Gun tax credit program may save lives
By Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro
If you are a parent or grandparent, the tragedy that occurred in Sandy Hook last month remains almost overwhelming.
It was a slaughter of the innocents perpetrated by a young man with an assault rifle. Within minutes, Adam Lanza had murdered six adults and 20 children in cold blood at the school and devastated his small-town community.
It is hard to witness such a senseless and evil act and not feel a despair of the soul. But, we cannot afford that luxury. Last month, President Barack Obama gave a powerful speech in Newtown in which he asked us: Are we doing enough to protect our children?
The answer, he admitted, is no. And that has to change.
We have to take the common-sense and constructive steps that will help ensure these sorts of tragedies will never happen again. That includes doing everything in our power to prevent guns from falling into the hands of violent criminals, to get dangerous assault weapons off the streets, to improve our mental health system so it properly helps those in need, and to give law enforcement officials the tools they need to keep the public safe.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has set up a commission and Vice President Joseph Biden is leading an executive task force looking into these issues. I look forward to seeing what they come up with when they report because we have a responsibility to act.
In the meantime, a Bethany small businessman has come to me with an idea that I think can help make an important difference in this effort. So Monday, I introduced the Support Assault Firearm Elimination and Reduction for our (SAFER) Streets Act.
This legislation will create a $2,000 refundable tax credit — $1,000 for two consecutive years — to encourage the turn-in of assault weapons to the state police.
By assault weapons, I mean the type of dangerous weapons that were banned until 2004, weapons that are specifically designed to kill dozens of people within mere seconds. I hope and expect this $2,000 tax credit will encourage owners of these dangerous weapons to turn them in to state law enforcement officials.
Let’s be clear. This is not about hunting or even self-defense. There is no reason on Earth, other than to kill as many people as possible in a very short period of time, that anyone needs a gun designed for military purposes.
These are the same type of weapons that were used in Newtown, in Aurora, Colo., and in countless other mass shootings across America. They have been disproportionately used to kill law enforcement officers in the line of duty. One out of every five officers who has died in the line of duty was killed by an assault weapon. And even when they are owned by legal, responsible and trained gun owners, these assault weapons in the home are a recipe for tragedy, as we saw in Newtown.
I also believe we should modernize and strengthen the ban on assault weapons, to close the loopholes used by gun makers in the past, as well as the ban against large capacity ammunition feeding devices.
We need to establish a stronger, more comprehensive system of criminal background checks for all gun purchasers. We must make gun trafficking a federal crime. And we need to ensure better access to quality mental health care, and strengthen programs and funding so that all our communities have mental health resources for those in need.
What happened in Newtown was an abomination. It is something that should not happen in America. We should honor those murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School by doing everything we can to prevent these tragedies in the future. That is something I am resolved to do, and I believe the SAFER Streets tax credit moves us in the right direction.