Thompson lauds Biden’s steps against ‘ghost guns’ – Congressman hopes his background check bill is nextVallejo Times-Herald, by Richard Freedman, April 8, 2021
U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson has long emphasized he’s a Second Amendment believer. He just doesn’t believe some weapons should be legal or purchased without extensive background checks.
So it wasn’t a surprise that the Democratic congressman from St. Helena was thrilled hearing President Biden’s announcement of a series of executive actions to curb what he called an “epidemic” of gun violence across the country at Thursday’s Rose Garden Ceremony.
“Today is a new day and I’m proud to have a president willing to do the tough work needed to help prevent gun violence and save lives,” Thompson said in a statement. “We need action on all fronts, from the President and the Congress, to help keep our communities safe. Gun violence takes thousands of lives each year and costs our country nearly $300 billion each year. It’s an epidemic and we must act to combat it.”
Calling gun violence “a public health crisis,” Biden announced six executive actions, adding that “nothing impinges on the Second Amendment.”
Biden is tightening regulations of buyers of “ghost guns” — homemade firearms that usually are assembled from parts and milled with a metal-cutting machine and often lack serial numbers used to trace them. It’s legal to build a gun in a home or a workshop and there is no federal requirement for a background check.
Another action — more heavily regulating arm braces used to make firing a pistol more accurate — directly relates to the March shooting in Boulder, Colo., where such a device used to kill 10 people.
“Today’s Executive Actions are an important piece of what is needed to get ahead of the curve,” Thompson said in the morning statement. “These actions will better regulate ghost guns which increasingly are being used in gun violence incidents and concealable rifles like the gun used in the Boulder mass shooting. These are actions I have led the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force in asking the president to take.”
The executive actions “are critical steps forward in our work to prevent gun violence. But they cannot be our last steps as more action is still needed. I remain firm in my work to ensure the Senate holds a vote on H.R. 8, my bipartisan bill to expand background checks and save lives. Our work must continue,” Thompson said.
Later Thursday afternoon in a brief phone interview, Thompson reiterated his support of Biden’s actions.
“I’ve been lobbying for this,” Thompson said before catching a flight back to the Bay Area. “I’ve been pushing this ever since the president was elected.”
The Rose Garden event “was very exciting,” Thompson said, attending the ceremony with “a handful of members of Congress, two senators, and I think four House members. There were a number of people who had gun violence prevention groups and a number of those who have lost their children, wives, husbands, loved ones to gun violence.”
Thompson was invited after the ceremony to the Oval Office, where he chatted briefly with Biden.
“I mentioned that the last time I had been to the White House was to have a meeting on gun violence with his (Biden’s) predecessor (Donald Trump), who made all kinds of promises of what he was going to do and how he was going to fix it. By the time I got to my office, the NRA called him and he already reversed his position.”
Thompson hinted that it was a relief working a president good on his word.
“This president not only knows this policy and knows what he is talking about, he’s heartfelt and committed,” Thompson said. “Every victim here (at the ceremony), this president sat down with.”
Biden “has worked with us to find solutions to gun violence,” Thompson said.
A pro-gun organization, The Second Amendment Foundation, sent a press release out Thursday morning, warning the Biden administration “that if it steps over its legal authority with any executive action or order regarding the constitutionally-protected right to keep and bear arms, legal action is a certainty.”
The threatening lawsuit didn’t surprise Thompson.
“That’s what they do,” he said. “There were cops there today who experience violence every day. They’re not for suing. The victims aren’t for suing. Members of Congress who have come forward with solutions weren’t for suing. I don’t think the American people are.”
Thompson said his background check bill headed to the Senate is supported by 90 percent of the public.
If and when it passes the Senate and is signed by the president, “I’m going to jump for joy,” Thompson said. “There should be background checks and not soon enough.”