Congressman Mike Thompson to reintroduce background checks on gun purchases

Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords will join Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., to announce the reintroduction of Thompson’s bill to expand background checks on gun buyers, a measure that failed to get a vote in the House last year.

The bill, co-authored by Thompson and Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., does not ban any type of weapons, but would require background checks for all firearms sales, including transactions at gun shows, over the Internet and by newspaper ads.

Giffords was shot in the head at point blank range at a political event in 2011 in Tucson, Ariz., and retired from Congress a year later.

She and her husband, retired Navy captain and NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, co-founded a group called Americans for Responsible Solutions, which advocates expanded background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, terrorists and the dangerously mentally ill.

Kelly joined Thompson shooting clay pigeons and promoting the bill at a Napa gun range in August.

He will participate in Wednesday’s press conference along with Rep. Bob Dold, R-Ill., Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn., and Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y.

“This bill is anti-criminal, and will help keep spouses, kids and communities safe by preventing dangerous people from getting guns,” said Thompson, a hunter and gun owner who is chairman of the House Democrats’ Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.

The background checks bill now has four Republican backers, one more than last year, when it had a total of 189 co-sponsors but died in committee.

Thompson noted Tuesday that 260 House members, including 76 Republicans, voted last year for a record $73 million in funding for the national background check system.

If the King-Thompson bill gets to a vote in the House this year, it will pass, he said.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or On Twitter @guykovner.

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