Kamala Harris photo

Statement by the Vice President on Proposed Rule Expanding Background Checks & Reducing Gun Violence

August 31, 2023

Gun violence is the leading cause of death of children in America. A heartbreaking one in five Americans has lost a family member to gun violence.

Since taking office, President Biden and I have taken historic steps to save lives. Last year we passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the first major gun safety legislation in nearly 30 years. Among its many provisions, this law broadened the definition of who is required to become a licensed gun dealer and run background checks before completing a gun sale. And this year, the President directed the Attorney General to implement universal background checks to the fullest extent possible under existing law.

Today, the Department of Justice is proposing a regulation that would make clear when gun sellers are required to register as gun dealers and run background checks on purchases. Whether the seller operates at a store, a gun show, or over the internet, the same standard applies. Before someone can buy a gun, we should know whether they are a convicted felon or domestic abuser, or have otherwise been found by a court to be a danger to themselves or others.

As a former prosecutor and elected District Attorney, I have seen what a bullet does to the human body, held hands with parents who have lost a child, and tried to comfort children who were traumatized by witnessing a shooting. This moment requires more than words – it requires action.

It is a false choice to suggest that we have to choose between either supporting the Second Amendment or passing reasonable gun safety laws – we can do both. All people in every community across our Nation have a right to be safe. This proposed regulation will help realize that goal and save lives.

But there is more to do. Congress must pass legislation to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, require safe gun storage, end immunity from liability for gun manufacturers, and require background checks on all gun sales—even those by gun dealers who are not registered. The President and I will not stop fighting to end this Nation's epidemic of gun violence.

Kamala Harris, Statement by the Vice President on Proposed Rule Expanding Background Checks & Reducing Gun Violence Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/364536

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