Durbin: Congress Must Stand Up to Gun Sales Lobby & Act to Prevent the Next Mass Shooting

CHICAGO – In the wake of the tragic mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today joined local gun safety advocates to call on Congress to act on common sense gun reforms and stop turning a blind eye to the deadly toll of gun violence in our schools and neighborhoods. The only vote the U.S. Senate has held this Congress on guns has been to overturn a regulation to keep guns out of the hands of individuals with mental illness.


“There is no single reform that could stop every shooting, but we know there are big gaps in our gun laws that make it easy for criminals, abusers, and mentally unstable people to get their hands on guns - even military-style assault weapons with bump stocks,” Durbin said. “Over the past week, we have seen high school students from Stoneman Douglas High in Florida speak out and organize to hold their elected leaders accountable on the issue of gun violence. They are joining with advocates here in Chicago and around the country to help push for common sense reforms.  Their activism is heartfelt and it is powerful.  I hope the Republicans who control Congress and the White House will listen.”


Durbin was joined today by Patrick Korellis, who survived the school shooting at Northern Illinois University ten years ago; a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, who is currently enrolled in law school in Chicago; and officials from Hadiya’s Promise—a foundation honoring the legacy of Hadiya Pendleton and helping to steer other youth away from the path of violence—and the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence.


There are several steps Congress should take to reduce the epidemic of gun violence:


  • Ban bump stocks and assault weapons. After the gunman in Las Vegas used assault rifles with bump stocks to kill 58 and wound hundreds in October, Durbin and a number of Democratic Senators introduced the Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act, a bill to close a loophole that allows semi-automatic weapons to be easily modified to fire at the rate of automatic weapons, which have been illegal for decades. Durbin is also a co-sponsor of legislation that would ban military-style semi-automatic weapons and high capacity magazines of more than 10 rounds. 


  • Fix the Social Security NICS rule. In the first month of the Trump Administration, Congress passed and President Trump signed a law revoking an Obama-era initiative that prevented certain people suffering from mental illness to purchase firearms. Congress and Trump should correct the mistake and urge the Social Security Administration to issue a new regulation to submit mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.


  • Close gaps in the background check system. Congress still has not closed the gun show loophole that the 1999 Columbine shooters used to buy their guns without background checks, or the 72 hour loophole that allowed the sale of the firearm used in the deadly attack at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015. In the most recent polling, 97 percent of Americans support universal background checks.


  • Reduce straw purchasing and gun thefts. Last year Durbin reintroduced the bipartisan Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act, which responds to calls from law enforcement officials for more effective tools to investigate and deter straw purchasers and gun traffickers. Current federal law does not specifically prohibit straw purchasing or gun trafficking, meaning prosecutors have to use other laws, typically paperwork violations, to federally charge traffickers and straw purchasers. Durbin has also introduced a bill to reduce gun thefts by requiring gun dealers to secure their guns in safes or locked to a metal bar after business hours. 


  • Treat gun violence like the public health crisis it is. Since 1996, a nonsensical provision in law has prohibited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from studying the epidemic of gun violence in America. The ban was prompted by the gun lobby after concerns that such research was demonstrating risks of firearms ownership. Durbin has cosponsored legislation to fund CDC gun research.