U.S. Rep. John Katko wasn't in Washington to vote, but he revealed in a statement Thursday that he opposes a bill advanced by House Democrats to expand background checks for gun purchases.
The House passed the bill Wednesday to extend background checks to internet gun sales and purchases at gun shows. A separate measure was approved Thursday to increase the period from three to 10 days that a gun retailer must wait for a background check to be completed before a firearm sale is completed.
Katko, R-Camillus, missed the votes due to the death of his father. If he was present for the House session Wednesday, though, he would've voted against the background check expansion bill.
"I do believe we need reforms to prevent violent acts and keep our children safe, but the bill that was before the House is overbroad and unlikely to deter gun violence or crime," Katko said.
Katko's stance is in line with many Republicans who raised doubts about the bill's potential impact. Some of his colleagues claimed the measure would make it difficult for gun owners to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
The legislation, named the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, was cosponsored by one of Katko's New York Republican colleagues, U.S. Rep. Peter King. King, R-Seaford, was the lone New York GOP member who supported the bill.
While he opposed the background check bill, Katko said he has reintroduced a measure that would encourage states to adopt "red flag" laws.
Katko authored the bill last year in response to an incident that occurred in Auburn. A city resident contacted a veterans' crisis hotline and threatened to harm themselves, the public and law enforcement if they responded.
Auburn police officers were able to negotiate with the subject and take them into custody without incident.
Under Katko's bill, states that adopt "red flag" laws — extreme risk protection orders that provide a legal process for temporarily removing guns from an individual deemed to be a risk to themselves or others — would receive priority for federal law enforcement grants.
A separate bill reintroduced by Katko would establish a national commission to examine the safety of children and the contributing factors to mass shootings and other violent acts.
"I remain committed to bridging the partisan divide on this issue and will continue to work to advance these bills, and other commonsense reforms, through Congress," Katko said.