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AFT supports improved background checks for gun purchases

The AFT is urging members of the U.S. House of Representatives to approve a commonsense measure toward improved gun safety by supporting an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2015.

AFT President Randi Weingarten sent a letter to representatives on May 29 urging them to vote in support of the Thompson-King-Esty-Heck-Fitzpatrick-Quigley amendment to H.R. 4660, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2015. The amendment would increase funding for the NICS Act Record Improvement Program (NARIP) by $19.5 million.

"Much needs to be done to address gun violence, particularly as it intersects with violence against women and students," Weingarten writes, "but the Thompson-King-Esty-Heck-Fitzpatrick-Quigley amendment is a commonsense step that should be taken immediately."

NARIP grants support states in their efforts to include records of prohibited firearm purchasers in the National Instant Criminal Background Checks System. In FY 2014, Congress appropriated $58.5 million for this program, which did not meet the level of assistance requested by states; of the more than $78 million in NARIP grant requests in FY 2014, 25 percent were denied due to this funding shortfall.

"The recent mass murders in Santa Barbara/Isla Vista, Newtown and Virginia Tech have shaken my members as human beings and as educators," Weingarten says. "The AFT strongly supports an improved background check system, as well as other means of reducing gun violence. I ask that you vote for this straightforward bipartisan amendment that supports states' efforts to keep our children and communities safe."

May 29, 2014