Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Conyers Welcomes President Obama’s Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence

(DETROIT) – On Friday, the Obama Administration announced two executive actions to strengthen the federal firearms background check system. The Department of Justice (DOJ) is issuing a proposed rule to clarify terminology used in prohibiting firearms purchases on the basis of certain mental health reasons. In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is issuing a proposed rule to remove barriers in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that have hindered the ability of states to submit certain information concerning mental health conditions to the background check system. In response to the news, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), Ranking Member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“I welcome the continued progress made on preventing gun violence through President Obama’s executive actions. The new rules proposed by the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services will strengthen the current background check system by enhancing the ability of states to submit critical information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Yet, Congress must take additional steps to prevent access to firearms by those prevented by law from possessing because of serious mental health conditions. We must also do more to provide mental health services to those in need, a goal which President Obama shares and is helping to realize by expanding coverage of mental health services through the Affordable Care Act,” said Conyers.

“Nationally, we are focusing more attention on these issues because of highly-publicized mass shootings, but we must also consider the daily toll of gun violence that afflicts all of our communities.  In one year, on average, over 100,000 Americans are shot in murders, assaults, suicides and suicide attempts, accidents, and police actions.  Approximately 32,000 of these individuals die.  Nearly 12,000 are murdered—more than 32 Americans every day.  These figures are tragic and unacceptable.

“In addition to doing more to address the mental health component of this problem, Congress needs to do its part by passing legislation such as H.R. 1565, the ‘Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act,’ which would expand the background check requirement to firearms sold at gun shows and through commercial advertisements.  While President Obama does his part to ensure the current background check system includes as many of the relevant records as possible, Congress must act to prevent more firearms from getting into the hands of those prohibited from possessing them.”

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