As Murder Climbs, Velázquez Introduces Legislation to Curb Gun Violence

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As both murders and shooting incidents have shot up in Brooklyn thus far this year, U.S. Rep Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan) is looking to curb gun violence with a package of federal legislation aimed at stopping the illegal flow of firearms to city streets.

The bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, H.R. 8, would close the background check loophole and require a background check for every gun sale or transfer, to ensure that individuals already prohibited from gun possession under federal law are not able to obtain firearms.

The plan includes some reasonable and explicit exceptions that, for example, allow a person: to give a gun as a gift to a close family member; loan a gun for hunting or target shooting; or provide a gun in the moment of self-defense.

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez

“House Democrats are moving forward proactively to address the plague of gun violence that has ravaged all our communities. This is an enormous problem that will require a multi-pronged approach, but the two bills passed this week constitute a meaningful stride forward that will save lives,” Velazquez said.

A second bill, which the House already passed, would close the so-called “Charleston Loophole.” That loophole currently allows dealers to sell a firearm to dangerous individuals if the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) background check has not been completed within three business days.  

The measure extends the initial background check from three to ten business days; if the initial review is not completed at that point, dealers must request an escalated review by the FBI that would run for another ten days.

“All of us have been horrified by mass shootings at Parkland, Las Vegas and elsewhere, but mass shootings are not the only horrific effects from unregulated firearms flowing onto our streets,” added Velazquez.  

In addition, the Congresswoman announced her own measure to reduce the flow of firearms into New York City.

Velázquez’s legislation would strengthen reporting requirements for gun owners to report if a firearm goes missing or face fines or jail time. The legislation would also employ technology to assist law enforcement in tracing the origin of weapons used in crimes.

“Americans overwhelmingly support these common sense steps to keep guns away from those who should not have them, and I was proud to join my colleagues in passing them,” Velázquez added. “I call on my Senate colleagues to quickly act on these bills.”

The legislation comes as both murders and shooting incidents have risen dramatically so far in 2019.

This includes two separate deadly shootings this past week. On Friday, Feb. 22,  Samuel Joseph, 15, was shot in the head and torso in front of his apartment building on Flatbush Avenue at around 5:45 p.m., police said. He was later taken to Kings County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

In the other shooting, police were responding to a report of a person being assaulted in front of a building on East 94th Street in Canarsie around 5 p.m. when they learned a 23-year-old man had been shot in the torso and arm, the NYPD said. The man was taken to Brookdale Hospital privately, and was pronounced dead, according to News 4 New York.

According to the New York Police Department (NYPD) Crime Statistics, reported murders in Brooklyn are up 300% so far this year with 24 reported killings in 2019 as compared to eight at this time in 2018. 

So far in 2019, there has been 31 reported shooting incidents, with 26 victims, as compared to 24 shooting victims and 18 shooting victims at this time in 2018.

“In my district, in New York, we frequently hear about our young people dying or suffering life altering injuries from gun violence. My bill would help stem the flow of illegal firearms into New York City, preventing tragedies like these,” said Velazquez.

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