Acts of violence across the country devastate families and communities. In some cases, firearms are used to terrorize innocent people. As I visit with Iowans across the Third District every month, I continue to hear from law enforcement about ways to improve safety. I hear from parents concerned about their children. And I hear from every day citizens wanting to ensure we’re working together to keep our communities safe.

Earlier this month, I and some of my colleagues introduced the bipartisan Protecting our Communities and Rights Act. This legislation can help to curb gun violence while also protecting our Second Amendment rights. From individual instances to mass shootings, there were red flags which should have been acted upon so law enforcement and family members could intervene before these tragedies happened.

The federal government can partner with states and local governments to improve safety and curb violence in our communities. The bipartisan bill we introduced in Congress helps empowers states by helping families and law enforcement prevent those who are a risk to themselves and others from accessing firearms. The bill provides grants and help to states which enact “red flag” laws, also known as gun violence restraining orders, which allow family members to petition a court for an immediate hearing and due process to determine if another family member is an imminent threat to themselves or others because of behaviors and actions they exhibited. These grants help states with the administration and enforcement of “red flag” laws should a state choose to implement them.  

If a court, through due process and evidentiary standards, determine someone is in fact a possible serious threat to themselves or others, law enforcement can prevent the individual from accessing firearms for a defined period of time set by the courts and receive help they may need.

This is just the latest step I’ve taken after listening to those in the Third District. Earlier this year, Congress passed and the President signed into law, the STOP School Violence Act. This new law, which I voted for, provides funding for schools to purchase additional security measures to keep our students and teachers safe, such as hiring a school resource officer or purchasing security equipment, such as locks, monitoring cameras, and metal detectors. The bill also provides funding for mental health and behavioral counseling for students. 

This legislation passed by Congress and signed by the President also helps fix the National Instant Background Check System. Unfortunately, we’ve learned people who aren’t legally permitted to obtain a gun were able to purchase them because the data was not put into the background check system. 

And last week, I joined the Des Moines Police Department as they debuted their new equipment to help solve crimes involving guns. The National Integrated Ballistic Information Network will allow the police department to process ballistic evidence in 24-48 hours instead of months, and will help aid in solving and preventing violent crimes involving firearms.

This network and new equipment was made possible through a grant from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). I have been supportive of the ATF’s funding and now Iowa has access to this network to help solve crimes from gun violence and help make our communities safer. 

I have always said I support commonsense and responsible legislation to address gun violence while also protecting the Constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. We must all do better to ensure our communities and fellow Iowans are safe, and I have voted for and introduced this bipartisan legislation to do so. By working together across the aisle and partnering with local law enforcement and states, we can help save lives, make our communities safer, and uphold our Constitutional rights.

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