Two bills would increase federal funding for gun violence research, ensure that only authorized users can operate handguns

Washington (June 2, 2015) – As community advocates, clergy, elected leaders and victims call for action today on National Gun Violence Awareness Day, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) introduced two pieces of legislation to address the gun violence that is gripping communities across the country. The first bill would set aside $10 million in funding each year for FY2016-2021 at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct or support research on firearms safety or gun violence prevention. The second bill, the Handgun Trigger Safety Act, would improve gun safety by ensuring that only authorized users would be able to operate handguns utilizing personalization (or “smart gun”) technology. On average, there are 32,000 deaths and 76,00 injuries occurring from gun violence each year in the United States.

“The epidemic of gun violence in America is not preordained, it is preventable,” said Senator Markey. “In the 21st century, we should use research and advances in technology to our advantage and save lives from tragic and needless gun violence. These bills will keep guns out of the hands that of those who shouldn’t have them and provide better information about what is causing gun violence and what can be done to prevent it. These are sensible proposals that everyone, regardless of political party or affiliation, should be able to support. I thank Rep. Maloney for her partnership on this effort, and I recommit to stopping the hemorrhaging of lives and spirit that gun violence causes for families in Massachusetts and across the country.”

“Some would have us believe that the laws currently on the books are sufficient to address the tens of thousands of gun related deaths that occur each year,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “A few extremists even oppose basic public health research to help us understand why gun violence has reached epidemic proportions. They also oppose implementing new smart gun technologies that can help reduce the tragic number of accidental shooting deaths each year, many of which have taken the lives of young children. The majority of Americans support sensible steps to reduce the bloodshed in our streets, schools, churches and other public spaces. The bills I am introducing with Senator Markey today would help save lives and make our communities safer.”

Due to a ban on federal funding for gun violence research that almost halted entirely gun violence research, policymakers, health care practitioners, researchers, and others lack comprehensive, scientific information about the causes and characteristics of gun violence, or the best strategies to prevent future tragedies. President Obama lifted the 17-year ban in 2013, and earlier this year, he included $10 million for gun violence research in the Department of Health and Human Services Fiscal Year 2016 budget request.

The CDC research bill is endorsed by Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Stop Handgun Violence, Third Way, the Illinois Council to Prevent Gun Violence, Grandmothers Against Gun Violence, Children’s Defense Fund, Newtown Action, Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action, the Brady Campaign, Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, and the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence. Quotes from endorsing organizations can be found HERE

Senators co-sponsoring the CDC research bill are: Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai’i), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawai’i), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).

A copy of the legislation authorizing CDC gun violence prevention research can be found HERE.

The Handgun Trigger Safety Act would support the use of personalization (or smart gun) technology that allows the purchaser of a gun to designate authorized user(s) who can operate the gun and would make the gun inoperable for all others. Personalized handguns are already sold overseas and have been available in the United States since 2011.

Specifically, the Handgun Trigger Safety Act would:

·      Authorize grants to develop and improve “personalized” handgun technology to increase efficacy and decrease costs;

·      Mandate that, within five years of enactment, all newly manufactured handguns must be personalized, ensuring that they can only be operated by authorized users;

·      Mandate that, within ten years of enactment, anyone selling a handgun must retrofit it with personalization technology before that sale can be completed; and

·      Provide reimbursement to manufacturers for the costs of retrofitting handguns through the Department of Justice Assets Forfeiture Fund.

A copy of the Handgun Trigger Safety Act can be found HERE.

The Handgun Trigger Safety Act is co-sponsored by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and is endorsed by Grandmothers Against Gun Violence, Newtown Action Alliance, Stop Handgun Violence, and the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence.

The epidemic of gun violence in America is not preordained, it is preventable. In the 21st century, we should use...

Posted by Senator Edward J. Markey on Tuesday, June 2, 2015