Mariel Saez 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement regarding the passage of H.J.Res 40:
“I have always been a strong ally of the disability community and have paid close attention to the concerns many have had with this rule. I’m proud to have been the lead sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. That law opened doors of independence, access, opportunity, and equity for millions of Americans with differing abilities.
“In Congress, Democrats have put forward commonsense gun safety laws that would prevent violent and dangerous individuals with mental disabilities from purchasing firearms. However, the Republican-led Congress would not allow even a vote on such legislation. That’s why President Obama took a series of limited steps within his authority, one of which was this rule, whose aim has been to prevent those who shouldn’t have guns from obtaining them. I believe that, absent action from Congress to enhance our background check system, this rule represents an imperfect but necessary step – imperfect because it stigmatizes the disability community unfairly and needs a stronger appeals process to protect the rights of those who fall under its purview.
“I disagree with the premise that having a mental disability that precludes independent management of one’s finances correlates with a heightened risk of violence. I have read the rule and recognize that it was written in a narrow way so that it applies only to those with ‘severe’ mental illnesses. I’ve had many discussions over the past several days with leaders in the disability community and have grappled with the very difficult questions this resolution poses. Ultimately, given these circumstances, I believe the best step right now is to oppose this resolution, which is why I voted against it.
“I look forward to working closely with the disability community and gun safety advocates to push for Congress to take up legislation that keeps all Americans safe from gun violence while protecting the rights of those with differing abilities.”