WASHINGTON, DC  — Today, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) joined co-sponsors Congressmen Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Albio Sires (D-NJ) and Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) to announce The Handgun Licensing and Registration Act of 2018. This legislation would overturn an outdated 1986 law to build a framework of commonsense standards for handgun gun ownership in the U.S. by creating a federal licensing and registration process for gun ownership with minimum requirements that: 

  • The person seeking gun ownership is at least 21 years old;
  • The person undergoes firearm training;
  • The handgun owner has undergone a criminal history and background check (including submitting fingerprints and photographs) and;
  • A license renewal process after five years of issuance.

The bill would allow states to the opportunity to opt out of the federal system on the condition that they implement a state registration system that meets the same requirements.

“The National Rifle Association has threatened, fundraised and strong-armed the debate around the second amendment for so long that commonsense measures — measures that would bring down rates of gun violence and even receive the support of law enforcement — have been deemed taboo. To that I say no more,” said Watson Coleman.

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“Our government requires registration and basic standards for voting, operating a vehicle, even opening a business. Yet, for weapons created with the single intent to take a life, we have developed a dangerous  aversion to any mechanism to understand where and with whom these weapons reside," the Congresswoman added. "Ninety-six Americans are killed every day by a gun. It’s time to give law enforcement the tools to prevent this violence and provide a record of accountability for those who seek to do others harm.”

“The plague of gun violence in our communities is completely unacceptable,” said Pallone. “As Members of Congress, it is not enough to ask for a moment of silence. It is not enough to express our thoughts and prayers. We must now follow the lead of the thousands of young people who came out to demand change last week and enact common sense solutions to reduce gun violence. The Handgun Licensing and Registration Act provides real solutions that will not only help prevent mass shootings like we saw in Parkland, but also curb the gun violence we see in our communities every day.”

“For far too long, Congress has failed to enact commonsense measures in response to the gun violence epidemic plaguing our nation” said Sires. “In 2016 alone, 7,105 people lost their lives to handguns and this piece of legislation is an important step to ending this violence by creating a standard of responsible gun ownership. I am proud to cosponsor this update to our laws to ensure that law-abiding individuals who want to own handguns have passed a background check and know how to handle these dangerous weapons safely and responsibly.”

“America has a gun problem and we cannot wait for the next tragedy strike before we work together to bring about common sense solutions and real reform,” said Espaillat. “According to Gifford’s Law Center, Americans own an estimated 270 million firearms, which accounts for nearly 90 guns per every 100 people. Yet, it is shocking to know that our country does not have a system in place to easily track and identify gun owners. There are a number of loopholes in our nation's broken gun system that allow troubled individuals to easily access guns and other firearms with minimal oversight. The Handgun Licensing and Registration Act would address this problem and help us navigate the licensing and registration process in an effort to keep our communities safe and keep guns out of the wrong hands.”

According to Gifford’s Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Americans own an estimated 270 million firearms, which is approximately 90 guns for every 100 people, yet most states lack a system to easily identify a gun owner and many require little or no firearm safety training. The Handgun Licensing and Registration Act of 2018 would set nationwide standards for gun ownership while finally providing a functional tool to prevent gun violence in all its forms.