Here's What LA's Representatives Say They're Doing To Prevent Mass Shootings
In the wake of the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings, a lot of you reached out to tell us that you wanted to know what your political leaders are doing to address the issue.
Well, ask and we shall deliver. We sought out the views of several members of California's Congressional delegation who represent the greater L.A. area. The efforts they highlighted broke down into a few broad categories:
- Bans on assault weapons
- Closing loopholes in the background check process
- Improving threat assessment techniques at the local level
- Funding new gun violence research
- Restricting the guns themselves
A BAN ON ASSAULT WEAPONS AND BUMP STOCKS
Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) said, for instance, that he supports legislation that would reinstate the assault weapons ban, as well as bills that would ban bump stocks (a device that can be attached to a semiautomatic weapon to make it fully automatic; the Las Vegas shooter used them) and high-capacity magazines.
U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, echoed that sentiment before a group gathered at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena on Monday.
"First responders responded quickly [in El Paso and Dayton]. But when a shooter can fire 30, 40 or 50 rounds in less than a minute, it will never be fast enough. The damage has already been done and the lives have already been destroyed," Schiff said.
The shooter in Dayton was carrying a device that could hold 120 bullets, a device that was previously banned under the 1994-2004 assault weapons ban, Schiff said.
"There is no reason anyone should be able to own a device [whose purpose is] to kill as many people as possible as fast as possible, which is exactly what he did," he said.
CLOSING LOOPHOLES FOR BACKGROUND CHECKS
Schiff also noted that the House of Representatives has passed two bills aimed at gun reforms that would expand background checks and close the so-called "Charleston loophole," which allowed Dylann Roof to buy a gun in 2015 and kill nine people inside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.
The "Charleston loophole" enables some firearms to be transferred by licensed gun dealers before the required background checks have been completed.
Below are more details on the two bills Schiff referred to:
- HR 8 would require a background check for most person-to-person firearm transfers. It aims to close a loophole allowing the sale of firearms at gun shows or between individuals without a background check.
- HR 1112 would extend to at least 10 days the amount of time firearms dealers must wait for a response from the background check system before proceeding with a sale. Currently, they can make the sale if they haven't received a response in three days.
Schiff said both bills are awaiting action in the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has so far refused to bring them up for a vote.
Speaking with LAist, U.S. Reps. Katie Porter (D-Irvine), Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), Katie Hill (D-Agua Dulce) and Lieu also called on McConnell to allow votes on HR 8 and HR 1112.
Hill mentioned two other pieces of legislation. The first is the Violence Against Women Act, which the House reauthorized in April. It added a provision closing the so-called "boyfriend loophole" by prohibiting anyone convicted of abusing, assaulting or stalking a dating partner or those subject to a court restraining order from buying or owning a gun.
The provision faces an uncertain future in the Senate.
FUNDING GUN VIOLENCE RESEARCH
The second piece of legislation Hill mentioned is an appropriation by the House of $50 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health to conduct research on gun violence as a public health issue.
Congress has not approved money for gun violence research since 1996, and this measure also faces an uncertain future in the GOP-controlled Senate.
IMPROVING THREAT ASSESSMENT TECHNIQUES
Hill is also a co-sponsor, along with some Republicans, of HR 838, known as the TAPS Act (the Threat Assessment, Prevention and Security Act). "It's really about developing a national strategy to prevent targeted violence through behavioral threat assessment and management," she said. "This is one of the things that every single community should be doing."
The bill calls for bringing the threat assessment techniques used by the FBI and other federal agencies down to the local level.