This week, US Representative Carolyn McCarthy retired after 18 years in office. Congresswoman McCarthy was a tireless champion for smart gun laws throughout her career, sponsoring numerous bills to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, improve safety measures, and limit military-style weapons.
After the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, the deadliest mass shooting in American history, she introduced the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007, which improved the national background check system in order to better prevent the dangerously mentally ill from purchasing firearms, saving untold lives. Unfortunately, there are still gaps in our background check system due to gun shows and other private sales, which Congresswoman McCarthy was an ardent supporter of fixing. (Learn more about how to close these gaps in our toolkit on background checks.)
Congresswoman McCarthy was herself affected by gun violence—her husband was killed and her son injured in the horrific shooting on the Long Island Railroad in 1993 that left six dead and 19 injured. In the aftermath of this tragedy, she began advocating for smarter gun laws, eventually winning a congressional seat in 1996.
We were proud to honor Congresswoman McCarthy at our Anniversary Dinner in 2012 (see a video of her speech here) for her years of courageous leadership to prevent gun violence. We are deeply grateful for her landmark work on this issue and inspired by her refusal to be bullied by the corporate gun lobby. All of us at the Law Center wish her the best of luck in her retirement, and we will continue to fight in her honor for smart gun laws that save lives.