Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry Urges Federal Action on Universal Background Checks, Calls for Legislature’s Support for Congressman Mike Thompson’s H.R. 8

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) has introduced Assembly Joint Resolution 4 with coauthors Senators Bill Dodd (D-Napa) and Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg), and Assemblymembers Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa), Marc Levine (D-Marin), and Tim Grayson (D-Concord). This bill puts California’s Legislature on record demanding U.S. Congressional passage of, and a Presidential signature on House Resolution 8, the “Bipartisan Background Checks Act.

Introduced by Congressman Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena), who also serves as the Gun Violence Task Force Chairman, H.R. 8 requires uniform and universal background checks on all gun purchases and transfers. The law would obligate unlicensed gun sellers to perform background checks on gun purchasers and transferees by requiring them to utilize licensed dealers to sell and transfer firearms. This would include a carefully formulated definition that details the exception of guns purchased in the context of gifts to family members, hunting, target shooting, and self-defense. 

“I will do everything I can to help support Congressman Thompson’s efforts.  As a state legislator, a joint resolution is the formal way for California’s Legislature to demand federal action, and that is why I introduced AJR 4,” said Aguiar-Curry.  “Horrific violence by sick people has become a daily event in our society, and I simply cannot understand why Congress has not acted to pass such a measure which closes the avenue by which criminals and the mentally ill can bypass checks on their ability to obtain weapons, especially ones meant for no other purpose than to kill people.  I applaud the Congressman’s leadership.

Current federal law includes a loophole that allows unlicensed firearm dealers to sell at gun shows, online, and in person without performing background checks on purchasers. This is a significant omission, as gun offenders overwhelmingly obtain their guns without a background check through private sales. With the enactment of H.R. 8, newly established safeguards would require “all firearms purchases to use the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.”  Additionally, H.R. 8 would protect against the possibility of buyers bypassing the requirement of background checks by employing the excuse that they are “borrowing the gun for an open-ended amount of time.”

Congressman Mike Thompson commented on the introduction of AJR 4, “Background checks help save lives right away and the vast majority of Americans support expanding them to keep our communities safe. That’s why I introduced H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 to take action right away to help prevent gun violence. I am honored to have the support of our local legislators, led by Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry, and look forward to working with them as we continue our fight to help prevent gun violence.

The bipartisan group of federal coauthors to this federal legislation shows that confronting gun violence and protecting our communities is important to both sides of the political aisle. Legislators from across the United States agree that enacting a comprehensive background check requirement is a critical component of reasonable and effective gun safety laws. While there is no one law that can put an end to mass shootings or gun violence, when background checks are used they help keep guns out of the hands of people we agree should not have them.

By passing AJR 4, California as a state will join in formal support of H.R. 8 becoming law. The California legislative coauthors to AJR 4 also commented in support of the bill upon introduction:

“Universal background checks are an absolute must in this era of unacceptable gun violence,” Senator Bill Dodd said. “There is no reason to allow someone who may be intent on doing harm to bypass this critical screening. As a longtime hunter, I wholeheartedly support Congressman Thompson’s much-needed measure.”

“Congressman Thompson has been relentless in his leadership on common sense gun reform. America will be a safer country because of his efforts to establish comprehensive background checks,” Senator Mike McGuire said. “California stands firmly behind this bipartisan legislation that will save lives from senseless gun violence.”

“Increasing gun violence, especially by those with known mental health issues, needs our immediate action,” said Assemblymember Jim Wood. “And it needs to happen at the federal level. I’m proud to co-author this resolution to support the requirement that unlicensed gun sellers take responsibility for who is buying their guns by facilitating sales through a licensed gun seller,” added Wood.

“California has led the nation in passing common-sense laws to protect our children and loved ones from gun violence, and I think it is far past time for Congress to join us in this fight,” said Assemblymember Tim Grayson. “I want to thank Congressman Thompson for his dedication to the issue and urge my colleagues to join me in supporting his efforts to make our communities safer.”

Assemblymember Marc Levine declared, “This resolution highlights a dangerous loophole in federal law regarding background checks for gun purchases and transfers and the pressing need to close that loophole with the swift passage of H.R. 8. I urge all my colleagues to support this bipartisan effort.”

“This is not about keeping guns away from law-abiding people, hunters, recreational shooters, or people seeking to defend their homes, businesses, and properties,” said Aguiar-Curry. “Any attempt to characterize this as an assault on the 2nd Amendment is aiding and abetting criminals’ unchecked access to firearms being used on our nation’s innocent bystanders and children.”

AJR 4 has been introduced and is pending referral to its first Assembly policy committee for a hearing.