background check within three days, as well as what occurred after it was discovered that someone received a gun who was ineligible to have received it.

Congressman Cohen is a cosponsor of the Safer Communities Act (H.R. 4142).  The bill prohibits the purchase or possession of a firearm by individuals subject to involuntary outpatient commitment if a court finds they pose a significant and dangerous threat to themselves or others.  It also strengthens federal and state partnerships by providing grants to states to strengthen gun violence prevention laws that prohibit individuals with dangerous risk factors from possessing guns, and establishes a minimum restoration standard, ensuring a fair restoration process of gun ownership rights that balances public safety with that of the individuals’ rights, once cleared by a licensed mental health professional. In addition, the bill includes measures to strengthen and improve intervention efforts and boost mental health research, enhances information sharing and research on gun violence, and improves the submission of mental health records into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), the database used to determine whether or not a prospective buyer is eligible to buy a firearm.

Congressman Cohen is also a cosponsor of the Background Check Completion Act (H.R. 3464). The bill closes the loophole that allowed the shooter in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, to obtain a gun. The Brady Act mandates criminal background checks for all gun sales at licensed firearm dealers through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).  While the vast majority of checks are processed within minutes, if NICS has not completed its background check after three days, the dealer is allowed to proceed with the sale.  The bill stops the sales of firearms until the background check is completed.