A gun rights activist told the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Thursday that educating the public about gun safety, providing firearms training, and enforcing existing gun laws are the answers to reducing shootings, not more legislation like the two background check bills that recently passed the House.
Dianna Muller founder of the DC Project, a women’s gun rights group, testified in front of the House Sub-committee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security during a hearing on reducing mass shootings. She said she believes the universal background check legislation currently waiting to be considered by the Senate will only punish law-abiding citizens and prevent less affluent citizens from exercising their Second Amendment rights, instead of preventing shootings.
“Based on years of evidence in the towns like St. Louis, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Chicago, it’s apparent that these policies do not work. The results are the same. Knowing that average citizens are less capable of defending themselves, criminals are emboldened, crime soars, and communities are less safe,” Muller told the panel in her written statement (pdf).
Muller said background check laws did not stop many of the recent mass shooters from getting guns but Democrats still passed two pieces of background check legislation that will increase the cost and time it takes to acquire a firearm.
“Ninety-five percent of these mass killings are in gun-free zones, it’s a problem. It’s not a gun problem it’s a gun-free zone problem. So it doesn’t make any sense to the average American that we would defund the police, and push gun control at the same time,” Muller told the House panel.
Mass shooters Nikolas Cruz (Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida), Devin Patrick Kelley (Sutherland Springs, Texas), Omar Mateen (Pulse nightclub, Florida), and 14 others all passed the background checks mandated by their respective states.
Muller cited the state of California’s mandatory background check law as an example of background checks not stopping mass shootings. The John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Gun Violence Prevention and Policy found that shootings have not waned even with California’s universal background check requirements.
H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, which passed the Democratic-led House 227 -203 with the support of eight Republicans, is said by advocates to close a loophole in gun laws by expanding background checks to those purchasing weapons over the internet, at gun shows, and through certain private transactions.
Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) who sponsored H.R. 8, said the law will make people safer.
“That’s why I’ve introduced legislation to close the private gun sale loophole. Because background checks work and expanding them would only make more people safe from gun violence. We have 90 percent of the American people on our side and it’s Constitutional,” said Thompson in a March statement.
Muller said that Democrats’ claim that the majority of Americans want stricter gun laws including universal background checks, is false. She cited the state of Maine and Maryland where such bills failed to pass and when they did pass in other states, it was by a slim margin.
Another bill, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021, passed 219-210 with only two Republicans supporting it. It gives authorities 10 business days for federal background checks to be completed before a gun sale can be licensed. Currently, background checks of buyers must be completed within three days and if it is not the sale can still be finalized.
“Gun owners are growing fatigued of being bullied, mischaracterized, and demonized. We are not the enemy, yet this president has vowed to ‘defeat the NRA,’ which is me. So far this year alone, there are 29 bills introduced that have the Second Amendment in the crosshairs,” Muller told the panel.
Muller is a retired 22-year veteran of the Tulsa Police Department who worked in Narcotics, Gangs, Street Crimes, and Patrol, and is a 30-year firearms instructor. She cited in her written statement that in 2020 3.4 million women became first-time gun owners, a record number.
“Women have been seeking professional firearms training in the past 14 months in droves. Instructors nationwide report an increase in students up to 200%. Although trainers don’t ask political affiliations or former beliefs in gun ownership, a large number of students indicated they had formerly been ‘anti-gun,’” Muller wrote.