December 21, 2022

Senator Warren, Representative Johnson Reintroduce the Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act, Comprehensive Legislation to Help End Gun Violence in America

Sweeping Bill Implements a Series of Common-Sense Reforms to Address Deadly Crisis

Bill Text (PDF) - Bill Summary (PDF)

Washington, DC – Today, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Representative Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) reintroduced the Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act, legislation to help end gun violence in America. This comprehensive bill takes bold and robust measures including creating a federal gun licensing system, strengthening background checks, banning military-style assault weapons and other lethal accessories, holding the gun industry accountable for wrongdoing, and investing in research and community-based gun violence prevention. This legislation is cosponsored by Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), as well as Representatives Jake Auchincloss (D-Mass.), André Carson (D-Ind.), Bill Keating (D-Mass.) Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), James P. McGovern (D-Mass.), Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), and David Trone (D-Md.). 

Every day – in homes and on sidewalks, in schools and supermarkets, in places of worship and workplaces – Americans are killed or injured by gun violence. 2021 data from the CDC indicates that 48,832 lives were lost to gun violence, an 8 percent increase from 2020 – the previous record high. According to Giffords, on average more than 110 Americans die from gun violence everyday. Furthermore, of any comparable nation, the United States has the weakest gun laws and the most guns, 393 million. 

"This year, Congress took steps to help address gun violence in America, but we still have a lot of work to do to pass stronger gun violence prevention laws. That is why I’m reintroducing this legislation which confronts this crisis head-on by building upon various proposals introduced by my colleagues in Congress and takes big steps to help protect our children and make communities safe,” said Senator Warren. 

“I commend Sen. Warren for taking comprehensive action to address the scourge of gun violence in our nation, and I’m proud to reintroduce its companion in the House,” said Rep. Johnson, a senior member of the Judiciary Committee. “This is a bold, multi-faceted approach to gun violence that includes policy but also funding for research, intervention, and prevention measures. We are facing an epidemic of gun violence across America, where our constituents confront the constant threat of gun violence at work, at school, at our houses of worship – everywhere. The time has come for Congress to champion ambitious legislation to address this plague of gun violence.”

The Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act specifically would: 

  • Create a federal gun licensing system and require a federal or state-issued firearms license to purchase or own a gun, and establish a grant program to help states set up their own systems.
  • Require universal background checks, close legal loopholes that allow individuals to skirt background check requirements, and require background check denials to be reported to law enforcement.
  • Keep guns out of the wrong hands by banning individuals who present safety risks from buying guns, establishing Extreme Risk Protection Order systems, and cracking down on gun theft.
  • Ensure that guns are used and stored responsibly by raising the minimum age for all gun or ammunition purchases to 21, establishing a 7-day waiting period for the purchase of all guns, strengthening gun storage laws, and banning guns on all school campuses.
  • Keep weapons of war off our streets by banning military-style assault weapons, lethal gun accessories, and untraceable and undetectable firearms.
  • Crack down on gun trafficking by banning bulk gun purchases and establishing a new law to specifically ban straw purchasing.
  • Improve oversight of gun dealers by strengthening ATF's authority to inspect gun shops, enhancing record-keeping requirements for gun dealers, and repealing harmful appropriations riders that limit law enforcement's ability to trace guns that are used in crimes and hold gun dealers accountable when they break the law.
  • Hold the gun industry accountable by clarifying that gun manufacturers can be held liable for civil penalties for the harms their guns cause, authorizing the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to address safety defects in firearms and firearm accessories, and raising the excise tax on gun sales to 30% and ammunition sales to 50%.
  • Invest in research and community-based gun violence prevention by providing $120 million in annual funding for federal research into gun violence and creating a new grant program to provide $100 million per year for gun violence intervention programs.

Democrats have been leading the fight to pass common-sense legislation to end gun violence and save lives. The Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act incorporates a number of bills led by other senators, including Senator Richard Blumenthal's (D-Conn.) Background Check Completion Act, Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, Untraceable Firearms Act, Ethan's Law, Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act, and Safe Gun Storage Act; Senator Chris Coons' (D-Del.) NICS Denial Notification Act of 2021; Senator Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) Assault Weapons Ban of 2021 and Extreme Risk Protection Order Act; Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's (D-N.Y.) Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking and Crime Prevention Act; Senator Amy Klobuchar's (D-Minn.) Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act; Senator Markey's MASS Act and Gun Violence Prevention Research Act, with inspection-related provisions based on the Keeping Gun Dealers Honest Act; Senator Menendez's Help Empower Americans to Respond Act and Keep Americans Safe Act; Senator Chris Murphy's (D-Conn.) Background Check Expansion Act; and provisions inspired by Senator Booker's Break the Cycle of Violence Act.

