Senator Tim Kaine: Gun Laws Have 'Done Little' to Stop Violence

What are the most practical and effective steps we can take to reduce gun violence in the U.S.? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Tim Kaine, U.S. Senator from Virginia, on Quora:

As tragedies in Virginia and across the country have shown, the gun laws in our country have done little to stem senseless gun violence. Congress cannot be complacent when this remains so prevalent in American society. There are many commonsense reforms that have been proposed in the Senate. Here's what I support.

Just this week, I announced my support for two bills that would reduce gun violence in our communities and help save lives. The first is the CDC Research on Firearms Safety or Gun Violence Prevention Act, which would lift a de facto ban on firearms safety research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We need to give this agency the resources and leeway to do its job, not handcuff them on potentially life-saving research and data we can use for good. The other bill, the Fix Gun Checks Act, would dramatically strengthen background record checks on all private and online firearm sales. It would close "private sale" loopholes - including the "gun show loophole," internet sales, and other private transfers - by requiring background checks for transfers at gun shows and other venues not covered under current gun laws. I also support the No Check No Sale Act, which would require a completed background check for every gun buyer who purchases a gun from a federally-licensed gun dealer, closing the loophole that has allowed thousands of gun sales to prohibited buyers, including the sale of the firearm used by Dylann Roof in his deadly attack at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., last June.

I've also introduced the Responsible Transfer of Firearms Act to hold people responsible if they sell or transfer a firearm to someone who is barred by federal law from possessing firearms. Under current law, gun sellers can only be held liable if they know or have reasonable cause to believe that the recipient is prohibited. The Responsible Transfer of Firearms Act would require someone selling or transferring a weapon to take reasonable steps to make sure that the recipient is not prohibited from possessing a firearm.

Other important steps to reduce gun violence include expanding mental health services and responsible limits on combat-style weapons and high-capacity magazines. Ultimately, efforts to reduce gun violence must focus on multiple solutions. Congress has to have the courage to debate them and find common ground. We will never be able to eliminate every crime or every gun crime, but the question is, can we make our communities even a little bit safer from gun violence? I believe we can.

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