June 09, 2022

Congressman Castro Votes to Pass Common-Sense Measures to Keep Texans Safe from Gun Violence

WASHINGTON – This week, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) joined a bipartisan coalition of House members to pass the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act and the Protecting Our Kids Act, bills that would help prevent mass shootings and limit access to guns for people who present a verifiable danger to themselves or others.

“Sixteen days ago, nineteen Texas children and two teachers were gunned down in a massacre that could have been prevented by basic gun safety laws,” said Congressman Castro. “The House has passed common-sense gun bills that will save lives and honor the victims of the Uvalde shooting – and now, it’s up to the Senate to act. If Republican senators refuse to pass meaningful gun safety reform, it will be proof that their loyalties lie with the gun lobby instead of the American people.” 

The Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act would protect families and communities from gun violence by allowing federal authorities to authorize the removal of guns from people who are deemed likely to harm themselves or others. The bill also provides grant funding to help establish or maintain laws that allow for similar extreme risk protection orders at the state and local level. A full fact sheet on the bill is available here.

The Protecting Our Kids Act would: 

Raise the purchasing age for certain semi-automatic weapons from 18 to 21 years old.

  • Young people are disproportionately likely to commit fatal gun crimes. Data from the FBI shows that while 18–20-year-olds make up just four percent of the U.S. population, they account for 17 percent of known homicide offenders. Several of the deadliest mass shootings in the United States – including Uvalde, Buffalo, Santa Fe, Parkland, and Columbine – were committed by individuals who would not have been able to purchase firearms under this provision of the Protecting Our Kids Act.
    • In Texas, the legal age to purchase a handgun is 21 years old, but 18-year-olds can purchase rifles, including the AR-15-style rifle used in the Uvalde massacre. 

Crack down on gun trafficking and illegal “straw” purchases of firearms on behalf of a third party.

  • U.S. gun trafficking and straw purchases play a significant role in domestic gun crimes and cross-border criminal activity. Every year, there are more than 30,000 attempted straw purchases. When successful, these purchases allow guns to fall into the hands of dangerous criminals and syndicates. According to data collected by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, 70 percent of the guns recovered from criminal activity in Mexico from 2011-2016 were purchased in the United States.
    • Under current federal law, it is illegal to make false statements on gun purchase forms, but these forms are not required for all purchases. The Protecting Our Kids Act would ensure that straw purchases can be prosecuted as independent offenses. 

Strengthen safe storage requirements to protect children from accidental shootings.

  • To date in 2022, children have committed at least 117 accidental shootings, resulting in 51 deaths. Safe gun storage can reduce suicides and unintentional gun deaths among minors by more than 50 percent. The Protecting Our Kids Act would set federal standards for safe gun storage on residential premises and help states create and implement safe gun storage laws. The bill would further incentivize the safe storage of firearms by requiring federally licensed firearm dealers to provide secure storage or safety devices with the sale of shotguns or rifles and by imposing a penalty of up to 5 years in prison if a child or a resident who is ineligible to possess a firearm accesses an unsecured firearm and causes injury or death. 

Outlaw bump stocks and high-capacity magazines, which make mass shootings more deadly.

  • Bump stocks, which were used by the shooter in the deadly 2017 Las Vegas shooting, allow semi-automatic weapons to be fired in rapid succession. High-capacity magazines, which can hold more than 15 rounds, allow gunmen to fire rapidly without reloading. Used together or separately, bump stocks and high-capacity magazines inflict higher casualties and make it harder for bystanders or law enforcement to intervene in an active shooting. Nearly 60 percent of mass shootings committed from 2009 to 2018 involved guns with high-capacity magazines. The Protecting Our Kids Act would regulate bump stocks the same as machine guns. 

Closing the ghost gun loophole.

  • Untraceable “ghost” guns are designed to evade government regulations by requiring the buyer to assemble the component parts into a working gun. Over the last decade, nearly 2,500 ghost guns have been connected to criminal activity in federal cases.
    • The Protecting Our Kids Act would close the ghost gun loophole by amending the definition of “firearm” under federal law to include gun kits and partial receivers and by updating the definition of “manufacturing firearms” to include assembling firearms using 3D printing technology.

A full fact sheet on the Protecting Our Kids Act is available here.