The legislation is endorsed by the Amnesty International, USA, Boston Medical Center, Esperanza United, Futures Without Violence, Giffords, Guns Down America, Jewish Women International, Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, March for Our Lives, Massachusetts Medical Society, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Council of Jewish Women, Newtown Action Alliance, States United to Prevent Gun Violence, and Stop Handgun Violence.

I applaud the leadership of Senator Warren and Representative Hank Johnson, to re-introduce this critical legislation to combat gun violence in this country,” said Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. “The time is now for Congress and other fellow elected leaders to do everything within our power to keep our communities safe and healthy.”

“While Massachusetts has among the strongest gun violence prevention laws in the country, gun violence remains a rapidly growing public health issue in the Commonwealth and in the U.S as a whole," said State Senator Jamie Eldridge, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. “Thank you to Senator Warren for pushing forth this comprehensive set of reforms in the Gun Violence and Community Safety Act to keep guns in fewer hands, out of the wrong hands, and to keep our communities safe.” 

"I am pleased to see that Senator Warren is bringing the example of Massachusetts to the rest of the nation,” said Massachusetts State Representative Michael Day (D-Stoneham), House Chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. "While we in Massachusetts work to continue to improve our safeguards, we look forward to the rest of the country joining us."

“Gun violence is a daily occurrence. We, as a state and our country as a whole, need to step up and act with the urgency that this demands. One appropriate legislation on the handling and control of guns would provide a more significant reduction in violence in public and private places. We need proven policy solutions that will mitigate the likelihood of future shootings, which will ensure the reinforcement of public safety and quality of life,” said Lawrence Mayor Brian DePeña.

"As a mayor, nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of the members of the community I serve. We have seen, far too often and far too terribly, the toll that gun violence is taking on our neighborhoods, our families, and our children. I applaud Senator Warren for again introducing the Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act, and I hope that other leaders in Washington will stand up for this essential public safety measure. Sensible limits on deadly weapons can only make our streets, our schools, our parks, and our workplaces that much safer,” said Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll.

“Legislation like the Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act are necessary for ensuring that safety and protection remain at the forefront of our communities,” said Lynn Mayor Jared Nicholson. “We must continue to work together to reduce the risks related to negligent gun regulations through prioritizing a culture of sensible gun laws and safety.”

“Gun violence is the single greatest public health threat that our country faces, and it needs to be addressed on every level of government. Suicide by gun accounts for two-thirds of firearm deaths nationwide,” said Worcester Mayor Joseph M. Petty.  “I want to thank Senator Warren for continuing to push for common sense gun laws in Washington D.C.” 

"With tragedy after tragedy, we learn the same lesson--we have to deliver on gun violence prevention as a country. This legislation increases accountability and oversight to keep guns out of the wrong hands and invests in research and programs to prevent community-based gun violence. I want to thank Senator Warren for her commitment to keeping our communities safe, and with this legislation, I look forward to a future where our families can feel safe in their schools and communities,” said State Senator Eric Lesser.

“Worcester Youth Center, Inc. serves at-risk youth in the City of Worcester. Our work includes supporting some of the most vulnerable young people to achieve a better life. Gun violence plays a major role in the disruption of community well-being resulting in unhealthy fear, premature death, and incarceration. These situations are devastating to families and the broader community, as we have seen firsthand some of our members suffer through these conditions that can negatively impact daily life. Worcester Youth Center is committed to keeping illegal guns out of the hands of young people and eliminating access to weapons.  The Youth Center supports investments in alternatives to youth violence through pro-social activities, which guide young people to better decision making,” said Samuel Martin, Executive Director, and Nydia Colón, Director of Creative Leadership, Worcester Youth Center, Inc.

“The mission of our United Way of Central Massachusetts is to connect people and resources to improve the community. Through mid-November of 2022, there have been 607 ‘mass shootings’ in our United States. A ‘mass shooting’ is defined as one in which four people are shot. Further, it is reported that death due to firearms (accidental shootings, suicide, and homicide) is the number one cause of death of children in our United States. This Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act has the possibility of greatly reducing those awful statistics. Simply, it will save lives. And, as such, it will improve the community. We stand with Senator Warren in support of this proposed legislation,” said Tim Garvin, President and CEO, United Way of Central Massachusetts.

“Sen. Warren’s Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act will provide long-overdue, common-sense action to weaken the gun violence epidemic touching Americans in all walks of life. Strengthening background checks, ensuring safer gun storage, cracking down on gun trafficking, and funding research-based solutions to gun violence — these actions will more effectively keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people while keeping responsible gun owners and their loved ones safer,” said Dr. Joanna MacGugan and Dr. Peter McConarty, co-leads of the Central Mass. chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

“We need this bill because it’s a winner, guns are a no-win situation for victims or offenders. A game no one wants to play,” said Derrick Kiser, CEO of Fresh Start.

