WASHINGTON, D.C. — Gun violence will not be solved with the overdue mantra of thoughts and prayers. This week, Rep. Raul Ruiz, M.D., D-Palm Desert, signaled that mightily with his votes in Congress.

Ruiz voted for the Bipartisan Background Checks Act and the Enhanced Background Checks Act, historic legislation that would expand criminal background checks for individuals purchasing a firearm. The bipartisan bills are the first in decades to address the epidemic of gun violence in the United States.

“After years of inaction and unchecked gun violence, Congress is finally taking action to prevent gun violence and save lives,” Rep. Ruiz said in a prepared statement. “Together, these historic bills will require background checks for all gun purchases and close dangerous loopholes to ensure criminals, terrorists, and individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others don’t get a gun. As an emergency doctor, I can still feel the agony and pain that the mothers expressed after I had to tell them their loved one is gone because of gun violence. I’m glad we got this done, and I urge the Senate to pass this bill immediately.”

Jimmi Thomas, a local group leader for Coachella Valley Moms Demand Action, praised the Congressman.

“Thank you for meeting with volunteers from the Coachella Valley Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America Group to discuss ways to reduce Gun Violence,” Thomas said in a prepared statement.  “Moms is not anti-gun, we are pro-gun safety: promoting sensible gun legislation and the reduction of both intentional and unintentional gun violence. We also want to thank the Congressman for co-sponsoring H.R.8 The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 and voting yes on that bill.”

By way of background, Dr. Ruiz invited Dori Smith, a local volunteer leader of the California chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, to join him as his guest for President Obama’s 2016 State of the Union Address. In June of 2016, Dr. Ruiz participated in a historic ‘sit-in’ with other Democratic Members of Congress following the Orlando massacre at the Pulse night club, demanding that the Republican majority in the House allow a vote on common-sense gun violence prevention legislation.

This week, Dr. Ruiz voted for and the House of Representatives passed H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, legislation that takes several steps to prevent gun violence by expanding criminal background checks, closing the gun show loophole, and requiring background checks for private transactions and online purchases of firearms. The bill received bipartisan support, passing the House by a vote of 240 to 190.

In addition, Dr. Ruiz voted for H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act, which would extend the period of time federal authorities have to complete a background check before approving a gun sale from 3 to 10 business days. Currently, the 3-day rule allows gun purchases to be automatically approved if a background check has not been completed within the 3-day window, allowing thousands of guns to be sold without completed background checks. The bill received support from Democrats and Republicans.

The bills are the first to address gun violence since 1994, when Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed a bill to ban the purchase of assault weapons – a temporary prohibition that expired in 2004.