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Sunday, May 16, 2021

Rep. Carson: Close the loopholes, pass gun-safety bills

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Hoosiers, and Americans across the country, have been senselessly killed. The twin epidemics of gun violence and police brutality have taken many of our loved ones, particularly in the Black community. This massive loss of life is tragic, but also preventable. As Indiana and our entire nation grapple with these ongoing crises, I want to let you know what I’m doing to help save lives.

Indianapolis is still grieving from the deadly shooting at the local FedEx facility that took eight innocent lives and injured others. My deepest sympathies are with the loved ones of the victims and the injured; my office stands ready to help however we can. There’s a lot we are still learning about this terrible act of violence, but what I do know is that the suspect should never have had access to a deadly weapon. I also know that this is not the first time Hoosiers have felt the sadness and pain due to gun violence. Unfortunately, it happens frequently in our community, and in towns and cities across America. Things must change.

That’s why I’m working hard in Congress to pass common-sense gun safety reforms. This year, I co-sponsored and voted for the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which requires a background check on all private gun sales.

I also voted for the Enhanced Background Checks Act, which extends the FBI’s window to conduct a background check on a gun sale from three business days to a minimum of 10 business days. Currently, if the background check is not completed in three business days, the sale can go through. This “Charleston loophole,” as some call it, is how a man was able to purchase the gun he used to kill nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. We must save lives by closing this loophole, and other lax policies that allow dangerous people to obtain firearms.

I urge the Senate to swiftly pass these gun-safety bills so President Joe Biden can sign them into law as soon as possible. We must also reinstate the assault weapons ban. There is no reason for military-style weapons or ammunition to be in the hands of civilians.

On the state level, it is unfortunate to me that a bill was considered to remove gun permit requirements in Indiana. We wisely require a permit to operate a vehicle and should maintain such requirements to handle deadly weapons. Fortunately, this effort failed, for now, but we must continue opposing these measures. No single policy will end gun violence, but there’s a lot we can do to save lives. We must act boldly. We owe it to everyone we have lost to this epidemic.

Black Hoosiers are also constantly burdened and traumatized by the epidemic of police brutality. The recent conviction of Derek Chauvin, the officer who murdered George Floyd, grabbed the attention of those who have ignored this problem in the past. However, for Black people, we have never been able to ignore this constant threat. That’s why we suffer through having “the talk” with our sons and daughters, to try and keep them alive if they have encounters with police. We also know that the rightful conviction of Derek Chauvin wasn’t justice — as many have said. It was accountability. Justice would have been served had George Floyd never been killed.

We must continue fighting for justice by ensuring police officers can no longer use their power and authority inappropriately to harm Black people with impunity. Carrying a badge should not mean immunity to accountability.

To help achieve this, I co-sponsored and voted for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which passed the House this March. Our landmark bill will hold police more accountable, ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants, require officer-worn body cameras, change the culture of law enforcement, improve training, empower communities to reimagine public safety in an equitable way, and more.

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is a strong bill that will help police officers build a better and more trusting relationship with the communities they serve. As a former law enforcement officer and someone who has been subject to police misconduct, I strongly support this bill and urge the Senate to vote on it as soon as possible.

Our communities should not live in constant fear of violence — either from dangerous criminals wielding weapons of war, or from police officers who harm the very people they swore an oath to serve and protect. We will never forget the friends, family and neighbors we’ve lost. Let’s keep striving to enact life-saving changes in their honor.

Rep. Carson represents the 7th District of Indiana. He is a Member of the Congressional Black Caucus and one of three Muslims in Congress. Rep. Carson sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Intelligence Committee, where he is chairman of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence and Counterproliferation. Contact Rep. Carson at carson.house.gov/contact.

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