Reflecting on National Gun Violence Awareness Month

Dear friend,

Every year, over 40,000 Americans tragically lose their lives to gun violence. Unfortunately, too many in Delaware know the pain of losing a loved one to this epidemic. This National Gun Violence Awareness Month, I’d like to share some of the progress we have made and the work that remains to be done to protect our communities across the nation.

In the two years since President Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act into law, which included provisions I authored to specifically address our concerns in the First State, we have seen the positive effects of this legislation. With enhanced background checks on people under the age of 21 and increased penalties for illegal gun traffickers, there has been a 52% increase in prosecutions of people selling guns without a license or without conducting background checks.

We are also working at the local level to curb gun violence, and together with local and federal leaders, we have prioritized enacting gun safety measures. The Delaware congressional delegation and I secured over $1 million through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to implement red flag laws in the First State and ensure that dangerous individuals do not cause more harm in our communities. In recent years, Governor Carney has signed several bills to strengthen Delaware’s gun safety laws.

All of these efforts mark more legislative progress than we’ve seen on this issue at the federal level in the last three decades. But the epidemic is far from over, and we must continue to further implement common-sense legislation. A good first step is reinstating the federal Assault Weapons Ban, which prevented mass shootings and saved countless lives during the ten-year period it was law. However, it expired in 2004 and 85% of public mass shooting fatalities in the years since have involved one of these weapons of war. We must listen to the evidence, and that’s why I’ve consistently supported renewing the Assault Weapons Ban to ensure that these military-style rifles are taken off our streets.

Moreover, each year there are thousands of gun shows across our country that enable people to purchase a firearm, no questions asked. I am grateful that the Biden Administration has recently taken executive action to close this “gun show loophole,” but more than 22% of American gun owners are in possession of a firearm without ever passing a background check. Congress must  step up and close these dangerous gaps in our background check system.

The vast majority of Americans support reforming our nation’s gun laws, and we must prevent firearms from continuing to inflict harm on our communities. We can work together to make our country safer for our children and grandchildren, and with strong, thoughtful, common-sense action, we can put an end to gun violence.

God Bless,

Tom Carper