I believe the government must do more to prevent senseless acts of violence, whether they be mass shootings in public places or interpersonal abuse in private homes. As the father of a daughter and brother of six sisters, I believe we must fight violence against women in all its forms. I have a strong record as a Congressman of standing against domestic violence, sex trafficking, elder abuse, and abuse of the disabled. I have also demonstrated consistent support for common sense gun laws to end the scourge of gun violence. Everyone deserves to live in safety and security.
As a Congressman, I consistently stood on the side of victims of abuse and neglect. I introduced and worked hard to ultimately pass the first Elder Abuse Victims Act in 17 years. The law aimed to protect America’s seniors, including those suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, from physical, mental, and financial abuse by addressing and correcting failures in state elder abuse policies, establishing a Center for the Prosectution of Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation, and funding Elder Abuse Victims’ Advocacy Grants, among other provisions. Unfortunately, the Senate failed to take action, and no similar legislation has passed in either house of Congress in the ensuing decade. With an estimated 4 million victims of elder abuse every year, it is time for the U.S. government to act.
I also worked hard in Congress to fight abuse of people with disabilities. I co-sponsored and voted for legislation to extend federal hate crimes laws to cover crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived disability, and to provide assistance to state and local law enforcement to streamline the investigation and prosecution of those crimes. People who prey upon the most vulnerable among us are the lowest of the low and deserve to punished to the fullest extent of the law.
I was proud, every year I served in Congress, to vote to fund programs that combat violence against women, provide transitional housing assistance for victims of domestic violence, operate rape crisis centers for emergency treatment of women, provide specific grants for rural law enforcement to better address domestic violence, and reduce violence against women on college campuses.
I co-sponsored the International Violence Against Women Act of 2010 to permit the United States to form regional cooperative arrangements with 5 to 20 other countries to prevent sex trafficking and sexual violence. I also supported legislation to direct the Secretary of State to establish within the State Department an Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking. I voted every year to fully fund the Justice Departments Office on Violence Against Women which oversees a range of programs to help victims of domestic violence, rape, stalking, and human trafficking.
After meeting with many victims of domestic and sexual violence in my home district in Pennsylvania, I worked hard to establish a shelter for women and children victims of abuse in Upper Darby to ensure their safety as they transition from a tragic situation to a new life.
I believe in the right to bear arms, but I am also a strong proponent of common sense gun laws, such as closing the “gun show loophole” (which allows people to avoid background checks by buying guns at gun shows and conventions or from other “private sellers”), closing the “gun kit” or “ghost gun” loophole (which allows people to buy portions of guns that are easy to assemble into functioning firearms), and creating a more effective national background check system, including by enabling states to add felons, domestic abusers, and other violent criminals to the background check database.
I also believe we must once again ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Having served in the armed forces for over thirty years, I know what weapons of war are, and I know that they do not belong in American communities. The horrifying mass shootings of recent years should be all the proof our lawmakers need to finally take action.
Guns kill tens of thousands of Americans every year, not only by in homicides, but in suicides and accidents as well — in fact, more US gun deaths each year are by suicide than homicide. Compared to other industrialized countries, the US is in a league of its own when it comes to deaths by guns. No other country comes close. Given these facts, it is incumbent on the government to seek creative solutions to our epidemic of gun deaths. We need to repeal the Dickey Amendment, a law preventing the Centers for Disease Control from making recommendations on how to deal with the public health threat of guns. And the changes I propose to our healthcare system described in the Healthcare portion of my “Plan for America” would dramatically improve access to mental health services for all Americans, which itself should help to reduce gun deaths.
Lawmakers owe it to the American people to explore every possible remedy to the crisis of gun violence in our country. We must find a way to reduce the staggering number of gun deaths each year while still maintaining our 2nd Amendment rights. It’s long past time we got serious.