WASHINGTON – Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), who opposed the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act that passed the House, questioned how many photos of “dead people” she has to show on the House floor to get the GOP-led Congress to pass gun-control measures.
The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which allows a “qualified individual to carry a concealed handgun into or possess a concealed handgun in another state that allows individuals to carry concealed firearms,” passed the House earlier this month 231-198, with 14 Republicans voting against the bill and six Democrats voting in favor.
“How can you suffer 20 children being slaughtered? How can you suffer nine religious members praying being killed, or young people enjoying a nightclub being killed, or those celebrating country music? It is not a respecter of your party affiliation, the music you like, your lifestyle, your faith or anything else. I’ll never get over Sandy Hook or Mother Emanuel Church that I went to and sat down. So what do we have here today? We have a bill that they would not even accept my amendments about domestic violence and stalking,” Jackson Lee told PJM after a recent gun control rally with other lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
“They won’t accept my amendment that if you were convicted of that, if you were convicted of a hate crime, they would not accept that amendment as well. I mean, do we really realize that there are 12 states that have no rules; you can just have open carry? That means that person out of those 12 states can go anywhere else and create havoc, not only on innocent victims but law enforcement officers who are the first ones that have to stop them on the streets,” she added.
Referring to the House bill as “dangerous,” Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said no state should be “forced” to accept concealed carry permits from other states.
“This bill will overrule every state law and it will say that whatever the state law in your state says, anyone can come in with a concealed weapon as long as the state law in his or her state permits it,” he said during the news conference. “No state should have this forced on them. It’s outrageous that House Republicans present this terrible bill as their answer to our national problem and our national disgrace of gun violence.”
Nadler rejected the notion that mental illness has been a key cause of mass shootings that have taken place in the United States.
“I don’t think Americans are thousands of times more mentally ill than people in Great Britain or Japan or Germany which suffer deaths in two figures or three figures – 72, 132, not 33,000,” he said.
Jackson Lee said the Second Amendment should not be “unregulated.”
“So where’s the gun safety sense but where is the humble acknowledgement that people die? So Democrats are not in any fight about guns. The Second Amendment is well confirmed. We’re in a fight about gun safety legislation – reasonable, protected by the Supreme Court that said that you do not have to have a Second Amendment that is unfettered or unregulated. So I’m pretty darn mad about this. I’m hot. I’m getting ready to go to the floor of the House,” she told PJM before the final vote on the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act in the House.
“I don’t know how many pictures I have to show of dead people for us to realize, or wounded people or children or disproportionate numbers in various neighborhoods that are victims of gun violence, even though it’s all over the nation,” she added. “But we know Chicago, that nobody mentions, suffers from gun violence. So I’m a little tiffed here. When is it going to happen? But I’ll just finish by saying we have hope.”
Jackson supports a return of assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004, as well as a law that would require universal background checks on all gun sales. Some perpetrators of mass shootings, such as Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock, passed federal background checks in order to purchase firearms. Jackson Lee was asked for her response to those who point to cases such as the Oct. 1 Las Vegas shooting to argue that universal background checks would not prevent every gun-related tragedy.
“One, how often are we reviewing individuals that carry out gun crimes? Two, the weapons, assault weapons, that certainly should be considered for a ban or the bump stocks that even after Las Vegas, they couldn’t even put a bill in to ban the utilization of bump stocks. So we have to look at not taking away guns, but being sensible. And then universal background checks will help. There will be individuals who have passed a gun check and have the guns,” she replied.
“The perpetrator in Charleston, South Carolina, never passed it because the gun store owner decided it was taking too long and they sold him the guns without fulfilling checking his background, so stringent laws on how you are not able to waive the gun check,” she added of church shooter Dylann Roof. “And I think when you begin to make those kinds of steps, you begin to see the diminishing of violence. Yes, there will be some who pass a background check but there will be others that we will catch and save lives. If I can save one life, there is hope.”
Jackson Lee called on the GOP to “get over the semantics and think about the death and the pillage and the loss of life” from gun violence.
“We’re really pushing for gun safety, sensible gun-safety legislation. I’ve been doing this proceeding my time coming to the United States Congress. As a member of the Houston City Council, I introduced the first gun bill that had ever been passed by the Houston City Council dealing with children and guns and parents not taking responsibility for that when we’re losing so many children taking guns from underneath the mattress and shooting themselves,” the congresswoman said.
“Right now we are saying that we are the civilized nation that has the highest number of gun deaths, the highest number of guns, “ she added. “We have had mass killings that are so brutal you cannot imagine that there would not be sensible gun-safety legislation.”
Under the Obama administration, the FBI changed its definition of a “fugitive from justice,” which resulted in the removal of thousands of names from their background check database, according to a recent report from the Washington Post. The change was implemented under the Trump administration. Jackson Lee reacted to the decision.
“That is a report that I’m going to be checking on and obviously I am very concerned about the fact that these persons are missing and can’t be found,” she said. “Obviously, under the justice system, some of those individuals may have the right to petition or press the case about their status. Well, let them come forward and press the case – but don’t just release them where they cannot be checked in systems that invite the NICS.”