U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Matteson, who originally got elected to Congress on a platform of stricter gun laws, issued a report Wednesday detailing the level of gun-related violence across the United States.
Kelly also introduced a bill before Congress urging law enforcement agencies to report all firearms they recover from crime scenes to the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms National Tracing Center.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., has introduced similar legislation in the Senate in past years, and he said Thursday he will cooperate with Kelly in hopes of getting stricter firearms laws passed.
“I am particularly glad to join with her in sponsoring legislation to encourage law enforcement to trace every single gun recovered in a crime,” Durbin said, in a prepared statement. “Crime gun tracing is free, it is easy and it is one of the most powerful tools that law enforcement has to solve crimes and identify gun trafficking networks.”
Whether anything will become of Kelly’s bill is questionable, since the House of Representatives is run by Republican interests supportive of firearms owners who view such bills as intrusions into their right to own such weapons. But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a prepared statement she wishes the measure could advance.
“It is our responsibility as public servants to keep the public safe, and taking strong action is the least we can do to honor the lives of those lost,” she said.
Kelly, in the report issued by her congressional office, points out that 439 people in Illinois were killed with a firearm during 2012, along with some 30,000 across the United States that year. Her staff could not offer a comparable statistic for Indiana.
“America has a gun violence problem,” said Kelly. "It’s time that we face it head on by instituting common sense gun reforms to save lives.
“We can strike the right balance between protecting the Second Amendment and promoting public safety by keeping guns out of the wrong hands,” she said.
The report proposes requiring universal background checks for handgun sales, strengthening laws to ensure people with records of domestic abuse and stalking are unable to purchase firearms, repealing gun manufacturer immunity to allow gun violence victims to sue for damages and investments in smart-gun technologies to prevent stolen guns from being used in criminal acts.
Among those who contributed to the congresswoman’s report were Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., who chairs the House gun violence prevention task force, and Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake also contributed.