WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) issued the following statement on the need for bipartisan, commonsense solutions to reduce gun violence in America:
"It is no secret that I am a passionate outdoorsman, hunter, and supporter of the Second Amendment. It is my firmly held belief that law-abiding citizens should be able to own firearms for both sport and self-defense. That is not a political statement, it is simply who I am.
"In our efforts to protect the established constitutional right of individual gun ownership though, it is also our responsibility as leaders to support public safety and put in place commonsense protections to ensure that firearms do not find their way into the hands of those that would turn them against our communities. No one should disagree with the foundational principle of protecting our families.
"That is why in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting I joined a bipartisan group of Senators, and the majority of Americans, in supporting legislation to expand background checks to all commercial firearms sales and crack down on illegal gun transactions by explicitly making straw purchasing and gun trafficking federal crimes. Keeping guns out of the hands of people legally prohibited from having them is a way to prevent violence without punishing law-abiding gun owners. That's what background checks do, and having been through the background check process myself on numerous occasions, I know it is not an unreasonable burden on responsible law-abiding gun owners.
"We also know that prioritizing mental health services is another key component to keeping our families safe. I support efforts to aid in the prevention and early identification of mental health conditions and to promote access to appropriate services for children and youth. These are important steps that Democrats and Republicans in Congress agree we must take.
"When I learned of the latest shooting in Oregon at Umpqua Community College, I could not help but once again think of the heartbreak confronting the families impacted by this latest tragedy. But I also began to wonder how many of these 'once again' moments the nation would be forced to endure before Congress mustered enough courage to act. Last time, despite enjoying majority support, even commonsense measures could not surmount the 60-vote threshold needed for U.S. Senate approval.
"We are now in a new Congress and I have to believe that after almost three years of continued gun violence and tragic mass shootings the American people will demand a different result. New Mexicans can count on me to be on their side as we seek to find bipartisan, commonsense solutions to reduce gun violence in our communities, while still respecting our constitutional rights."