Gabby Giffords, Mark Kelly and New Hampshire Leaders Announce New Bipartisan “Granite State Coalition for Common Sense” to Urge Elected Officials to Act on Reducing Gun Violence

December 15, 2015 – Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, the Co-Founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions, joined with New Hampshire leaders today to announce a new bipartisan coalition, the “Granite State Coalition for Common Sense,” which will advocate for commonsense change that makes communities safer from gun violence. In its work, the coalition’s members – which include leaders from across sectors and parties, as well as gun owners – will urge their elected officials to advance policies that can prevent gun tragedies while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans to own and use firearms.

The announcement of the new bipartisan coalition came just a day after the third anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. More than 30,000 Americans have been murdered with guns since the massacre.

The coalition’s leaders will fight for commonsense solutions that will help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, like:

  • Closing the loopholes in our gun laws that let felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill buy guns in New Hampshire without a criminal background check;
  • Ensuring lawmakers and stakeholders have the resources and training they need to prevent gun violence and strengthen existing laws; and,
  • Strengthening our federal criminal background checks system by making sure it contains states’ records.

Members of the Granite State Coalition for Common Sense include:

  • Officer Bill Barry, Auburn Police Department
  • Dean Crombie, Chief of Police for Somersworth
  • Lew Feldstein, Former Chief Operating Officer of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and Former Chair of Standing Up for NH Families
  • Liz Hager, Former Republican Member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives
  • John Kacavas, Former U.S. Attorney for New Hampshire
  • Patricia LaFrance, Former Hillsborough Attorney
  • Sylvia Larsen, Former President of the New Hampshire State Senate
  • Dr. Susan Lynch, Former First Lady of New Hampshire
  • Terie Norelli, Former Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives and President of the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation
  • Deb Pignatelli, Former Executive Councilor
  • Joseph Plaia, Commissioner-elect, Portsmouth Police Commission
  • Alex Ray, Owner of the Common Man Family of Restaurants
  • John Rist, Trustee, University System of New Hampshire and Former Member of the New Hampshire State Board of Education
  • Rick Russman, former Republican Member of the New Hampshire State Senate

“Stopping gun violence takes courage – the courage to do what’s right, and the courage of new ideas. I’ve seen great courage when my life was on the line,”  said Congresswoman Giffords in a speech at this morning’s announcement. “Now is the time to come together – to be responsible! Democrats, Republicans – everyone.”

“Gabby and I grateful for the chance to join with so many bipartisan leaders from across the Granite State to fight for safer communities and some commonsense change,” said Captain Kelly, a Navy combat veteran and former NASA astronaut. “We have a gun violence problem in our country that makes us stand out in the worst of ways. We have to do better – and we can. We’ve all seen the bumper sticker: ‘Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.’ It’s true. And that’s exactly why our leaders need to do more to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners like Gabby and me. It’s the responsible thing to do.”

“As a physician, I value data – and the data is clear that the number of fatalities and injuries from gun violence has reached epidemic proportions. I have also unfortunately seen first-hand the impact that gun violence has on the public health here in New Hampshire and around our country. That’s why I believe that it is time for some commonsense action,” said former New Hampshire First Lady Dr. Susan Lynch. “One reason why we have a gun violence problem is because we have weak laws. Medical professionals and responsible gun owners here in the Granite State know how dangerous firearms can be in the wrong hands. It’s time for our lawmakers to close the loophole that lets dangerous people get guns.”

“As a gun owner and law enforcement officer, I have a deep respect for what firearms can do in the hands of responsible, law-abiding people. But I also know all too well what guns can do when they fall into the wrong hands. And right now, it is far too easy for dangerous people like felons and domestic abusers to buy a gun. That puts our law enforcement officials at risk,” said Dean Crombie, the Chief of Police for Somersworth and a gun owner. “I’m joining in this fight with Congresswoman Giffords, Captain Kelly, and many of my fellow Granite Staters because I know we don’t have to choose between making our communities safer places to live and protecting the rights of responsible, law-abiding people.”

“In my career as a state and federal prosecutor, I had a front row seat not only to the sad reality of gun violence in the Granite State, but to how dangerous people exploited the gaps in our laws to get their hands on guns. It makes no sense that our laws give felons, abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill the option of buying a gun without a background check,” said John Kacavas, former United States Attorney for New Hampshire.

