The Constitution guarantees the right of individual, law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms. I am committed to protecting the Second Amendment and will fight any attempts to weaken that fundamental right.
I voted against both H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, and H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act, because they infringe upon the Constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens and fail to take any meaningful steps that would have prevented recent mass shootings. Neither of these measures – had they been in place – would have prevented mass shootings like the ones that have been committed in recent years in Parkland, Las Vegas, Sandy Springs and Charleston, for instance.
The Bipartisan Background Checks Act passed the House of Representatives on February 27, 2019 by a vote of 240 to 190 and would expand the background check system for firearms to include those sold online, in the newspaper and at gun shows. The bill fails to address the root causes of mass shootings and criminalizes the actions of law-abiding citizens seeking to defend themselves, like domestic violence victims borrowing a handgun from a friend for protection.
The Enhanced Background Checks Act, which passed the House on February 28 by a vote of 228 to 198, would extend the current three-day background check waiting period to 20 days. Not only will the bill not help prevent mass shootings, but the bill’s ambiguous language could make it unlawful for any veteran being evaluated for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or any other mental illness, to own a firearm. This legislation would effectively strip more than 1.6 million veterans of their due process and Second Amendment rights and some veterans will avoid seeking care to ensure they aren’t stripped of their Second Amendment rights. I offered an amendment to the bill to fix this problem but it wasn’t allowed to be considered for a vote.
I believe there are commonsense steps to ensure that federal and state agencies follow laws that are already on the books. This is why I supported the Fix NICS Act, a bipartisan bill that ensures federal and state law enforcement agencies are complying with existing laws and reporting criminal records to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The Fix NICS Act does not add any new restrictions to gun ownership, but instead will incentivize better reporting to ensure relevant data is uploaded. Had individuals been properly reported to the database, it is possible that shootings like the ones at churches in Charleston, SC, and Sutherland Springs, TX, could have been prevented, among others. And it’s possible that if law enforcement had acted on the numerous warning signals that were received on the Parkland shooter, the school shooting in Florida could have been prevented as well. The Fix NICS Act was signed into law as a part of H.R. 1625, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which I voted for when it passed the House on March 22, 2018, by a vote of 256 to 167.
Concealed Carry Reciprocity
I am a proud cosponsor of H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which was introduced by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC). This legislation would allow individuals with a concealed-carry gun permit legally obtained in their home state to carry a concealed firearm in any other state that permits concealed carry, provided they follow applicable state laws.
There is currently a confusing patchwork of laws that gun owners must follow if they want to concealed carry in another state. We saw the issues this patchwork of laws causes firsthand when the state of Virginia announced in December 2015 that it would end concealed carry reciprocity with Tennessee. This misguided decision would have been confusing and unworkable for law-abiding Tennesseans, especially those living near the Virginia border in northeast Tennessee. Luckily this decision was reversed in January 2016. A national concealed carry reciprocity bill would prevent these issues from arising and would allow concealed carry permit holders to lawfully carry firearms across state lines.