Stefanik bemoans ‘epidemic of hate’

After mass shootings, congresswoman calls for strengthening background checks, praises president's remarks

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik speaks in July. (Provided photo — Sydney Shaefer, Watertown Daily Times)

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik said she was encouraged to hear President Donald Trump condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy in comments following two mass shootings over the weekend.

Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, sent out a news release Monday reacting to the shootings that killed a total of 31 people in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, over the weekend.

“I know that Americans across the country mourn with all our hearts as the nation reels from these evil and heinous acts in El Paso and Dayton. We need to work together to lift our country above this epidemic of hate,” Stefanik said in a news release. “Thank you to first responders, law enforcement, health officials, blood donors and everyday civilian heroes who responded as quickly as possible to save lives.

Stefanik pointed to her support for legislation involving criminal background checks as well as for bills to ban bump stocks on guns and improve school safety.

“This evil must be eradicated. I also echo the president’s desire to strengthen existing background checks for criminals and the mentally ill. States and towns must be sharing the same database to ensure that no one falls through the cracks,” she stated.

Stefanik said she has supported legislation to expand information sharing within background checks through the Fix NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) bill.

This legislation would have required federal agencies to establish a domestic abuse and violence prevention initiative as a priority and coordinate a plan for states to submit mental health and criminal history records to NICS. It would have also required that NICS notify local law enforcement when a gun is transferred to another person that has been determined to be prohibited from owning one, according to www.govtrack.us.

Stefanik said she also co-sponsored the legislation to ban bump stocks and bills to improve school safety, including the STOP School Violence Act and Securing Our Schools Act of 2018.

The Stop School Violence Act would have appropriated $50 million per year to help schools develop threat assessments and improve school security. The Securing Our Schools Act of 2018 would have created a pilot program to allow the Department of Justice to award one-year grants for local education agencies to purchase and install devices to notify law enforcement immediately if there was an emergency, according to www.govtrack.us.

Fix NICS was part of an omnibus bill signed into law, and the Stop School Violence and Securing Our Schools bills were also signed into law.

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