July 25, 2019

Rush and Duckworth Re-Introduce Bill to Take On Firearm Violence Epidemic


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) re-introduced the Blair Holt Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act today to help reduce firearm violence in Illinois and across the country. This legislation would prohibit unlicensed firearm-ownership and the transfer of firearms without a valid firearms license, as well as direct the U.S. Attorney General to establish and maintain a federal record of sale system and conduct fingerprint-based nationwide criminal background checks—which could have prevented the gunman who killed five people in Aurora, Illinois, in February from acquiring the firearm he used that tragic day.

Rush first introduced this legislation in 2007 and subsequently reintroduced it in 2009, 2013 and 2018. This bill is named after Blair Holt, a Chicago Julian High School honor student who was gunned down protecting his friend when a gunman opened fire while they were riding home from school on a crowded public transit bus.

“The students of the nation are crying out for commonsense gun control laws to help protect them in their schools, homes, and playgrounds,” stated Rush. “We cannot continue to fail them by allowing our streets to be flooded by untold numbers of unaccounted for handguns, assault weapons, and other firearms. Working with Senator Duckworth, I look forward to re-introducing the Blair Holt Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act as a way to honor the memory of this brave student who gave his life protecting a friend from a senseless act of gun violence. I urge all of my colleagues to put politics aside and do what’s right for our nation’s children by supporting this bill and making it the law of the land.”

“I don’t want my daughters to have to grow up in a country that won’t protect them from firearm violence,” Duckworth said. “We owe it to the countless and growing number of firearm violence victims to take action, which is why I’m proud to continue to work with Congressman Rush on this common-sense solution to help prevent firearms from falling into the wrong hands. We will keep pushing until our nation’s schools, offices and public spaces are safe from firearm violence.”

The Blair Holt Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act is modeled in part after the Illinois Firearm Owners Identification Card (FOID) statute and would:

  • Protect the public against the unreasonable risk of injury and death associated with the unrecorded sale or transfer of qualifying firearms to unlicensed individuals.
  • Ensure that owners of qualifying firearms are knowledgeable in the safe use, handling, and storage of those firearms.
  • Restrict the availability of qualifying firearms to criminals, children, and other persons prohibited by federal law from receiving firearms.
  • Require universal background checks for all purchases or transfers of firearms.
  • Facilitate the tracing of qualifying firearms used in crime by federal and state law enforcement agencies.

According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, an average of 310 people are shot with a firearm every day in the United States—100 of whom die. The gunman who killed five individuals in February at Aurora’s Henry Pratt Company was prohibited from having a firearm license because of a prior felony in Mississippi, but was able to slip through the system and his application was accepted. This legislation would address this loophole by requiring individuals seeking a firearm license to submit their fingerprints along with their firearm license application.

Duckworth has introduced and cosponsored a number of pieces of legislation that would help address the firearm violence crisis. In April, she met with Illinois advocates affiliated with Everytown for Gun Safety. She recently joined her Senate colleagues in calling on U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to quickly hold a hearing on legislation to expand federal background checks to all firearm sales. Duckworth also helped reintroduce the Background Check Expansion Act and the Assault Weapons Ban in January after penning an op-ed for the Washington Post on how her experiences as someone who comes from a long line of combat Veterans have shaped her perspective on our nation’s firearm violence epidemic.