NEW YORK (AP / WCBS 880) – U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said Wednesday he will propose legislation requiring all gun buyers to undergo a background check and broadly increasing penalties against states that don’t contribute names to the national background-check system.
The bill, which is still being drafted and doesn’t yet have any co-sponsors in the Republican-controlled House, was modeled after the proposals of Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s national gun-control coalition, said Schumer, a Democrat.
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“All we’re talking about here is making sure that certain individuals who demonstrated violent behavior in the past, who have documented mental illness, who could be inclined to terrorism, or who have a history of drug abuse, don’t get a weapon,” Schumer said.
Schumer and Bloomberg, a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent, appeared together at Manhattan police headquarters to announce the legislation, which would close the so-called gun-show loophole by requiring even private sellers to perform background checks. Currently, buyers who are prohibited by law from buying a firearm because of a felony conviction or drug addiction can still purchase guns from many gun-show stands with few questions asked.
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The bill would also increase and make mandatory financial consequences against states that don’t comply with the background check system. States that currently can be penalized up to 3 percent of federal justice grants would have to meet higher standards or lose 25 percent of the funds by 2018.
Last week, an Associated Press review found that more than half the states are not complying with a law requiring them to share the names of mentally ill people with the national background-check system.
Rachel Parsons, a spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association, said she couldn’t comment on legislation that she hasn’t seen, but she did accuse Bloomberg of using the issue to draw the spotlight to himself.
He “grandstands in front of the media instead of doing what he was hired to do, which is enforcing the laws and making sure that criminals that commit crimes with firearms go to jail,” she said.
“Individual responsibility is a cornerstone of our law and those who cannot responsibly own a gun shouldn’t have access to a gun its that simple,” said Schumer.
Schumer says he isn’t trying to expand the law of who should and should not have a gun, just to enforce the law that already exists.
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