WASHINGTON—AFT President Randi Weingarten released the following statement on the introduction of H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019:
“Last year, we mourned students who never returned home from school, congregants who never returned home from church or synagogue, families who never returned home from a concert, and shoppers who never return home from the store—all because of senseless shootings. Firearm deaths in the United States are at a 50-year high: On average, a shooting occurs at a U.S. school every eight days.
“Gun violence is a public health crisis in our country—an epidemic that we have failed to treat at its root because the desires of the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers trump the needs of children, parents, teachers and responsible gun owners, who all agree on the need for commonsense gun safety measures.
“But today—the eighth anniversary of the Tucson, Ariz., shootings in a supermarket parking lot that killed six people and wounded 13 others, including former Rep. Gabby Giffords—Rep. Mike Thompson and his colleagues on the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force have taken the first step toward bringing common sense back to our gun laws. By introducing a universal background check bill that requires a background check for nearly every firearm purchase in the United States, the new House Democratic majority is making clear: We must combat gun violence and stop being terrorized by it.
“Background checks make it harder for guns to wind up in the hands of violent criminals, people with a history of domestic abuse, and other potentially dangerous buyers. Right now, there are far too many loopholes that make it too easy for guns to get into our communities, causing violence in our schools, our places of worship and other public places that should be safe sanctuaries. Gun violence has hardened our social fabric and sowed fear in an entire generation of school-age kids, but today, we join with Democrats and Republicans in Congress who are taking action to stop this crisis. We hope the entire Congress joins them to pass this bill immediately.”