As one of the Newtown parents, Francine Wheeler, said "please help us do something before our tragedy becomes your tragedy."
Our bill will ensure that states get records into the NICS database. We know that if all the proper records were in NICS, as our amendment provides, it would have prevented the Virginia Tech shooting, where the shooter should have been a prohibited purchaser but was not because the records were not in the system.
Our bill will prevent felons from buying guns at gun shows and online. It would also prohibit the types of transactions that al-Qaida suggested in a promotional video. It would require background checks on all transactions online and at gun shows.
MYTH: Our amendment creates or will lead to a national registry.
FACT: Current law prohibits the creation of a national registry. Our bill reiterates the prohibition in three separate places. Our bill also creates a serious penalty for any government employee seeking to misuse records to create a registry: a felony with up to 15 years in prison.
MYTH: Our amendment imposes a universal background check.
FACT: This is not a universal background check. Our bill simply extends existing law to apply to all commercial sales, including and gun shows and online. Private sales will not require background checks.
MYTH: A doctor can put me into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) because I am being treated for PTSD or some other mental condition.
FACT: A doctor cannot put someone into NICS under current law or under our bill. A person has to be adjudicated as mentally ill by a court before being placed into NICS.
MYTH: This amendment would unfairly burden veterans.
FACT: Our amendment provides additional protections for our veterans: This amendment fixes an outdated law and allows active duty service members and their spouses to purchase guns in their home state, as well as their duty station. Current law unfairly restricts them to only buying guns in the state where they are stationed.
This amendment requires notification of veterans who have already been placed in NICS by the Department of Veterans Affairs; some veterans may not even know they are in NICS. Once they are notified, the amendment allows every veteran in NICS to appeal for removal. There are currently over 150,000 veterans in NICS because they have had a fiduciary -- someone to manage their finances -- designated for them.
MYTH: There is no need for a Commission on Mass Violence. Every bill currently before the Senate establishes studies of some sort.
FACT: Our bipartisan commission does not focus solely on guns. Instead, it will examine our culture of mass violence by bringing together acknowledged experts in the fields of firearms, school safety, media, and mental health to look at all the possible root causes of the problem.
As a nation, we must look at all aspects of our culture of violence. We must rethink our treatment of the mentally ill. We must redesign our schools to keep our kids safe. And we must challenge a popular culture that accepts stomach-churning violence in our movies and video games.
MYTH: Why create new background check requirements when current ones aren't even being enforced?
RESPONSE: We agree that more background check violations need to be prosecuted, and our amendment contains language supporting increased prosecutions. We must also acknowledge that background checks do work in keeping guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.
Last year, 88,000 people were denied firearms when they failed a background check. Our amendment will ensure even more people who should not have guns do not get guns.
MYTH: Criminals will never get a background check.
FACT: We don't expect criminals to submit to background checks -- that is why they are criminals, and frankly, this argument is just silly.
Our amendment reduces the number of places where a criminal can buy a gun. Right now, a criminal can buy a firearm at a table or out of someone's car trunk at a gun show, through an online sale from the same state, or through a newspaper ad, because no background check is required for these kinds of sales.
Our bill closes those avenues to criminals, making it harder for criminals to get guns. Period.
I have told my friends at the NRA that they should like this legislation not only because it will keep guns out of the dangerous hands, but it also benefits gun owners in a number of ways.
Those are the facts, and no amount of spin will change them. And in a debate this important to the course of our country, we need to begin with the facts.
This is a slight condensation of a Senate floor speech by Sen. Manchin, D-W.Va., just before conservative senators voted to kill his compromise for gun safety.