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Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty

Representing the 5th District of Connecticut


Gun Violence Prevention

Since the horrific December 14, 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I’ve worked every day as Vice Chair of the U.S. House Gun Prevention Task Force to advance commonsense reforms to save lives and prevent gun violence.

The 2nd Amendment protects Americans’ right to bear arms. But each of our freedoms requires responsibility. Law-abiding gun owners’ rights don’t extend equally to terrorists, criminals, domestic abusers, or the dangerously mentally ill. That is why I support commonsense gun safety reforms, including:

  • comprehensive background checks for all commercial gun sales or transfers;
  • closing the “terror gap” loophole so that the background check system flags and prohibits individuals on the federal terror watch lists or no-fly lists from buying a gun;
  • preventing sales to domestic abusers;
  • stricter punishments for illegal gun trafficking;
  • ending the congressional ban that prevents the CDC from supporting public health research on gun violence;
  • advancing smart gun technology; and
  • providing law enforcement with the tools they need to keep our communities safe.

We also need to increase funding for mental health services. That’s why I cosponsor the Promoting Healthy Minds for Safer Communities Act, which would introduce mental health and domestic violence legislation aimed at reducing and preventing gun violence.

We can respect the Second Amendment rights of responsible, law-abiding gun owners and save lives. In 2014, I led a successful bipartisan effort in the U.S. House of Representatives to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, proving that we can come together to prevent gun violence.

Nearly 33 Americans are murdered every day with a firearm. No single law will solve this problem. But there are steps we can take to prevent some of this violence and reduce the number of tragedies. We have an obligation to act, which is why I have taken to the House floor several times to urge Congressional leaders to bring gun safety legislation up for a vote.

I am committed to the long road ahead and will not let the “Newtown effect” go away. I will continue to work with law enforcement, the President, members of Congress, and our community leaders to reduce the epidemic of gun violence in this country. For more information concerning my work and views on gun violence prevention, please contact me.

I look forward to hearing from you.

More on Gun Violence Prevention

March 22, 2017 In The News

A bill moving through Congress could make it easier for veterans who can be considered mentally incompetent to carry a firearm and has pitted those concerned with suicide among veterans against others who say they have been unfairly stigmatized.

Under federal law, veterans who have been assigned fiduciaries — people who manage their finances — can be deemed mentally incompetent. Backers of the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act say that the law has been applied too broadly against veterans who remain fit to carry a firearm.

March 17, 2017 In The News

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House passed a bill Thursday that would give veterans — previously unable to purchase firearms because of a mental health diagnosis — access to firearms.

The bill passed by a vote of 240-175.

U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee who led the opposition to the bill, said the legislation ignores the reality of veteran suicide.

March 16, 2017 In The News

WASHINGTON ― The House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday to allow thousands of veterans who are disabled or have mental health conditions to buy guns.

Under a law signed by President George W. Bush in the wake of a mass shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007, federal agencies such as the Veterans Administration were required to add the names of people deemed “mentally defective” to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, to block them from buying weapons.

March 16, 2017 Press Release
Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) today led the floor opposition to H.R. 1181, the Veteran 2nd Amendment Protection Act.
March 15, 2017 In The News

Twelve House Democrats joined their Republican colleagues Thursday in voting in favor of a bill that would require a judge to first rule if veterans are a danger to themselves or others before the Department of Veterans Affairs takes action to prevent them from purchasing firearms. The House approved the Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act, backed by the National Rifle Association, by a 240-175 vote. The legislation will now go to the Senate.

March 15, 2017 In The News

A proposed bill reversing the policy that bars 167,000 “mentally incompetent” veterans from buying weapons came under fire Wednesday just prior to a Congressional vote.

“This not, and will never be, what it means to ‘take care of our veterans,’” said Brady Campaign president Dan Gross. “Twenty American veterans die by suicide every day, and two-thirds use guns.”

Other opponents of the “Veterans Second Amendment Act” had earlier raised similar issues — including 14 ex-military officials who urged lawmakers to reject the change.

March 10, 2017 In The News

U.S. Rep Elizabeth Esty used her new power as the ranking Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Committee to take on the committee chairman this week in a losing fight over a bill about veterans, mental health and guns.

The bill in question would end the practice of classifying a veteran as mentally incompetent if the FBI’s gun background check system showed that he had been assigned a trustee to help manage his personal affairs.

The bill in effect would make it easier for such a veteran to purchase a gun.

March 8, 2017 In The News

The House Intelligence Committee will hold an all-too-rare public hearing March 20 on Trump campaign operatives’ pre-election conversations with Russian government officials.

But if you’re thinking finally we’ll get some answers to this “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma” (as Winston Churchill once famously described Russia), Rep. Jim Himes is advising you not to hold your breath.

March 8, 2017 Press Release
In a House Veterans’ Affairs Committee mark-up today, Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) spoke out against H.R. 1181, the Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act.
March 3, 2017 In The News

Police chiefs from across the state said they were focused on Connecticut laws, but would help federal agents crack down on undocumented immigrants.

The news came out of a closed door meeting with Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty and law enforcement leaders on Friday.