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Sires, Booker, Menendez and Payne Rally for Common Sense Gun Violence Solutions

Jun 20, 2016
Press Release
Democratic-led filibuster successful in forcing votes on measures to close terror gap, expand background checks

(Newark, N.J.)– As the nation continues to grieve in the wake of last week’s deadly terror attack in Orlando, today U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez (both D-NJ) led a rally in Downtown Newark with Congressmen Albio Sires (D-NJ-08) and Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ-10) along with anti-gun violence advocates, members of law enforcement, LGBT activists and community leaders in support of common sense solutions that reduce gun violence.

Both senators participated in last week’s Democratic-led filibuster, which has forced Senate votes today on key measures that would implement universal background checks and close the “terror gap” that allows known or suspected terrorists to legally purchase firearms.

“As our nation grieves from the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, we simply can’t afford to stand idly by as the deadly epidemic of gun violence continues to plague our nation,” said Sen. Booker. “I was proud to stand in solidarity with Senator Menendez, Murphy and our Democratic colleagues on the Senate floor and successfully secure a vote on common sense measure that would address these senseless acts of violence.  It’s now time for my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to step up and take the necessary actions to save lives before another community is torn apart.”

“It shouldn’t take devastating carnage in shooting after shooting, city after city, to make common sense changes to our gun safety laws.  We need more than a vigil and bouquet—we need to find common ground to end gun violence in America,” said Sen. Menendez.  “I am proud to have joined Senator Booker, who stood on the Senate floor for almost 15 hours last Wednesday, and 37 other Democratic Senators to demand that we have votes on rational, reasonable gun legislation.  And tonight, if Republicans will join us, we’ll have the chance to extend background checks and prevent known or suspected terrorists from getting firearms.”

An amendment offered by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) fixes the nation's broken gun background check system and closes loopholes that allow certain gun purchasers to avoid background checks altogether by taking two critical steps. 

First, the amendment would ensure record submission compliance by requiring states and the federal government to send all necessary records on people with felony convictions, drug abusers, the seriously mentally ill, and other dangerous people to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).  

Second, the amendment would expand background checks to cover every gun transaction, with reasonable exceptions, to pass an instant background check. Currently, federal law only requires licensed gun dealers to conduct background checks and, due to this loophole, 40 percent of gun sales do not involve any background check of any kind. This bill would close that loophole by requiring background checks for gun transfers by private sellers, at gun shows, and online, just as licensed dealers are required to conduct gun background checks.

A separate amendment offered by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) calls on the U.S. Department of Justice to check would-be gun buyers against the government's consolidated terror watch list in order to address the "terror gap," the federal loophole whereby U.S. citizens can purchase deadly firearms even if they are under investigation for suspected terrorist activity. The amendment would allow the Justice Department the authority to stop gun sales if the buyer is a known or suspected terror suspect and if the government reasonably believes that the buyer may use the gun in connection with terrorism.

“Like many Americans across the country, I am deeply troubled by the proliferation of gun violence and mass shootings in our country,” said Rep. Sires. “It is time for Congress to enact long-term reforms to prevent deadly weapons from getting into the hands of those wishing to do harm.”

“Gun laws must guarantee the rights and freedoms of all law-abiding Americans. That means keeping guns out of the wrong hands,” said Rep. Payne, Jr. “Yet Republicans continue to put the rights of suspected terrorists above the rights of gun violence victims. Our laws enable suspected terrorists to buy deadly weapons, and individuals to purchase guns online without the scrutiny of a background check. It will take political will and political action to stop these tragedies.”

"Every day, more than 90 Americans are shot and killed and hundreds more are injured and the connecting thread between these tragedies is that it is far too easy for dangerous people to get their hands on guns in our country," said Meghan Adamoli, volunteer chapter leader for the New Jersey chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. "That is why we applaud Senator Booker and Senator Menendez for their leadership and dedication to working to pass background checks on all gun sales, for closing the terror gap, and for keeping our families safe from gun violence."

“The LGBT community and those who stand with us must make it a responsibility, in honor of the lives we lost in Orlando, to ensure that individuals who let hate guide their actions never have access to assault weapons,” said Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality.  “As Americans, we should all be deeply concerned about how easy it is to access certain deadly weapons that put everyone's safety and our nation's security at risk. Anyone who has ever stood against American values or our people should never be able to legally buy or possess firearms.”

“Tragedies like the recent shootings in Orlando clearly demonstrate the need for greater gun safety measures,”said Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. “Our families have a right to feel safe in their homes. Our children have a right to feel safe in our schools. We have a right to feel safe in our communities. Today, I join with Senators Menendez and Booker to help raise awareness about the need for a more common sense approach when it comes to dealing with guns.” 

“We hope that our elected officials in Washington received that horrible message from Orlando.  Certainly our citizens continually have gotten similar messages from other unfortunate events every day,” said Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura. “It’s time that we do the right thing and enact common sense gun safety measures.” 

“Guns on our streets are a constant danger for law enforcement and the public at large,” said NJ State Policemen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Colligan.  “Background checks and the transmission of records on dangerous people to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System are both long overdue steps in helping to ensure the safety of our communities.  We would like to thank Senator Menendez and Senator Booker for their leadership in fighting for these common sense gun safety measures.  This type of leadership is exactly what we need in the everyday battle to keep our streets and communities safe.” 

“The New Jersey State FOP Lodge stands with our U.S. Senators in backing better universal background checks and closing the terror gap in order to prevent terrorists from getting their hands on weapons,” said NJ Fraternal Order of Police President Robert W. Fox.   “No known terrorist that is on any terrorist watch list should be able to purchase a firearm.”