Roby Votes Against Judiciary Democrats’ Overreaching Gun Control Measure

February 14, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, late last night voted against Committee passage of a gun control bill that would encroach on law-abiding citizens’ constitutional Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. She released the following statement:

“I am strong supporter of the Second Amendment and an individual’s right to keep and bear arms. This bill would do nothing more than criminalize common transfers of firearms while doing nothing to prevent gun violence.

“This legislation is poorly drafted and ill-considered. It simply punishes lawful gun owners without addressing the realities behind gun violence. To combat gun violence, we must look at improvements to our mental health system, and we must more effectively enforce the laws currently on the books. We should not be wasting valuable time on an ineffective bill that will only serve to impede upon the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans.”

H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, would implement requirements on firearm transfers that criminalize everyday actions of honest, law-abiding citizens without decreasing violent firearm crime. Some of the actions that would become illegal include loaning a gun to a neighbor, donating a historic firearm to a museum, or gifting a gun to a relative. The bill would even make it illegal to remove firearms from friends’ or neighbors’ houses at their request if they express concern about suicidal thoughts.

Representative Roby voiced her strong disapproval of the measure, submitting the following remarks for the record:

I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and an individual’s right to keep and bear arms. The overwhelming majority of gun owners are law-abiding citizens who use firearms for sporting purposes, as historical collector’s items, to go hunting with their children, and if necessary, to protect themselves and their families. The legislation that we are considering today would do nothing more than criminalize common transfers of firearms while doing nothing to prevent gun violence.

However, some lawmakers view the Second Amendment as being an inferior Amendment, to be restricted and curtailed.  But the Founding Fathers included the first 10 Amendments, also known as the Bill of Rights, in the Constitution because they understood the need to place restrictions on the federal government in order to protect individual liberty.

The Second Amendment states that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” In 2008, the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as for self-defense within the home. Anytime we are discussing placing restrictions on an enumerated constitutional right, we must very carefully weigh the different competing interests.

I, along with fellow colleagues here on our side of the aisle, do want to see a reduction in violent crime and rates of gun violence. Unfortunately, the legislation we are considering today would do nothing to help combat gun violence, especially in relation to mass shootings. None of the recent mass shootings that have occurred in this country would have been prevented with this legislation. The only effect this legislation would have that I can clearly determine would be preventing law-abiding citizens from exercising their Second Amendment constitutional right.

This legislation is poorly drafted and ill considered. Some of the actions that would become illegal include loaning a gun to a longtime neighbor, say because of recent break-ins in the neighborhood, donating a historic firearm to a museum, or gifting a gun to a stepchild. This legislation would even make it illegal to remove firearms from a friend’s or neighbor’s house at their request if they were having suicidal thoughts. This simply punishes lawful gun owners without addressing the realities behind gun violence.

In California, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, universal background checks have proven to be a failure. A recent study by the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis and Johns Hopkins University found that the implementation of universal background checks had no effect on the rates of suicide or homicide by firearms. Simply put, universal background checks have been proven to not reduce gun violence and will do nothing to protect the American people.

To combat gun violence, we must look at improvements to our mental health system, and we must more effectively enforce the laws currently on the books. We should not be wasting valuable time on an ineffective bill that will only serve to impede upon the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans. I urge my colleagues to vote against this measure and work on finding real solutions to gun violence. We should stop playing politics with legislation that won’t benefit the American people.

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