November 04, 2021

Congressman Neguse Unveils Legislation to Close Gun Purchase Loophole Following Mass Shooting In Boulder

The legislation would prohibit individuals convicted of violent misdemeanors from purchasing firearms

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Joe Neguse, Vice Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, along with Representatives Jake Auchincloss and Robin Kelly, are unveiling the End Gun Violence Act, legislation to restrict the sale of firearms to those convicted of violent misdemeanor crimes in the last five years. The shooter who killed 10 people at a King Soopers in Boulder, Colorado on March 22nd, had previously been convicted of a violent misdemeanor. Under this Act, he would not have been eligible to purchase the firearm used to kill 10 individuals that day.

Currently, 22 states and the District of Columbia prohibit handgun purchases by persons convicted of certain misdemeanor crimes. However, these individuals are still eligible to purchase firearms in the remaining states, creating a patchwork of eligibility and increasing the risk of firearm-related violence. Establishing a federal law to prohibit the sale of firearms to those who have been convicted of violent misdemeanor offenses will legally protect vulnerable populations not currently covered by state law and create a national standard. In June, the Colorado state legislature enacted similar legislation barring those convicted of violent misdemeanor crimes from purchasing guns for five years.

“While our local law enforcement seek justice for the senseless act of violence perpetrated against our community on March 22nd, we are working to change the law to prevent future tragedies,”  said Congressman Joe Neguse. “Ensuring that firearms cannot be sold to violent individuals is crucial to preventing gun violence and saving lives. This law is common-sense and would keep guns out of the hands of those likely to use them to perpetrate violence.”

“I applaud Representative Neguse’s leadership and his continued commitment to reducing gun violence in this country.  This bill represents a strong step forward,” said Boulder District Attorney Michael Dougherty. “By preventing gun purchases for those with violent criminal convictions in the preceding 5 years, this bill focuses on those individuals who have just recently proven to be a real danger to other people.  The bill is exactly what we need — a focused effort to keep guns away from those who present an immediate danger to others in the community.  The District Attorney’s Office strongly supports Representative Neguse’s work to reduce gun violence.”

“My daughter, Teri Leiker, was murdered in the shooting on March 22, 2021. She had worked at King Soopers since February 1989.  She loved her job, her co-workers and her customers.  She was a very happy, sweet person. She had mild cognitive disabilities, but owned her own condo and lived with her boyfriend - who also worked at the same King Soopers store for over 30 years.  He was very traumatized over the shooting since he saw people dead on the floor and lost his girlfriend.  We are overwhelmed with sorrow and miss Teri very much,” said Margie, Teri Leiker’s mother. “A Federal law is essential to help keep guns and ammunition out of the hands of people who have been convicted of violent misdemeanor crimes.  State laws prohibiting gun sales to these type of individuals do not protect innocent people in other states who don't have strict gun laws. Federal legislation is absolutely necessary.”

“We all need to feel safe to live our lives and go into everyday places such as stores, classrooms, movie theaters, places of worship, and parks,” said Ellen Mahoney, Kevin Mahoney’s widow.

“Tragedies like the King Snoopers shooting should never be repeated. No one with a violent misdemeanor conviction should have access to guns. By closing the boyfriend loophole, we are saving lives and keeping our neighborhoods safer,” said Congressman Jake Auchincloss.

“Evidence shows that handgun purchasers with prior convictions for violent offenses are more than 10 times as likely to be charged with a violent crime in the future. More than 20 states already recognize the connection between violent misdemeanor crime and the potential for future gun violence. This bill will create a federal law to prevent those who have a history of interpersonal violence from legally purchasing firearms for five years,” said Congresswoman Robin Kelly. “There is no one perfect solution to prevent gun violence but keeping guns out of the hands of people we already know to be violent is common sense.”

“Flagging violent misdemeanors on background checks is one of the most important things we can do to keep people safe from gun violence,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “Rep. Neguse's bill will help keep guns out of the hands who shouldn't have them and we'll all be safer for it.”

“This law is the definition of common-sense — if you commit a violent misdemeanor, there should be some limitations on how soon you can legally buy a gun," said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “We applaud Rep. Neguse for taking action to keep guns out of dangerous hands, which will make all of our communities safer.”

“Our federal laws contain notable gaps that allow individuals who have demonstrated a significant risk of violence to access firearms, endangering the people around them,” said Adzi Vokhiwa, Federal Affairs Director at Giffords. “While certain states have taken meaningful steps to fill these gaps, we need urgent federal action to keep Americans safe. We applaud Rep. Neguse for introducing the End Gun Violence Act to prohibit the sale of firearms and ammunition to those convicted of violent misdemeanors. As crime rates increase nationwide, we urge Congress to find the courage to act and pass this lifesaving legislation.”

In 1996, Congress amended the Gun Control Act of 1968 to prohibit individuals convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence from shipping, transporting, possessing or receiving firearms or ammunition. In passing this amendment, Congress acknowledged the link between intimate partner violence and firearm use. Since then, research has shown that persons convicted of misdemeanor crimes of violence are at high risk for committing new firearm and/or violent crimes. Despite advocacy from gun violence prevention groups and supporting evidence, Congress has not updated federal law, which has produced deadly results.

Read a one-pager on this bill HERE.

Read the full bill text HERE.

The bill is endorsed by Giffords Law Center, Everytown for Gun Safety, Colorado Ceasefire, Alliance for Suicide Prevention of Larimer County, Newtown Action Alliance, Guns Down America, Sandy Hook Promise, and Violence Policy Center. Additional cosponsors include Representatives Lucy McBath, Lou Correa, Jamie Raskin, Ted Deutch, Jason Crow and Ted Lieu.

Tackling the gun violence epidemic has been a top priority for Congressman Neguse throughout his time in office, and he has redoubled his efforts in the wake of the March 2021 shooting at a King Soopers in Boulder, Colorado. He recently requested and secured increased funding for gun violence prevention as a part of the 2021 budget reconciliation. He also introduced the Secure Background Checks Act to close a loophole in the Federal Background Check system that allowed individuals to circumvent state laws by traveling out-of-state to illegally purchase firearms. The fix aims to address an issue that allowed an illegal gun purchase in 2019 which led to threats against Colorado schools and caused widespread closures. Earlier this year, he led over 100 members of Congress in a letter to President Biden, urging that the arm-brace used in the Boulder shooting, which allowed a pistol to be turned into a short-barrel rifle, be regulated. This request was accepted by President Biden, and the Department of Justice is currently in a rulemaking process to implement this change.