U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, on Thursday unveiled a package of reforms intended to prevent gun violence that calls for banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines, increased penalties for gun trafficking, and instituting background checks for every firearms purchase.
Surrounded by Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives, Thompson announced a 15-point plan — the product of a gun violence task force Thompson’s chaired — that Democrats intend to introduce as legislation.
Largely resembling President Barack Obama’s recommendations, the plan also includes proposals for improving a national database used in background checks, increased funding for law enforcement, providing greater access to mental health treatment, increased school safety measures, gun buy-back programs, and funding research that examines any link between violence depicted in popular culture and gun violence.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, called it a “bold” plan, but some aspects — such as the bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines — will face challenges passing through the Republican-controlled House.
“I think we have to try to have the boldest possible package,” Pelosi said. “There’s a small window here to get something done.”
House Republicans are waiting to see what legislation comes from the Senate, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has said, meaning Thompson’s proposals may take a back seat to other legislation.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., suggested that enough support exists to pass some, but perhaps not all, of the proposals.
“This is a comprehensive package,” Hoyer said. “That does not mean that if parts of it are not adopted, that the rest of it does not make common sense or won’t be helpful in protecting the American public.”
In prefacing the proposals, Thompson said he wanted to affirm his belief in the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans.
“I’m a hunter,” Thompson said. “I’m a gun-owner. I’m not interested in giving up my guns. I’m not interested in asking anyone else to give up their guns.”
On banning assault weapons, Thompson noted that he carried one during the Vietnam War, and said “If I’ve never seen another assault weapon, I’ve seen too many.”
Thompson acknowledged the proposals will face a tough road in Congress, but referenced recent mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., as reasons to support them.
“We know it’s tough,” Thompson said. “We can’t relive what just happened in Newtown. We can’t relive what happened in Aurora.”
The Democratic Issues Conference held its press conference in Leesburg, Va.