ABA urges steps ‘to curb the scourge of gun violence’

American Bar Association


The ABA is backing gun violence restraining orders and limits on the sale of assault weapons in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The March 6 letter, signed by ABA President Hilarie Bass, urges the committee to take swift steps “to curb the scourge of gun violence.”

Bass wrote to the committee in advance of a March 14 oversight hearing examining the Valentine’s Day shooting that killed 17 people at a school in Parkland, Florida. Grassley announced the hearing March 1, the Washington Times reported. The alleged shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was indicted Wednesday on 17 charges of murder and 17 charges of attempted murder, the Sun Sentinel reports.

The ABA letter supports enactment of state laws that would allow courts to issue gun violence restraining orders that temporarily remove guns from people who are dangerous to themselves or others.

The two U.S. senators from Florida announced Wednesday that they plan to file a bill to encourage states to authorize gun violence restraining orders, according to the Hill.

The bill will use grants to spur states to enact such laws, according to Sens. Marco Rubio, a Republican, and Bill Nelson, a Democrat.

Five states already have such laws and more than a dozen others are considering them.

The ABA letter offers these other recommendations:

• Restrict the sale and possession of assault weapons, which are “more dangerous not only because of their rapid-firing capability, but also their devastating power.” The weapons could be outlawed or subjected to the same rigorous regulation as machine guns. Bump stocks should also be banned or subjected to heightened regulation.

• Require universal background checks. Current law requires background checks only for guns purchased from a federally licensed dealer. Research suggests that firearms obtained through private sales are disproportionately used in criminal activity, the letter says.

• Pave the way for swifter entry of information into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Recent legislation would put greater pressure on federal agencies to upload the information more quickly. Federal funding could also help states upgrade their background check systems.

• Repeal the so-called “Dickey Amendment,” which has had a chilling effect on gun-related research by the Centers for Disease Control and other federal agencies. The amendment barred the CDC from using money to “advocate or promote gun control,” according to this article in the Atlantic.

• Repeal the federal law granting civil immunity to gun dealers and manufacturers in suits alleging misuse of guns.

See also: Gun violence restraining orders backed by House of Delegates

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