PROVIDENCE, RI - Today, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline joined with advocates from Moms Demand Action to renew calls for urgent federal legislative action to address the growing epidemic of community gun violence and preventable mass-shootings nationwide.

For years, Senators Reed and Whitehouse and Congressmen Langevin and Cicilline have championed legislation to help prevent repeated mass-shootings by voting to strengthen background checks, enact a bipartisan “red flag” proposal that would help keep guns out of the hands of unstable people, ban assault rifles, repeal the law that grants gun makers and sellers immunity from lawsuits, and enact other effective gun violence reduction strategies.

During today’s event, Reed stated:

“We need better background checks. Period. And we need to restore the ban on assault-style weapons just as we ban machine guns.

“Americans support universal background checks. They should be straightforward, comprehensive, and effective.

“We also need a tougher, standardized, federal red flag law that would help keep guns out of the hands of unstable people.

“Senator Marco Rubio and I put forward a bipartisan bill: The Extreme Risk Protection Order and Violence Prevention Act.

“It would dedicate U.S. Department of Justice funds to incentivize states to adopt laws similar to Florida’s ‘risk protection orders’ and Rhode Island’s ‘red flag’ law.

“It gives law enforcement the authority to prevent individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others from purchasing or possessing firearms, while still providing due process protections.

“This is about saving lives. Red flag laws have proven to be an important tool in keeping guns away from individuals who have demonstrated clear warning signs of danger to themselves and others,” noted Reed. 

Under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the U.S. House of Representatives has passed two bills to strengthen background checks on gun sales since 2021, but the Senate has been unable to pass those bills or any other gun violence prevention measures because of Republican opposition.  Democrats and Independents currently hold 50 seats in the U.S. Senate and a tie-breaking vote in Vice President Kamala Harris.  However, Senate rules effectively require 60 votes to advance legislation and Republican leaders have adamantly opposed gun violence prevention measures.

So far in 2022, there have been 27 school shootings across the country that resulted in injuries or deaths.  But despite the uptick in gun violence, the majority of Republican-appointed justices on the U.S. Supreme Court will soon issue its biggest gun ruling in more than a decade, one that is expected to make it easier for anyone to carry guns in public in some of the nation's largest cities.

“This is the most partisan Supreme Court in recent history. Some of these Justices seem more focused on fulfilling Republicans’ partisan wish-list than impartially serving justice,” said Reed.  “Gunmakers should not be exempt from the law.  But unfortunately they have near-total immunity from lawsuits.  And the Supreme Court is on the verge of flooding communities nationwide with guns by rolling back commonsense restrictions. The simple fact is that gun manufacturers advertise to audiences in a way that knowingly and recklessly puts public safety at risk.  They can and should be held accountable.  All of us – all Americans, and especially children – deserve to be safe in schools, or our places of worship, shopping malls, movie theaters, concert venues, workplaces, neighborhoods, and homes.”

According to the gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, which was started after the 2012 mass-shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Rhode Island ranks 12th in the nation for toughness and completeness of state gun laws.  The report also notes the Ocean State has the 4th lowest gun-death rate (5.1 gun deaths per 100,000 residents) in the nation.  Everytown for Gun Safety examines a total of 50 policies in each state, covering areas such as the gun industry and product safety, guns in public, keeping guns out of the wrong hands, policing and civil rights, and sales and permitting.

Senator Reed has introduced and cosponsored several key pieces of gun violence prevention legislation this Congress, including:

  • The Background Check Expansion Act (S. 529) – would require background checks for the sale or transfer of all firearms. This requirement extends to all unlicensed sellers, whether they do business online, at gun shows, or out of their home.
  • The Background Check Completion Act (S. 591) – would close a current loophole that allows gun sales to proceed if a background check is not completed after 72 hours, even if the gun buyer is not legally allowed to purchase a gun.
  • The Assault Weapons Ban (S. 736) – would ban the sale, transfer, manufacture and importation of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
  • The Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act (S. 878) - would, for the first time, make it an explicit federal crime to act as a straw purchaser of firearms.  The bill would also create penalties for anyone who transfers a firearm with reasonable cause to believe that it will be used in a drug crime, crime of violence, or act of terrorism.
  • The Gun Records Restoration and Preservation Act (S. 974) – would repeal current provisions that prohibit the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) from collecting, preserving and disclosing gun records and gun-tracing data to cities, states, researchers, litigants, and members of the public.
  • The Untraceable Firearms Act (S. 1558) – would ban “ghost” guns, which are assault weapons built from separately ordered unfinished parts, thereby allowing individuals to circumvent ID, licensing, and background check laws for gun purchases.
  • The 3D Printed Gun Safety Act (S. 2319) – would prohibit the online distribution of blueprints and instructions that allow for the three-dimensional (3D) printing of firearms.
  • The Keeping Gun Dealers Honest Act (S. 2320) – would strengthen accountability measures for irresponsible gun dealers and provides the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives with additional resources for enforcement.