Earlier this week, I held a roundtable in Annapolis with community leaders, law enforcement representatives and public health experts to discuss the issue of gun safety.
This topic hits close to home for far too many Americans, including us Marylanders. Last summer, a gunman murdered five journalists at The Capital Gazette office building, just five minutes from where we held our roundtable discussion. While this tragic shooting rightfully captured significant attention, the epidemic of gun violence in our country is not limited to high-profile mass shootings; it’s something that affects communities in Maryland and across the country on a daily basis — approximately 100 Americans are killed by guns every single day.
In Maryland, the City of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County are taking important steps to track and study gun violence — and recommend solutions to help tackle the crisis.
In the U.S. House of Representatives, my colleagues and I are also taking meaningful action to improve gun safety. The House recently passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act (H.R. 8), a bill to strengthen America’s background check system for gun purchases.
H.R. 8 marks the first time in a long time that Congress finally passed a bill to address the issue of gun violence — an issue that has been ignored in Washington for far too long. But H.R. 8 is only a first step. Closing loopholes in our nation’s background check system is a commonsense policy, but it’s not a panacea. We must take additional steps to reduce gun violence in America, which is why I’ve supported a number of solutions that have been, or will be, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. This includes:
- Restoring the assault weapon ban;
- Prohibiting high-capacity magazines;
- Authorizing gun violence research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and
- Raising the buying age for semiautomatic rifles to 21.
These are just a handful of options for responding to the gun violence crisis. They exemplify the kinds of commonsense, lifesaving reforms that are supported by large majorities of Americans.
I should also note that the House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act, a bill I authored to end the dominance of money in our politics, ensure clean and fair elections, strengthen voting rights and clean up corruption in Washington. We know that big money and special interests, like the NRA, set the agenda in Washington and block progress on issues like gun safety. But with H.R. 1, we can take a bold step to reduce the corrosive influence of special interests like the NRA and return to government of, by and for the people.
While there’s lots of attention on national gun safety efforts — and rightly so — states like Maryland, counties like Anne Arundel and cities like Annapolis are also spearheading important research and initiatives to curb gun violence. I learned an incredible amount of information from the diverse array of stakeholders that gathered at this week’s gun safety roundtable.
Armed with these new ideas, perspectives and solutions, I look forward to returning to Washington to continue working with my colleagues — on both sides of aisle — to take additional steps to reduce gun violence and save lives in Maryland and across America.
John P. Sarbanes
Maryland’s Third Congressional District