June 02, 2016

Kaine Announces Support For Legislation To Lift De Facto Ban On Firearms Safety Research At The CDC & Strengthen Background Records Checks

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – On National Gun Violence Awareness Day, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine announced his support for two pieces of legislation to address gun violence – one that would lift a de facto twenty-year ban on firearms safety and gun violence prevention research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and another that would dramatically strengthen background record checks on all private and online firearm sales.

“I’m proud to support the CDC Research on Firearms Safety or Gun Violence Prevention Act and the Fix Gun Checks Act – two commonsense pieces of legislation to reduce gun violence in our communities and ultimately save lives,” Kaine said. “Congress cannot be complacent when gun violence remains so prevalent in American society. The CDC has the potential to play a vital role in addressing this epidemic. It’s time to put politics aside and provide the agency resources to do its job. Additionally, a more robust background record check system would help prevent people who are legally barred from owning a firearm from obtaining one. These are reasonable steps for members of Congress to find common ground and move forward.”

Since 1996, there has been a de facto ban on federal funding for gun violence research. Although Congress later restored the funding, language in the respective appropriations bill specified that “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the [CDC] may be used to advocate or promote gun control,” which the agency interpreted as a freeze on firearms research. As a result, policymakers, health care practitioners, researchers, and others lack comprehensive, scientific information about the causes and characteristics of gun violence, or the best strategies to prevent future tragedies.

The CDC Research on Firearms Safety or Gun Violence Prevention Act would:

  • Authorize the appropriation of $10 million annually from FY2016 through FY2021 to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct or support research on firearms safety or gun violence prevention.

This legislation is supported by the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Stop Handgun Violence, Third Way, the Illinois Council to Prevent Gun Violence, Grandmothers Against Gun Violence, Children’s Defense Fund, Newtown Action, Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action, the Brady Campaign, Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, and the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence.

The Fix Gun Checks Act would:

  • Close “private sale” loopholes – including the “gun show loophole,” internet sales, and other private transfers – by requiring background checks for transfers at gun shows and other venues not covered under current gun laws.
  • Require private gun transfers to go through a federal firearms licensee (FFL) who remains obligated to run background checks and maintain records on buyers.
  • Penalize states that fail to make data electronically available to National Instant Criminal Background Checks System (NICS) and clarify that NICS data should be available to federal courts.

Kaine has long-supported a comprehensive approach to curbing gun violence, including the expansion of mental health services, background record checks prior to gun purchases and responsible limits on combat-style weapons and high-capacity magazines. In January 2016, Kaine introduced legislation to end the gun industry’s liability shield. Last year, Kaine introduced the Responsible Transfer of Firearms Act to hold people responsible if they sell or transfer a firearm to someone who is barred by federal law from possessing one, as well as called for closing a loophole that allows a gun purchase to be carried out even if the background check is not completed.