April 10, 2013

Senators Manchin and Toomey Introduce Criminal and Mental Background Checks Bill

Legislation protects Americans’ Second Amendment rights

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) today introduced the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act to prevent convicted criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from purchasing guns, while not infringing on law-abiding gun owners’ Second Amendment rights. These commonsense measures expand existing background checks to gun shows and online sales – a loophole easily exploited by criminals and the mentally insane who have inflicted unimaginable violence on our society.

The bill explicitly bans the federal government from creating a registry and creates a new penalty for misusing records to create a registry – a felony punishable by 15 years in prison. The bill also protects veterans’ rights by offering an appeals process before veterans lose their rights to bear arms. Finally, the bill creates a commission of non-elected experts in their fields who will study the causes of mass violence in the United States, looking at all aspects of the problem, including mental health, guns, school safety and portrayals of violence in the media. This broad approach is absolutely necessary to truly address our culture of mass violence. 

“While the unspeakable tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut has elevated the gun safety conversation, we cannot sacrifice our Constitutional rights out of fear. It is our obligation to keep our children safe and to protect our Second Amendment rights – and I truly believe we can and must do both,” Senator Manchin said.

“As I have said from the beginning, this is not simply a gun issue. We need to keep guns out of the hands of convicted criminals and the mentally ill while also bringing together a group of experts to look at all aspects of our culture of mass violence.

“Violence destroys the dignity, hopes and lives of millions of Americans. We have a unique opportunity to stop this epidemic here and now – but only if we can put politics aside and take a look at all aspects of our culture of mass violence.

“Our words will offer little comfort to the victims of mass violence everywhere, especially in the wake of the Newtown tragedy. It is only through our actions that these families and communities across America may find solace.”

The Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act will not:

• The bill will not, in any way, shape, or form infringe upon anyone’s Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms.
• The bill will not take away anyone’s guns.
• The bill will not ban any type of firearm.
• The bill will not ban or restrict the use of any kind of bullet or any size clip or magazine.
• The bill will not create a national registry; in fact, it explicitly prohibits it.