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Statement by Kirsten Gillibrand: Trump Promised to Strengthen Background Checks, Then Reneged. Here's My Plan to Do It.

July 10, 2019

No more broken promises — I'll combat gun violence and protect American families

Every day, 100 Americans are killed with guns. This should not only make every single one of our leaders heartsick and furious — it should make them act to stop the deaths. But despite countless shootings and massive public support for gun safety measures, we still haven't passed commonsense reform. There's just one reason: The NRA, and its blood money, have a chokehold on Republicans in Congress.

We need a president who will stand up to the gun lobby's greed and take action to save lives, even if Congress won't. Donald Trump has proven he will never be that president.

President Trump's broken promise

In February of last year, President Trump said he'd support stronger background checks on the sales of firearms to protect Americans from gun violence. A year later, the House of Representatives passed a bill to do just that — and President Trump threatened to veto it if it passed the Senate.

It's been almost 500 days since President Trump made his promise. That means we can estimate that approximately 50,000 people have died from gun violence while he's been too cowardly and dishonest to step up.

President Trump has broken a lot of promises, but this one is different. People are dying. And we can't wait any longer for a change.

How I'll fix it

If we want to pass commonsense gun safety measures, we have to be willing to take on the NRA with everything we've got and root out its influence in our government. I'm prepared to do just that — like I have done for over a decade — but I also know that we can't just wait for Congress. That's why my plan includes steps I'll take as president immediately, without congressional action, and that empower communities to prevent violence in the future. Here's how:

I'll combat gun trafficking at the federal level.

As president, I'll issue an executive order directing the Department of Justice to prosecute gun trafficking through conspiracy charges. A Republican-led filibuster after the Sandy Hook tragedy blocked legislative efforts to make gun trafficking a federal crime — leaving a patchwork of state laws with no federal statute for prosecutors to crack down on guns being sold and carried illegally across state lines, especially up the Iron Pipeline. So I'll use executive authority as president to take immediate federal action, while urging the new Congress to send legislation to my desk to make trafficking a federal crime with stiff penalties.

Because Republicans have succeeded in preventing a federal anti-gun trafficking law, even existing safeguards can fail to stop guns from getting into the wrong hands. Often, individuals who are prohibited from buying guns and people who want to avoid tracing can obtain firearms through straw purchases.

In my administration, the Department of Justice will be directed to pursue conspiracy charges against gun traffickers — including straw purchasers — as they have conspired to violate other gun laws already on the books.

I'll expand background checks and close loopholes.

We will require universal background checks for all gun sales and transfers, including unlicensed sellers (as the Background Checks Expansion Act would do). We'll also close the Charleston Loophole and establish red flag laws to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals, including terrorists and domestic abusers.

I'll ban military-style assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.

We can respect the Second Amendment while preventing our schools, movie theaters, dance clubs, concert halls, workplaces, and other public spaces from becoming massacre scenes. Weapons of war don't belong on our streets.

I'll increase federal resources for stopping gun violence in local communities.

I'll help local law enforcement, citizens, and research professionals prevent deaths and hold perpetrators accountable by:

  • Providing federal resources to help local law enforcement trace guns used in crimes
  • Requiring local law enforcement to participate in the national data collection system for gun crimes
  • Repealing the Tiahrt Amendment to allow firearms trace data to be used in civil lawsuits and academic research on gun use in crime
  • Repealing civil liability immunity for gun manufacturers

The national statistics on gun violence are gut-wrenching, but we can't become numb to it. Those numbers are lives: families torn apart, futures cut short, survivors with life-long complications and trauma, entire communities changed forever. We owe it to each and every one of them to give this fight everything we've got.

I will never let up on the fight to protect American families and communities. And that's a promise I'll keep.

Kirsten Gillibrand, Statement by Kirsten Gillibrand: Trump Promised to Strengthen Background Checks, Then Reneged. Here's My Plan to Do It. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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