In the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 14 students and three faculty dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, EW asked Rep. Peter DeFazio about his views on gun control. DeFazio was given a 21 percent rating by the NRA in 2016 according to VoteSmart.org. Oregon Republican Greg Walden, by comparison, received a 93 percent rating. DeFazio’s full statement can be read below.
“It’s clear that something must be done to combat the deadly cycle of gun violence in our nation’s schools. Unfortunately, our Republican-led Congress has been woefully inactive in passing legislation to address our nation’s gun violence problems. I have pushed my Republican colleagues to enact commonsense solutions at the federal level that match the standards we have here in Oregon, like universal background checks.
After the mass shooting in Las Vegas last October, where the shooter used a ‘bump stock’, a device that converted a semi-automatic weapon into a near-fully automatic weapon, it seemed likely that Congress would finally act. I stood with former Representative and gun violence survivor Gabby Giffords and Representative John Lewis on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building and called on Republican Leadership to take immediate action to curb gun violence, including banning bump stocks and other similar devices. Sadly, even after that national tragedy that left 58 people dead, Republicans refused to allow legislation banning the sale of bump stocks to come to the floor.
In addition, I have taken a number of steps to push for reforms here in Congress, including asking Speaker Ryan to name a Select Committee to investigate the causes of and lessen the potential for gun violence in America; allowing the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to research gun violence as a public health threat; and supporting the passage of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to help keep guns out of the hands of prohibited individuals. I am also a co-sponsor of the Gun Violence Restraining Order Act, legislation that would help enable family members to seek emergency protective orders against a loved one who poses a threat to themselves or others, and temporarily bar that individual from being able to purchase or possess firearms. The Oregon state legislature passed similar legislation last year.
Finally, I helped pass legislation to overhaul our nation’s mental healthcare system. Unfortunately, President Trump’s budget would actually cut millions of dollars for mental health research and care.
It’s true that the FBI did receive tips about the Florida shooter that they did not fully investigate—that’s an oversight that must be looked into. However, President Trump was wildly inappropriate when he tweeted that the FBI was too consumed with their investigation into his connections with Russia to properly scrutinize the tips they received about the Parkland shooter. To use this tragedy as an opportunity to cast doubt on the FBI for the President’s own personal gain is reprehensible.
I’ve pushed for sensible solutions to our nation’s gun problems for years. The unfortunate reality is that Republicans will not allow a House vote on any gun control legislation. I will continue to push for better legislation to curb our nation’s gun violence problem, but with Republicans in charge, even these commonsense proposals, let alone any truly comprehensive reform, will not go anywhere.”