(Senate - June 26, 2012)

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[Page S4632]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                               GUN SAFETY

  Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, our Nation reached an important milestone 
over the past few years. In 2010, according to a recent report by the 
Violence Policy Center, motor-vehicle-related fatalities dropped to 
their lowest level in decades, a 72 percent decrease in deaths per 
miles traveled from 1966 levels. But not all of the report's findings 
are encouraging. While our roads have become safer, other aspects of 
American life have become more dangerous. Over that same period, 
firearm-related deaths steadily increased around the country. In fact, 
in 2009, firearm-related fatalities exceeded motor vehicle fatalities 
in 10 States, and current trends indicate that firearm violence 
statistics are only getting worse. Congress has the ability to protect 
lives with commonsense safety legislation, just as it did with motor 
vehicle safety measures. But it has recently lacked the will.
  In the 1960s, this Nation confronted a public health crisis on its 
streets and highways. Over 40,000 people died from motor vehicle 
crashes in 1960 alone. A 1999 study by the Journal of the American 
Medical Association found that from 1960 to 1966 this crash death rate 
ballooned from 49.2 to 55 deaths per billion miles of travel. In 
response, Congress took action by creating the National Highway Traffic 
Safety Administration, NHTSA, which it charged with the responsibility 
of developing and implementing vehicle safety initiatives.
  In the decades since, the NHTSA has spearheaded numerous efforts that 
have saved and will continue to save countless lives. Today, we take 
things like vehicle head rests, energy-absorbing steering wheels, 
shatter-resistant windshields, and seat belts for granted. We expect 
our roads to have clearly delineated lanes, guardrails, and adequate 
lighting. But many of these things would not exist if Congress hadn't 
taken action to protect the public from the dangers of unregulated 
  Just like congressional action made our roads safer, countless 
studies have shown that commonsense gun safety legislation would 
protect our homes, our schools, and our families from violence. 
According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2009, guns killed more 
than 30,000 Americans and injured over 65,000. But despite these 
statistics, Congress has done little to address this public health 
crisis. Today, almost anyone, including convicted felons or the 
mentally ill, can walk into a gun show and buy a firearm from a private 
dealer without any background check. Others can walk into a gun shop 
and walk out with military-style assault weapons and high-capacity 
ammunition magazines, weapons with no sporting purposes.
  Legislation has been introduced in this Congress that would address 
both of these issues and would make our society safer. I am a cosponsor 
of the Gun Show Background Check Act of 2011, S.35, and the Large 
Capacity Ammunition Feeding Devices Act, S.32, bills that would close 
this gun show loophole and prevent the sale of military-style 
ammunition cartridges. Congress should take up and pass these measures. 
We should act, like we did in the 1960s, to protect American lives with 
commonsense safety legislation. The price of doing nothing is just too