By Anand Vasu
Carolyn Maloney, House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman, unveiled a legislative package of five bills focused on gun safety, on Feb. 9.
Maloney introduced the Gun Trafficking Prevention Act, which would make gun trafficking a felony. It would also make straw purchasing — the act of buying a gun for someone who was ineligible to do so themselves — a felony, from a misdemeanor offence.
The Handgun Trigger Safety Act, would incentivize the development of “smart-gun technology” that would only allow authorized gun owners to fire a gun. Maloney also introduced the Firearm Risks Protection Act, which would require gun owners to purchase liability insurance.
The New York Democrat also unveiled the Gunshow Loop Hole Act to require people who buy guns at gun shows to undergo background checks, according to an article in The Hill.
The NICS Review Act will require the FBI retain records of the National Instant Criminal Background Check system for at least 90 days so that the agency and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives can review records.
The five proposals Maloney put forward were unlikely to have widespread support, The Hill article said. Even assuming the proposals made it past the Democratically controlled House they would need 10 Republican votes to reach the figure of 60 needed to get past the Senate.
Despite the numbers being stacked against her, Maloney was optimistic about the passage of the bills. “We’re particularly positioned well to pass these bills that have been around a long time, and that the American people … overwhelmingly support,” Maloney is cited as saying in the article. “So we have a, we have a very good opportunity.”
The timing of the proposals is key, coming as they do close to the third anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Fla. in which 17 people were killed when a gunman opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle. The killing spree was the deadliest high school shooting in the US, with two casualties more than the Columbine High School massacre of 1996 which claimed 15 lives.
Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was one of the victims of the Stoneman High shooting, said Maloney’s proposals treated gun violence as public health issue rather than a Second Amendment one. “The reality of gun violence and gun safety is not a second amendment conversation,” Guttenberg said. “It is not, it is a public health conversation.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted nearly 40 million background checks in 2020, a record number as the country dealt with the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 election, and protests over racial injustice. The increase in background checks, considered a good indicator of the the trend of actual guns sold, was attributed to the unusual circumstances of the year 2020.
“People feel uncertain,” Adam Winkler, Author of the book “Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America,” said according to an article in The Hill. “And when you’re feeling uncertain, and you feel like you’re vulnerable, a firearm is one of the things that you might look to to provide you with protection.”
According to the Gun Violence Archive, more than 43,000 people died of gun violence-related deaths in 2020.