July 12, 2016

Sen. Edward J. Markey and Congressman Ruben Gallego Introduce New Legislation to Prevent Accidental Gun Deaths

Washington, DC – Today, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) introduced new legislation that would ensure that powerful, military-style weapons don’t end up in the hands of children.

The Help End Assault Rifle Tragedies (HEART) Act will prohibit children under the age of 16 from possessing or firing machine guns and assault weapons, including at gun shows and shooting ranges.

Sen. Markey and Congressman Gallego were joined by the four children of Charles Vacca, a firearms instructor who was killed in Arizona in 2014 by a nine-year-old who lost control of an Uzi submachine gun. A similarly tragic incident occurred in 2008 in Westboro, Massachusetts when an eight-year-old child accidentally killed himself while firing an Uzi at a gun show.

Reps. Mike Honda (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Robin Kelly (D-IL), Michael E. Capuano (D-MA), and Katherine Clark (D-MA) are original co-sponsors of the House bill.

Sen. Edward J. Markey said, “The small hands of children and big power of machine guns are a deadly combination.The HEART Act is simple and straightforward: It prohibits the transfer of a machine gun or semiautomatic weapon to anyone under the age of 16. Not at a gun range, not at a gun show, not while hunting, not anywhere, anytime. Assault weapons are weapons of war and should not be allowed in the hands of children. I thank Rep. Gallego for his partnership on the HEART Act and look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this important bill.”

Rep. Ruben Gallego said, “At a time when our country has never been more divided on the issue of guns – and at a time when our society has never owned more firearms – I believe that there is room for bipartisan compromise in working to ensure that Americans practice responsible gun ownership at all times. Incidents across the country have proven that kids and powerful firearms are a dangerous and tragic mix. This bill is a common sense step to prevent more families like the Vacca family from having to mourn the loss of loved ones in preventable accidents involving powerful weapons.”

Rep. Mike Honda said, "That a child should not have easy access to machine guns should really be beyond debate. The HEART Act represents the type of common sense legislation the vast majority of the country wants: a real effort to reduce accidental gun deaths while maintaining a reasonable right to own guns for hunting or self defense. It’s time to take these powerful weapons of war out of the hands of children where they too often lead to family tragedy."

The children of Charlie Vacca said, “We are grateful to Senator Markey and Representative Gallego for giving wings to our We Have a Voice movement through the HEART Act. We’re now calling upon kids across the nation and their parents support this brave bill by signing our petition. Kids and assault weapons don’t mix.”