Washington, DC -- This week, Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) voted to protect Virginia communities and save lives with strong bipartisan legislation to address gun violence. The Protecting Our Kids Act and Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act include common sense gun safety measures that will crack down on illegal gun trafficking, allow for federal extreme risk protection orders, keep weapons of war out of the hands of teenagers, strengthen safe gun storage, restrict access to untraceable "ghost guns", and more.
"As a mom, it is horrifying that gun violence has become the leading killer of children in our country," said Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton. "Too many communities have been devastated by this epidemic, leaving Americans in fear that they will be gunned down every time they go to school, the grocery store, religious services, or other public gathering place. It is infuriating and unacceptable. I'm proud to champion gun safety legislation like the bipartisan bills we've passed this week, and will continue fighting until we enact the change that Americans across the nation are demanding."
Gun violence in America is responsible for more than 45,000 deaths per year, including 1,174 in Virginia alone. Every day, 30 Americans are murdered with a gun -- a number that rises to more than 100 when counting suicides and accidental shootings. In addition to this daily loss of life, gun violence continues to inflict a heavy financial burden -- imposing $2.8 billion in emergency room and inpatient costs on Americans each year.
This epidemic of gun violence has continued to tear through communities in Virginia and across the country. Last month, Americans were horrified by mass shootings at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas and a supermarket in Buffalo, New York -- both carried out by 18-year-olds legally armed with semi-automatic assault rifles. Just this past weekend, at least thirteen mass shootings terrorized more communities across the country.
The Protecting Our Kids Act takes key steps to address this crisis and safeguard Virginians' wellbeing. This bold legislative package includes several measures:
The Raise the Age Act: raising the purchasing age for semi-automatic weapons to 21 years old. Currently, someone could buy a semi-automatic rifle, the weapon of choice in many mass shootings, at just 18 years old -- yet you must be 21 to buy a less lethal handgun.
The Prevent Gun Trafficking Act: cracking down on gun trafficking and straw purchases to get illegal guns off of our streets.
The Untraceable Firearms Act: subjecting ghost gun purchases to background check requirements.
The Closing the Bump Stock Loophole Act: closing the bump stock loophole to ban these deadly tools from civilian use.
The Keep Americans Safe Act: outlawing high-capacity magazines, which are designed for killing en masse and have been the accessory of choice in the bloodiest mass shootings.
Strengthening safe storage requirements to protect children from accidental shootings.
Requiring an annual report of demographic data of those being determined to be ineligible to purchase guns.
The Protecting Our Kids Act builds on the House's twice-passed legislation advancing universal background checks for all gun purchases, action that is supported by nearly nine in ten Americans.
Additionally, the House voted to pass the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act which will allow family members and law enforcement officers to petition a federal court for an extreme risk protection order, empowering federal judges to prevent tragic shootings by temporarily removing firearms from potentially dangerous individuals. This legislation will also establish a new grant program at the U.S. Department of Justice, incentivizing more states to allow their courts to take this same life-saving action.