December 06, 2023

Warren, Johnson Reintroduce Comprehensive Legislation to Address Gun Violence in America

Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act Would Implement Series of Common-Sense Reforms to Address Gun Violence Crisis

Bill Text (PDF) | Bill Summary (PDF)

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and U.S. 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 implements 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. 

“We’re in a gun violence crisis: 2023 is on track to see the most mass shootings in recent history, and gun violence is now the leading cause of death for children and young people,” said Senator Warren. “This crisis demands big, structural change to protect kids in schools, victims of domestic violence in their homes, and Americans in communities across the country – so I’m renewing the push for my comprehensive Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act."

“It’s painfully obvious that communities of color disproportionately bear the brunt of gun violence in the United States, particularly Black women, who are twice as likely as white women to be fatally shot by an intimate partner,” said Representative Johnson. “Even when firearms are not used to kill or maim, they are used to threaten women at alarming rates. We know that 4.5 million women alive today have reported being threatened with a firearm. Commonsense gun laws -- like the Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act -- as well as direct investments in the communities that are most affected by gun violence are crucial to ending gun violence and saving lives. I commend Senator 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.”

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. In 2023, the U.S. is on track to see the most mass shootings in recent history. 2021 CDC data, the most recent year for which complete data is available, indicates that 48,830 lives were lost to gun violence. According to Giffords, on average, 116 Americans die from gun violence everyday. Furthermore, of any comparable nation, the United States has the weakest gun laws and the most guns, at 393 million. 

The bill is cosponsored by Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Representatives Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.), David Trone (D-Md.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Bill Keating (D-Mass.), Jake Auchincloss (D-Mass.), Lori Trahan (D-Mass.), Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.).

The Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act 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 expanding gun-free school zones to colleges and universities.
  • 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; the late-Senator Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) Assault Weapons Ban of 2023 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 3D Printed Gun Safety Act of 2023, 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.

"I’m grateful to Senator Warren and Representative Johnson for their steadfast leadership in reintroducing this vital legislation aimed at addressing the pressing public health issue of gun violence in our nation," said Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. "Congress and every elected official must utilize every available resource to ensure the safety and well-being of our communities."

“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.”

The legislation is endorsed by Amnesty International USA, Boston Medical Center, Giffords, Guns Down America, MA Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, March for Our Lives, Massachusetts Medical Society, The Hotline (formerly the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence), National Council of Jewish Women, Newtown Action Alliance, States United to Prevent Gun Violence, and Stop Handgun Violence. 

"Senator Warren’s legislation - the Gun Violence Prevention and Community Act, continues the fight to end gun violence in communities across this country. States across the country have taken steps and now our federal government must take action to improve and 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," said Ernest Coverson, Director of Gun Violence Prevention at Amnesty International USA

"Gun violence is a complex, multifaceted public health crisis, and it will not be cured by a single policy prescription. However, an all-of-government, multipronged approach that combines investing in violence intervention strategies with restricting access to guns for people who are most at risk of committing violence could make a significant difference for our gun violence crisis. We applaud Senator Warren for introducing the Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act to do just that and urge Congress to pass this legislation quickly," said Adzi Vokhiwa, GIFFORDS Federal Affairs Director.

“Senator Warren’s bold approach to tackling our nation’s gun violence crisis will build safer communities and create a future in which our children can learn without fear of gun violence," said Hudson Munoz, Executive Director of Guns Down America. "We applaud Senator Warren's leadership in holding the gun industry responsible for the injuries and harm caused by its products."

“The Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act is a comprehensive and life-saving bill that will ensure that we address the number one killer of young people- gun violence. From strengthening background checks and banning military-style assault weapons to holding the gun industry accountable for wrongdoing, and investing in research and community-based gun violence prevention — March For Our Lives fully supports this bill and urges Congress to pass it immediately," said Zeenat Yahya, Director of Policy at March for Our Lives. “We commend Senator Warren and Representative Johnson for reintroducing this bill, and we stand with them as they try to save lives and end this epidemic.”

“Gun violence is an incredibly complex issue, one that necessitates complex and comprehensive responses. But we can prevent gun violence if our responses include policy change, sustained investment in community based solutions, and meaningful research into root causes. We are grateful to Senator Warren for re-introducing the Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act, which includes all of those critical components. We strongly support this piece of legislation, which will be an essential part of keeping every person in every community safer from gun violence,” said Ruth Zakarin, Executive Director Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence.

“The Massachusetts Medical Society thanks Senator Warren for her continued commitment to addressing the pressing issue of firearm violence by introducing legislation that makes meaningful, evidence-based change. As we support bans on assault weapons and programs that aim to reduce gun violence, we stand in strong support of this bill, which not only seeks to promote public health by improving firearm safety but also provides means to invest in curing the root causes of this national epidemic. In particular, we support the efforts to increase certain restrictions on sales and ownership of firearms. The Medical Society is looking forward to working with the Senator to help pass this critical legislation,” said Barbara Spivak, MD. President of the Massachusetts Medical Society.

“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,” said the National Council of Jewish Women.

“Gun Violence is a national crisis. There are 100 million more guns in the hands of civilians - including 13.7 million more AR15s and gun deaths have increased by 50% since 20 children and six educators were hunted and killed by a gunman with an AR15 in Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. Guns continue to be the leading cause of death for children and teens in 2022. We need transformative changes to protect our children and loved ones from gun violence therefore Congress must urgently pass Senator Warren’s bill,” said Po Murray, Chairwoman of Newtown Action Alliance.

“States United to Prevent Gun Violence wholeheartedly supports Senator Warren's Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act. This comprehensive legislation takes crucial steps to address the epidemic of gun violence in our country and save lives. By implementing measures such as universal background checks, banning assault weapons, and investing in community-based prevention programs, this bill embodies the urgent action needed to make our communities safer and protect the well-being of all Americans," said Nick Matuszewski, Advocacy Lead for States United to Prevent Gun Violence.

“Stop Handgun Violence applauds Senator Warren's Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act that will keep guns out of the wrong hands and keep weapons of war off of our streets. We hope both chambers will work toward saving lives by enacting this bill,” said Sonya Y. Coleman, Executive Director of Stop Handgun Violence.