Issue Position: Public Safety

Issue Position

Date: Jan. 1, 2016

I know first-hand the terrible toll that crime and violence takes on our community and nation. In 1999, my youngest son Huey was shot and killed in Chicago. For my family and me, our lives were forever changed by this tragedy. I know we are not alone. While the Justice Department reports a significant decline in violent crime nationwide as well as in Chicago, the raw numbers are still too high. For far too many American families, gun violence is so prevalent in their communities that it has become a horrifying part of their everyday lives.

In 2015 I re-introduced the "Blair Holt Licensing and Firearms Record of Sale Act." After the assassination on 9-year old Tyshawn Lee, I am adamant about reforming and reshaping the unfettered access to dangerous firearms being accessible to criminals. This bill provides for the implementation of a system of licensing for purchasers of certain firearms and for a record of sale system for those firearms, and for other purposes.

In response to the concerns of my constituents, I cosponsored the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act of 2013 (H.R. 1565). This bill would provide improvements to how the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) treats mental health records. This bill would also establish a four-year implementation plan to ensure maximum coordination and automation of reporting of records or making records available to the NICS and would allow the submission of mental health records that would otherwise be protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act ("HIPAA").

In March 2013, I introduced the Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2013 (H.R. 955). This legislation is named after two wonderful young honors students whose promising lives were tragically cut short by gun violence. A key focus of the bill is targeted at firearms trafficking by individuals known as "straw purchasers," who play key roles in most firearms trafficking operations. This bill, if passed, would make it a crime to purchase a gun on behalf of another person in order to reduce straw purchases by gun traffickers on behalf of third parties who cannot purchase firearms legally. It would also equip law enforcement with needed tools, including the authority to conduct electronic surveillance to investigate cases involving straw purchasers and firearms traffickers.

In the wake of the disturbing and tragic Laquan McDonald video release, I introduced HR 589 to establish "The House Select Committee on Excessive Use of Police Force" to investigate and make recommendations to the United States Attorney General in regard to "Excessive Police Force."

Findings and Purposes of HR589:

This past year alone we have seen 7 different incidents of the unjustified use of lethal and excessive force by police officers against African-Americans.

From 2011 to 2015, 28,500 complaints filed against Chicago Police officers resulted in no discipline in a study conducted by the Invisible Institute and the Mandel legal clinic of the University of Chicago law school.

These incidents and countless others are not isolated but reflect a pervasive pattern of racial bias in the use of excessive force in communities of color.

It is the will of the Congress that a select committee be formed to investigate these patterns of excessive use of force in communities of color.