The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - NEWS -

“I read the news,” said Costello in an in­ter­view Thurs­day about the mo­tives be­hind his sup­port for the leg­is­la­tion. “I’ve al­ways had a close re­la­tion­ship with the Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Cen­ter of Ch­ester County, from when I was a (county) com­mis­sioner. I see a demon­stra­ble need to close the gap in re­port­ing.”

He said that the bill he and Rice put for­ward should pick up sup­port from both sides of the aisle in the House.

“I think this bill is nar­row enough and di­rected firmly at the is­sue” with­out go­ing off on tan­gents,” he said. “It’s a tar­geted fix. Ev­ery­one thinks it is the sen­si­ble thing to do.”

On Wed­nes­day, Nov. 8, some of the na­tion’s lead­ing gun safety and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence ad­vo­cates — in­clud­ing Capt. Mark Kelly, the hus­band of for­mer U.S. Rep. Gabby Gif­fords of Ari­zona, whose or­ga­ni­za­tion Amer­i­cans for Re­spon­si­ble Ac­tions is a lead­ing pro­po­nent of gun safety laws — joined with the leg­is­la­tors to urge ac­tion on the bill.

“These kinds of records prob­lems al­low do­mes­tic abusers to pass back­ground checks and ob­tain guns over 6,000 times, be­tween 2006 and 2015,” said Kelly dur­ing the con­fer­ence call. “These are peo­ple that should not be able to get a gun, and they get it any­way … And pass­ing leg­is­la­tion that in­cen­tivizes states to up­load com­plete do­mes­tic vi­o­lence records into the back­ground check sys­tem is crit­i­cal to strength­en­ing the sys­tem and pre­vent­ing fu­ture tragedies.”

“I ap­plaud Con­gress­man Ryan Costello and Con­gress­woman Kath­leen Rice for put­ting for­ward a bi­par­ti­san piece of leg­is­la­tion that re­quires states to fully up­load do­mes­tic vi­o­lence records into the back­ground check sys­tem,” said Gif­fords in a re­lease. “I urge my for­mer col­leagues to pass this bill and help make women and their fam­i­lies safer from do­mes­tic abusers with guns.”

In the 1990s, Congress rec­og­nized the se­ri­ous­ness of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence homi­cides by act­ing in a bi­par­ti­san man­ner to bar con­victed do­mes­tic abusers from ac­cess­ing firearms. Congress fol­lowed up on this ef­fort by au­tho­riz­ing grant pro­grams that pro­vide states with fed­eral fund­ing to up­load records into NICS. While states have made sig­nif­i­cant progress in re­cent years in the re­port­ing of men­tal health records into NICS, there is still more work to do to en­sure that states are also pri­or­i­tiz­ing the re­port­ing of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence records, ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease is­sued by Costello and Rice.

“Our back­ground check sys­tem is only as strong as it is com­pre­hen­sive, and this leg­is­la­tion will help keep our com­mu­ni­ties safe by mak­ing sure of­fi­cials have the tools and re­sources they need to re­port the in­for­ma­tion that makes these records com­plete, said Costello in a press re­lease.

“When do­mes­tic abusers can eas­ily buy guns, their part­ners too of­ten end up dead — that’s what hap­pens when our back­ground check sys­tem lacks com­plete, up-to-date do­mes­tic vi­o­lence records from ev­ery state in the coun­try,” said Rice. “Our bi­par­ti­san bill cre­ates com­mon-sense in­cen­tives for states to im­prove their re­port­ing of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence records so that we can en­force the law, keep guns out of the hands of do­mes­tic abusers, and save lives.”

The leg­is­la­tion has re­ceived sup­port from mul­ti­ple ad­vo­cacy or­ga­ni­za­tions work­ing to end do­mes­tic vi­o­lence:

“Those of us who work with sur­vivors know that there are fac­tors that in­di­cate a like­li­hood for fa­tal vi­o­lence,” said Mary Kay Ber­nosky, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Safe Berks. This bill “al­lows law en­force­ment to ac­cu­rately record these fac­tors and use them to keep firearms out of the hands of those most likely to use them to kill a part­ner or spouse. We need to pro­vide law en­force­ment with the tools they need to keep fam­i­lies safe.”

Ryan Costello

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