Rep. Hill on House Passage of H.R. 7910

I want to let Arkansans know how I voted today and why. As a father of two now-adults, I, like all Americans, am appalled by the senseless acts of evil – most recently Uvalde, Texas, and those that have come before. 

I agree with the many who have contacted me that more must be done to stop the violence surging across the nation, including in my home city of Little Rock. We need to start with all corners of our society relearning how to value life and then coming to terms with how increased isolation and hopelessness along with deteriorating mental health – particularly during the past two years of the pandemic – have detrimentally affected our society, especially our children.   

Looking at legislative starts and stops over the past ten years confirms that stopping gun violence through legislative action is complicated.   Over the last ten years Congress has considered bills related to gun ownership, including some in response to specific incidents.  In that time, only two bills have been signed into law to curb guns in the hands of criminals and strengthen our schools.  I supported both of these bills, which were Republican-led bills and were signed into law by President Trump. The first, the Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act of 2018, provided resources to harden schools and enhance training to stop violence before it happens. The second, the “Fix NICS”, increased penalties on federal and state authorities that fail to report criminal history to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. I’ve also recently co-sponsored legislation introduced by Rep. Richard Hudson of North Carolina to fund school resource officers and mental health counselors, closes gaps in school security, and strengthen active shooter preparedness efforts. Further, I also led the effort to regulate so-called “bump stocks” which resulted in President Trump’s Department of Justice issuing strict rules on their use.

In that same time, Congress has also allocated millions towards measures to improve school security and increase mental health resources. I also supported the 21st Century Cures Act which was signed into law in 2016 and provided some of the most significant reforms to the mental health system in over a decade.

I did not support the bill that we voted on today because it was not negotiated in a bipartisan manner, in a number of instances is duplicative or contradicts current law, and unnecessarily infringes upon the guaranteed constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. For example, Title II sought to ban straw purchases of guns, but straw purchases are already illegal under federal law. Title V sought to ban bump stocks, but President Trump already placed strict rules on bump stocks in 2018.

House Democrats are also bringing a bill to the House Floor tomorrow to enact a federal “Red Flag” law. I do not support this bill because as drafted, it infringes upon an individual’s due process and Second Amendment rights. Criminal law matters and enforcement of this nature are typically state law matters.  

If House Democrats were serious, they would come to the table with proposals recognizing that compromise is possible.  They would work with Republicans on figuring out what drives some individuals to commit these heinous acts of violence, not continue to vilify the millions of legal gun owners in this country.

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