The HEART Act would prohibit the transfer of machine guns and semiautomatic assault weapons to those under 16 years of age

Washington (July 12, 2016) – Today, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) introduced new legislation that would ensure that powerful, military-style weapons don’t end up in the hands of children. The Help End Assault Rifle Tragedies (HEART) Act of 2016 prohibits children under the age of 16 from possessing or firing machine guns and assault weapons, including at gun shows and shooting ranges. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is an original co-sponsor of the legislation.

Senator Markey and Congressman Gallego were joined today at a press conference announcing the legislation by the four children of Charles Vacca, a firearms instructor who was killed in Arizona in 2014 by a nine-year-old who lost control of an Uzi submachine gun. A similarly tragic incident occurred in 2008 in Westfield, Massachusetts when an eight-year-old child accidentally killed himself while firing an Uzi at a gun show.

“The small hands of children and big power of machine guns are a deadly combination,” said Senator Markey. “The HEART Act is simple and straightforward: It prohibits the transfer of a machine gun or semiautomatic weapon to anyone under the age of 16.  Not at a gun range, not at a gun show, not while hunting, not anywhere, anytime. Assault weapons are weapons of war and should not be allowed in the hands of children. I thank Rep. Gallego for his partnership on the HEART Act and look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this important bill.”

“At a time when our country has never been more divided on the issue of guns – and at a time when our society has never owned more firearms – I believe that there is room for bipartisan compromise in working to ensure that Americans practice responsible gun ownership at all times,” said Rep. Gallego. “Incidents across the country have proven that kids and powerful firearms are a dangerous and tragic mix. This bill is a common sense step to prevent more families like the Vacca family from having to mourn the loss of loved ones in preventable accidents involving powerful weapons.”


A copy of the HEART Act can be found HERE.


“We are grateful to Senator Markey and Representative Gallego for giving wings to our We Have a Voice movement through the Help End Assault Rifle Tragedies (HEART) Act,” said the children of Charlie Vacca. “We’re now calling upon kids across the nation and their parents support this brave bill by signing our petition.  Kids and assault weapons don’t mix.”


The legislation is supported by Stop Handgun Violence and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence united with Million Mom March.