WASHINGTON — Congresswoman Elise M. Stefanik has put her name to two different bills in Congress that Republicans say would cut down gun violence and mass shootings in schools, while she rejected a gun control measure brought by House Democrats.
On Tuesday, the Congresswoman, alongside Representatives Richard L. Hudson, Jr., R-N.C, and Carol Miller, R-W.V., introduced the Firearm Proficiency and Training Act, which if passed would create a tax deduction for anyone who takes a certified firearm training course, a concealed carry course, and anyone who purchases gun safety or storage equipment. The taxpayer would be permitted to deduct the full cost of the courses or equipment from their federal tax burden.
The bill has the support of gun rights lobbyists, and supporters say it will incentivize law-abiding Americans to secure their weapons and learn how to operate them safely.
While some states, like New York, require gun safety courses before allowing individuals to purchase handguns or assault-style weapons, many states require no such thing. In a 2018 analysis, the Rand Corporation estimated 61% of American gun owners had taken gun safety courses as of 2015.
“As Democrats rush to push their radical gun control agenda, I am proud to lead the charge in introducing legislation to promote gun safety and training,” Rep. Stefanik said in a statement. “This bill will empower gun owners by incentivizing them to purchase gun safety and storage equipment as well as training and safety courses.”
The Congresswoman has also joined with her Republican colleagues to introduce new legislation they say would help prevent violence and mass shootings in American schools.
The bill, called the STOP II Act, comes after yet another school shooting, this time in Uvalde, Texas, left 19 children between the ages of 9 and 11 and two teachers dead at the hands of an 18-year-old gunman.
The bill, called the STOP II Act as it builds on the 2018 STOP School Violence Act, would devote $7 billion to a grant program that allows schools to pay for additional school resource police officers, mental health guidance councilors, active shooter training and “hardening schools,” where security measures like metal detectors and cameras are installed.
The $7 billion would come from unspent COVID-19 funding, and would also require that any funding set aside this year to rent conference rooms in Washington D.C. to discuss federal education programs be used to support those grants.
The Republican legislators sponsoring this bill said it will help shore up campus safety and mental healthcare safety nets to prevent violence before it starts.
“This legislation will help prevent school violence by equipping schools with better security and training, to keep campuses safe and provide mental health resources to avoid tragedy,” Congresswoman Stefanik said.
Introduced by Rep. Hudson, the legislation has the support of 12 Republican cosponsors, including Rep. Stefanik and Rep. Claudia L. Tenney, R-Utica, who is running for re-election in the recently redrawn 23rd District that includes Watertown and western Jefferson County.
The legislator’s support for this school safety bill comes after House Republicans roundly rejected the Protecting Our Kids Act, which passed the House Wednesday with only five Republican votes.
That legislation, introduced by Rep. Jerrold “Jerry” Nadler, D-N.Y., would raise the age to buy semiautomatic weapons to 21, ban large-capacity magazines, and establish a new front of federal criminal offenses for gun trafficking and illegal gun sales. It would also target “ghost guns,” or guns that lack a serial number to track them.
Cosponsored by 112 House Democrats, the bill passed with the support of only five House Republicans, including Rep. Chris L. Jacobs, R-Orchard Park, who is retiring from his seat at the end of his term after Republicans heavily criticized him for supporting gun control measures.
Jacobs was once planning to run for the Congressional district that covers Watertown, before the second round of New York’s redistricting process this year led him to change his plans and declare his candidacy for a district more focused on Western New York.
That bill, with such little Republican support, is unlikely to pass the Senate, however.
In a statement sent after the vote, Congresswoman Stefanik said she was proud to vote against that legislation, which she said “shreds the Constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans.” She argued the law would have little impact on illegal gun owners, while overwhelmingly punishing law-abiding gun owners. In her statement, the Congresswoman promised to continue opposing Democratic-led gun control measures.
“As far-left Democrats double down on their unconstitutional agenda that shreds our Second Amendment rights, I will continue to stand up for the Constitution and push for solutions,” she said.