Yesterday’s Senate Vote: The Takeaway

Dear Friends,GunsenseVT

It’d be great if the U.S. Senate could act in line with what 90% of Americans want, but yesterday wasn’t the day. At least in Vermont we can be proud that both our Senators voted in favor of universal background checks and the “No Fly, No Buy” bill. Below is a powerful press release about Senator Leahy’s leadership on this issue, as well as a C-Span clip of his remarks yesterday in the Senate chamber. He has heard our voices clearly.

However, the takeaway from yesterday is not that progress is impossible. Instead, it means that the need for action at the state level is even more important. This is the time for us to rally behind our local candidates for state rep who support universal background checks and push back against those who don’t. You can donate your time or donate money to the cause, but choose one and show your commitment to making real progress on this issue.

To donate your time and be part of a volunteer team in support of candidates (with letter writing, helping with mailings, visibility events, or phone calling), click HERE.

To donate money to the GunSenseVT Victory Fund PAC to help support these candidates financially, click HERE.

Together, we will show the senators blocking basic gun reform that their inaction only drives us to take more action. They do NOT have the final say about gun laws in this country.

Thank you!the-u.s.capitol-dome-96
Ann

Ann Braden

President, Gun Sense Vermont

Here is the C-SPAN clip from yesterday in the Senate (Senator Leahy’s remarks start around 23:20).

And here is the press release about Senator Leahy:

One Week After Mass Shooting In Orlando, Leahy Urges Senators To Support Common Sense Legislation To Make Our Communities Safer

. . . On The Senate Floor, Leahy Responds To Vermont Teen’s Heartfelt Letter After The Orlando Massacre

WASHINGTON (Monday, June 20, 2016) – A Vermont teen recently penned an open letter urging Senator Leahy and all Senators to “do something. Something big,” in response to the mass shooting in Orlando that took 49 innocent lives.  The letter was written by a Vermont teenager named Ella Staats, and it appeared in the Vermont Digger as part of the Young Writers Project.

On Monday, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) took to the Senate floor to respond to Ms. Staats and all Americans who are calling on Congress to reform the nation’s gun laws.

“I want you to know that I have been working for years to find practical solutions that will stop the gun violence that continues to touch every corner of our country.  But I bet that the last thing you want is a list of all the bills I have written or voted for but have not passed.  You want to know how we are going to overcome the well-funded opposition to passage of laws that will reduce gun violence,” Leahy said.

Leahy, who last week joined an unscheduled floor discussion led by Senate Democrats to force a debate and votes on gun safety issues, reiterated his call for action hours before the Senate was poised to consider legislation to close loopholes in the background check system and prevent terrorists from obtaining firearms.

“I hope the votes that I cast on your behalf tonight demonstrate that I hear you and I agree that we must act to prevent the next Orlando,” he said.  “Ella, thank you for doing that – for speaking out and for holding us accountable.”

 

In the wake of the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Leahy convened three high profile hearings of the Judiciary Committee on the issue of preventing gun violence.  The committee also reported four common sense bills under Leahy’s leadership including legislation to improve and expand the background check system, ban assault weapons, improve school safety, and combat the practice of straw purchasing and illegal trafficking in firearms.

 

Earlier this year, Leahy reintroduced the bipartisan Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act to make clear that the straw purchasing and trafficking of firearms are federal crimes.  The legislation strengthens ineffective laws exploited by criminals including the San Bernardino shooters to obtain firearms through a straw purchaser.

 

“In the wake of mass gun violence, whether the victims are members of the LGBT community, African American church parishioners, first graders in an elementary school, college students, military service members or others in our community, we are called as Americans to come together in solidarity,” Leahy said.  “We must come together to enact real solutions that will prevent further acts of senseless violence. 

Senator Leahy’s full remarks are available online.

Leahy Introduces BIPARTISAN Bill to Tackle Illegal Guns

Friends,
I have exciting news! Today Senator Leahy introduced a new bill, the Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2016, and it already has strong bipartisan support! Please take a moment to read the press release below and then call Senator Leahy’s office at (202) 224-4242 to thank him for his leadership! (You can also contact Senator Leahy through his website at: https://www.leahy.senate.gov/contact.)

