Thank you for contacting me to share your thoughts on legislative efforts to reduce gun violence in the United States.
On September 16, 2013, twelve innocent men and women lost their lives at the Washington, DC Navy Yard at the hands of a gunman who, reports show, had a history of violent tendencies and serious mental illness. This shooting was one of the latest in a string of recent gun-related tragedies that continue to shock our communities. In the aftermath of this recent shooting and tragedies such as those in Newtown, Connecticut and at Virginia Tech, we need to take meaningful steps that will help us best avoid these kinds of mass shootings in the future. The status quo is not acceptable.
I own firearms and am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment constitutional right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms. However, I also recognize that, like with many of our constitutional rights, our Second Amendment rights are not without limits. During the spring of 2013, the Senate considered the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013 (S. 649) in an effort to address issues contributing to gun violence. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) attempted to amend this bill with a reasonable, bipartisan proposal to strengthen background checks. The Manchin-Toomey amendment would have closed the gun show loophole and prohibited the commercial sale of guns to those who are seriously mentally ill or have a criminal record while also upholding Second Amendment rights. I voted in favor of the Manchin-Toomey proposal but, unfortunately, the amendment received only 54 votes in support when it needed 60 votes for passage. Furthermore, its failure, which occurred one day after the sixth anniversary of the Virginia Tech tragedy, essentially halted consideration of the underlying gun safety bill, which included my bipartisan CAMPUS Safety Act.
There was also significant debate over proposals to ban certain types of weapons and magazines. I voted against those bans because, after talking to numerous experts, I believe the most effective action we can take to reduce gun-related violence and keep guns out of the hands of those prohibited by law from possessing them is to pass a strong background check law. This proposal is strongly supported by the American people and I believe that the Senate should continue to work to pass effective measures that will help to keep our children and communities safe and to improve our mental health system so we can provide help to those with dangerous mental illnesses before it is too late.
I appreciate you contacting me. I will keep your opinion in mind should the Senate address this issue or other relevant legislation. For further information or to sign up for my newsletter please visit my website at .
MARK R. WARNER
United States Senator