Thank you, Rep. Hayes

Of all the issues our new U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-5) could have chosen as the topic of her first floor speech, background checks on gun buyers is perhaps the most welcome. After all, 97 percent of Americans agree that universal background checks when purchasing a firearm are appropriate and should happen, and it is an issue that holds particular and strong meaning for her constituents. Gun violence in the urban areas of the 5th District is of great concern as well as the memory of the mass school shooting in Newtown in 2012. 

Hayes spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday, Feb. 26, referring to two bills that then passed on Wednesday to move the nation forward on better background checks and accountability for gun buyers: H.R. 8, which mandated background checks for all gun purchases; and H.R. 1112, which closes the “Charleston Loophole” that allowed the sale of a firearm to proceed if a background check was not completed within three business days.

As in a press release from her office in Washington, D.C., Hayes said on the floor, “While mass shootings often dominate headlines, we cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the gun violence happening on a daily basis in cities all over the country, and even my hometown of Waterbury, Connecticut. I’ve lived in a neighborhood where the sound of gunshots in the distance was as normal as hearing church bells, and, as a teacher and a mother, I’ve seen firsthand how the fear of violence affects our children. For far too long, Congress has failed our communities by remaining silent on this issue. America is ready for common sense background check legislation, I owe it to my community, I owe it to my state, I owe it to the people of Newtown, Connecticut.”

Thank you to Rep. Hayes for her support of these bills, which passed the House on Wednesday, Feb. 27, as the Bipartisan Background Checks Act and the Enhanced Background Checks Act. Thanks as well to Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy for his ongoing work to improve gun legislation, including laws on background checks. Murphy introduced the U.S. Senate’s counterpart bill, the Background Checks Expansion Act, which faces greater opposition there with its Republican majority. And of course, President Trump has promised to veto the legislation if it reaches his desk.

But it is a step in the right direction, and exactly what the new House majority should be doing to express the wishes of the American people. This is setting our legislative branch on the right path toward much-needed change in gun legislation and prevention of violence.