In letters to the participants on the eve of our November 20 conference on Domestic Violence, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth state their positions:
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin:
Earlier this year, a mass shooting in Aurora, Illinois claimed the lives of five people at the Henry Pratt Company and injured six police officers who rushed to the scene to help. The tragedy once again confirmed the exceptional bravery of our state’s police officers and first responders. But it also confirmed the existence of dangerous gaps within our federal background check system and firearms surrender process that enabled a person who was the subject of two domestic violence related charges and a violent felony conviction to purchase, and neglect to surrender, the firearm used in the attack. Just the year prior, we experienced yet another mass shooting illustrating the connection between gun violence and domestic violence, when a man opened fire at Mercy Hospital in Chicago, killing his ex-fiance, Dr. Tamara O’Neal, a pharmacy resident, and a police officer at the scene. Many more of these types of attacks have been occurring in our community but do not make national headlines. Each tragedy further underscores the urgent need to take action on this issue and address the epidemic of both gun violence and domestic violence in the United States.
As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I have pushed for enhanced protections for survivors of domestic violence and commonsense gun safety reforms that respect the rights of law-abiding gun owners but keep guns out of the hands of those with criminal records and those with serious mental illness. In January, I joined Senator Duckworth and over three dozen other colleagues in reintroducing the Background Check Expansion Act (S. 42) to expand federal background checks to all gun sales. Last year, my office and 10 of the largest hospitals serving Chicago launched the HEAL Initiative, which is a collaboration aiming to reduce violence and improve health in Chicago’s most underserved neighborhoods. Earlier this year, I joined U.S. Representative Danny Davis (D-IL-07) in introducing the RISE from Trauma Act, bipartisan legislation to increase support for children who have been exposed to Adverse Childhood Experiences and trauma, such as witnessing violence, parental addiction, or abuse. Finally, at least two important pieces of legislation are currently awaiting our consideration in the Senate after passing the House of Representatives earlier this year: the Bipartisan Background Checks Act (H.R.8) and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (H.R. 1585). Senator Feinstein recently introduced the Senate companion to the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization, and I was proud to join her as an original cosponsor. I will continue to work on these bills and other legislation that moves our country closer to ending the epidemic of gun violence and domestic violence. Read the full letter here.
U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth:
Considering our nation’s rise in gun violence, I support common-sense legislation like universal background checks, closing the gun show loophole, cracking down on gun trafficking and straw purchasers, banning assault-style weapons, limiting high-capacity magazines and bump stocks sales and preventing individuals on the terrorist watch-list from purchasing weapons legally. Thus, I am proud to have helped reintroduce the Background Check Expansion Act (S. 42) and the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019 (S. 66), which both aim to prevent senseless gun violence and promote safety in our communities. I also support the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of2019 (H.R. 1585), which would reauthorize programs and services for survivors and ban intimate partners with abuse or stalking criminal convictions from purchasing a firearm. Read the full letter here.