"There is no one single solution to gun violence. Gun violence will only stop once we invest in community-based solutions, close loopholes that allow people who shouldn't have guns to purchase them, and treat gun violence like the public health crisis that it is. The Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act of 2022 does just that, and we thank Senator Warren for her leadership in taking a robust and comprehensive approach to gun safety."  –Adzi Vokhiwa, Federal Affairs Director, Giffords

“Senator Warren’s comprehensive approach to tackling our nation’s gun violence crisis will build safer communities and create a future in which our children can go to school or play in the yard without fear of death and injury,” said Igor Volsky, Executive Director of Guns Down America. 

“2022 will be remembered as a year marred by mass shootings, needless death and suffering, all because of unfettered access to guns. This summer, we demanded bold solutions to end this crisis and we made historic federal progress–but it isn’t enough. Only by requiring criminal background checks for every firearm sale and banning military-style assault weapons will we meet the urgency of the moment and prevent the next tragedy,” said Zeenat Yahya, Director of Policy at March For Our Lives. "The Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act is exactly what we’ve been calling for."

"Over one million Americans have been shot and over 400,000 have been killed by guns since 26 children and educators were killed by a gunman with an AR15 in Sandy Hook Elementary School 10 years ago. Guns are now the number one killer of American children. Gun violence is a public health emergency and it's time for Congress to act with a sense of urgency by passing a set of bold policies to dramatically reduce gun deaths and injuries. The time is now for Congress to swiftly pass Senator Warren's Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act and send it to President Joe Biden's desk for his signature." said Po Murray, Chairwoman, Newtown Action Alliance

"Amnesty applauds the efforts earlier this year with the passage of the Safer Community Act, but as we emphasized then - it was only the first step, and more needs to be done. The next step is Senator Warren’s legislation - the Gun Violence Prevention and Community Act.  The Gun Violence Prevention and Community Act legislation will further strengthen laws regarding background checks, ERPO, Safe Storage and funding for community based organizations that are the frontline workers of gun violence prevention - a specific focus for Amnesty. There are Heroes working against gun violence every day in communities across the country. Many times putting their lives on the line to eradicate gun violence and its time our congressional leaders support them, not just in theory but fully." Ernest Coverson, Director Gun Violence Prevention Amnesty International USA

“Senator Warren’s Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act puts years of evidence-based research into practice. We support bills like this that not only keep guns out of the wrong hands but also keep weapons of war off of our streets. Stop Handgun Violence applauds Senator Warren’s approach and hopes that both chambers will enact this bill that would save lives.” –Zoe Grover Executive Director, Stop Handgun Violence

"At the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, we believe that we will move the needle on gun violence through policy change, sustained investment in community based solutions, and meaningful research into root causes of gun violence. We are grateful to Senator Warren for introducing the Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act, which includes all of those components. We look forward to supporting the passage of this act, which we know will save lives and prevent the trauma of gun violence.

“On behalf of the physicians and medical students who form the Massachusetts Medical Society, we support this legislation and applaud Senator Warren’s focus on the scourge that is our nation’s firearm violence epidemic,” said Theodore A. Calianos, II, MD, FACS,  President of the Massachusetts Medical Society. “This bill is in alignment with our organizational policies and importantly establishes a pathway to evidence-based solutions that will reduce and prevent firearm violence while providing meaningful and sustainable investment to better understand and address its causes. The Medical Society looks forward to working with legislators toward the passage of this bill.”

“National Council of Jewish Women welcomes Senator Warren’s Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act, bold legislation that would address the epidemic of gun violence — the leading cause of death for children. The bill would keep our communities safe by creating a federal gun licensing system, require universal background checks, establish a federal Extreme Risk Protection Order system, raise the minimum age for all gun or ammunition purchases to 21, establish a 7-day waiting period for the purchase of all gun laws, and keep weapons of war off our streets, among other critical provisions. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was a step forward, and now it’s time to take the next step to reduce violence and save lives by passing this vital legislation. As an organization that works for women, children, and families, this comprehensive measure cannot get passed soon enough.” –National Council of Jewish Women, Jody Rabhan, Chief Policy Officer 

“We applaud this comprehensive Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act bill that includes a variety of critical firearm safety measures to curb the epidemic of gun violence that continues to plague our communities and steal innocent lives in America. For decades, JWI has been working to protect survivors from dangerous abusers and we welcome the inclusion of the important provision to ban violent offenders, including individuals subject to restraining orders, convicted of misdemeanor stalking offenses, or with outstanding arrest warrants, from purchasing or possessing firearms. This bill will be a monumental step to protecting our communities, families, and survivors." –Meredith Jacobs, CEO of Jewish Women International