GunsenseVT

Thank Senator Leahy for working to address the problem of illegal firearms. As he says below, “In Vermont and across the country, we have seen firearms serve as currency for illegal drugs.  Addicts are at times directed to straw purchase firearms by dealers who could not pass a background check themselves,” Senator Leahy said.  “It is time to take action – and only Congress can fill the gaps in our laws.  Congress must not become so numb to tragedy after tragedy that we fail to fulfill our responsibility to legislate.”

Let Senator Leahy know that you agree!

Thank you!
Ann

Leahy & Collins Unveil Bipartisan Legislation to Combat Illegal Straw Purchasing and Firearms Trafficking

WASHINGTON (THURSDAY, Feb. 11, 2016) – Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced legislation on Thursday to combat the practice of straw purchasing and illegal trafficking in firearms.

The Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2016 responds to calls from law enforcement officials for more effective tools to investigate and deter straw purchasers and gun traffickers.

Currently, there is no law that explicitly makes straw purchasing a crime, and it is only unlawful to traffic a firearm if the transferor had actual knowledge that the firearm would be used in connection with a crime.  The recent terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California highlighted this gap; the rifles in that shooting were allegedly acquired through a straw purchaser.  Firearms trafficking is also an increasingly significant problem in New England, where the surge in opioid abuse has exposed a “guns for drugs” trade.

The bipartisan bill introduced by Leahy and Collins today would make clear that the straw purchasing and trafficking of firearms are federal crimes.

“In Vermont and across the country, we have seen firearms serve as currency for illegal drugs.  Addicts are at times directed to straw purchase firearms by dealers who could not pass a background check themselves,” Senator Leahy said.  “It is time to take action – and only Congress can fill the gaps in our laws.  Congress must not become so numb to tragedy after tragedy that we fail to fulfill our responsibility to legislate.”

“Our bill would provide law enforcement with an effective tool to fight the violence that too often goes hand in hand with drug trafficking,” said Senator Collins. “Straw purchasing and the trafficking of firearms put guns directly in the hands of drug dealers and violent criminals who smuggle heroin into Maine.”

The bill does not affect lawful purchases from federal firearms licensees, nor does it prohibit the innocent transfer of a firearm as a gift, or in relation to a legitimate raffle, auction or contest.  The measure is supported by numerous law enforcement organizations, including the National Fraternal Order of Police, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the National Tactical Officers Association, the National District Attorneys Association, and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.

A similar version of the Leahy-Collins legislation drew the support of a bipartisan majority of the Senate in 2013.

Text of the Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2016 is available online.  A one-page summary of the bill is also available online. Leahy’s full remarks can be found here.

Stop the Gun Riders!

Friends, GunsenseVT

First of all, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who made it out to our celebration this past weekend. It was fabulous to see everyone, celebrate our accomplishments and look forward to our next steps as a growing and influential grassroots movement for commonsense gun laws in Vermont.While our work has primarily been focused on Vermont-based policies, I am also writing to bring your attention to something that is happening in the US Senate right now.

Recently, the House of Representatives approved their version of their CJS Appropriations Act for FY2016 (H.R. 2578).  In the process, 11 so-called “gun riders” were added to their bill, and today, the Senate Appropriations Committee is taking up this piece of legislation.

If approved, the riders would:

  • Terminate the long gun reporting program which the ATF is using to prevent gun trafficking in those four states bordering Mexico.
  • Prevent the ATF from regulating dangerous armor piercing ammunition.
  • Prevent the ATF from strengthening the regulations on gun trusts so that local law enforcement can determine who in their communities is able to obtain fully automatic machine guns.
  • Reinstate a program ended by Congress over 20 years ago that allows formerly convicted violent felons to obtain dangerous firearms.

These gun-related riders have been added to the House legislation without open debate. Unless the Senate hears from you, these dangerous provisions will make it into the final version of the law, threatening community safety, here and around the country. We need to make it easier, not harder, for the ATF to do its job!

Our colleagues at the Center for American Progress and the States United to Prevent Gun Violence have made it easy for GunSenseVT supporters to speak up on this issue — particularly since Senator Leahy is a key member on the Appropriations Committee that is considering this bill. Simply contact Senator Leahy using this form and ask him NOT to include these bad gun riders in their CJS bill. These riders will only benefit criminals while tying the hands of law enforcement trying to reduce gun violence.

Thanks for taking a minute to speak out on this important subject. I hope you are enjoying this beautiful early summer weather!

Ann

GunSenseVT · PO Box 2533, Brattleboro, VT 05303, United States