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Pascrell and Davis Re-introduce Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities Act

Yesterday, U.S. Representatives Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) and Danny K. Davis (D-IL-07) re-introduced The Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities Act, which aims to combat gun violence through increased federal taxes on guns and ammunition and by closing tax and regulatory loopholes on some of the most popular and deadly firearms.

The excise taxes on guns and ammunition have not changed since 1919 and 1941, respectively. Through the Act, increased federal taxes on guns and ammunition would provide stable revenue to fund enforcement of existing gun laws and violence prevention efforts. Prominent public health researchers advocate such an approach, which draws on the success that increased taxes on tobacco have had on decreasing smoking.

The Act would direct an estimated $714 million in new revenue to programs designed to make communities safer and reduce violence, including: Project Safe Neighborhood Grants; Community-Oriented Policing Grants; Community-Based Violence Prevention Initiative Grants; research into the causes and prevention of gun violence via the Center for Disease Control’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control; the National Criminal History Improvement Program; the National Instant Criminal Background Check System Record Improvement Program; and grants to encourage schools to improve school climate and engagement.

The Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities Act was first introduced in 2015, but the Republican House never acted on it. Following a slew of devastating attacks, most recently at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Reps. Pascrell and Davis felt it was imperative to reintroduce the bill.

“Gun violence is tearing our nation apart. Congress needs to act now. This bill would be a good start,” said Rep. Pascrell, co-Chair of the House Law Enforcement Caucus and a member of the Ways and Means Committee. “After decades of inaction, raising the tax on firearms would provide an offset to the massive cost to society of gun violence, just as taxes on alcohol and tobacco have done. This legislation will also provide critical resources to our badly strapped state and local police forces, community anti-violence programs, and gun violence research. This bill would be a down payment on safeguarding our children, our communities, and our future. It would provide a rare win-win for all parties.”

“Gun violence in America has reached epidemic proportions and we cannot, as a nation, any longer tolerate the on-going social and economic costs of inaction,” said Rep. Davis. “Gun violence is a daily reality for America and, in particular, for urban cities like Chicago.  The crisis should outrage us all. This legislation is a pro-active approach to reducing gun violence by using proven preventive programs which have been starved for funds until now.  As part of a comprehensive, multidimensional strategy to reduce gun violence, this legislation closes major loopholes in tax law and lays out an equitable, long term, sustainable strategy to provide the requisite resources.”

In addition to the tragic human loss, gun violence exacts a tremendous price from our citizens, our governments, and the public health of our nation. Recent research demonstrates that firearm injury costs the United States over $214 billion annually, with over $12 billion of this loss born by state, federal and local governments. Given that these numbers only include costs post injury and not costs associated with preventing gun violence such as increased law enforcement and community intervention programs, these figures dramatically underestimate the true cost of gun violence to government. Remarkably, 65% of all costs to government are for intentionally-inflicted homicide or assault.  The University of Chicago Crime Lab estimates that gun violence costs the City of Chicago $2.5 billion a year alone.  Despite the high cost of gun violence, current federal taxes on guns and ammunition yielded only $749 million in 2016. In contrast, federal taxes on alcohol and cigarettes yielded $8 billion and $13.3 billion.

This legislation has been endorsed by: the Major Cities Chiefs Association; the Violence Policy Center; the Council of the Great City Schools; and the Newtown Action Alliance.

Details on the Act and relevant statistics can be viewed here.

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