“We have a gun violence problem in our state and country and addressing it requires some commonsense, bipartisan solutions, like closing the loopholes that make it far too easy for dangerous people to get guns. Doing everything we can to keep guns out of the hands of people who want to do harm shouldn’t be a partisan idea – it’s just a commonsense idea,” said Rick Russman, a former Republican Member of the New Hampshire State Senate. “I’m honored to join Congresswoman Giffords and Captain Kelly to call for some responsible changes to our laws that will make New Hampshire a safer place to live.”

“As a business owner here in the Granite State. I want my customers to feel safe, and I want to know our leaders are doing everything they can to reduce the gun violence in our community. I’m honored to host Gabby, Mark, and my fellow Granite Staters today for the launch of this new and badly needed effort to build safer communities,”  said Alex Ray, owner of the Common Man family of restaurants.

“I’m honored to join with Gabby Giffords, Mark Kelly and so many other bipartisan leaders from government, business, and law enforcement to call for some commonsense changes to our laws that will help protect communities,” said Liz Hager, a former Republican Member of the New Hampshire State House. “Today is yet more proof that Republicans and Democrats can come together around responsible solutions that help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and make our communities safer. That’s what this new effort is all about.”

“I’ve been working to protect Granite State communities my entire career. And I’ve seen the dangers to women and children that firearms pose when they fall into the hands of dangerous people like domestic abusers and stalkers. That’s one reason why half of all domestic violence-related deaths in New Hampshire involve a firearm,” said Terie Norelli, former Speaker of the New Hampshire State House and President of the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation. “Our leaders must do more to keep guns out of abusers’ and stalkers’ hands.”

ABOUT GUN VIOLENCE IN THE UNITED STATES

Americans are nearly 20 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than people in other peer countries. [Journal of Trauma, Injury, Infection, and Critical Care, 2011]

Each year, 12,000 Americans are murdered with a gun. Every day, 88 Americans are killed with guns, and nearly 12,000 Americans are murdered with a gun each year. [WISQARS Injury Mortality Reports, 1999-2010]

The number of shootings is on the rise. While the number of gun murders in the U.S. has remained constant, the number of shootings has been increasing. The number of non-fatal gunshot wounds rose more than 50 percent between 2001 and 2013. [Everytown for Gun Safety, 2014]

ABOUT GUN VIOLENCE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

Someone is killed with a gun in New Hampshire every three days. [Center for American Progress & Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 2014]

Half of all domestic violence-related deaths in New Hampshire involve a firearm. According to the New Hampshire Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board, more than 50 percent of all homicides from 2000 to 2010 were cases of domestic violence involving family members or intimate partners. Almost half—48 percent—of these victims of domestic violence were killed with guns. [Center for American Progress & Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 2014]

ABOUT GUN LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES AND IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

In New Hampshire, Criminal Background Checks Are Only Required at Licensed Firearms Dealers – Not Online and at Gun Shows. Today, under federal law, certain categories of dangerous individuals, known as prohibited purchasers, such as convicted felons, domestic abusers and some dangerously mentally ill people, are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms. Under the Brady Act, when a person attempts to purchase a gun from a licensed dealer, the dealer runs a check through the NICS system to determine whether a potential buyer is prohibited from purchasing firearms. If information in NICS indicates that a person is prohibited from legally purchasing a firearm, the dealer must deny the sale. But these federal NICS background checks are not required for private sales – which include sales conducted at gun shows and online. Because New Hampshire law follows federal law, criminal background checks are required only at federally licensed firearms dealers, but not for private sales, including online and at gun shows. [Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 2012]

Where They Are Required, Federal Background Checks Are Quick and Effective. Ninety-one percent of background checks are completed instantaneously, and since the NICS system has been in place, over 196 million background checks have been conducted, and over two million firearms sales to prohibited purchasers have been denied. [Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2014] [Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2010]

States That Require Criminal Background Checks for All Handgun Sales Have Seen Drops in Their Gun Violence Rates. In the seventeen states and the District of Columbia that already require background checks for all handgun sales, 46 percent fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners, there are 48 percent fewer firearms suicides and 48 percent fewer law enforcement officers are shot to death by handguns. Conversely, after Missouri repealed its law in 2007 that required background checks on all handgun sales, gun homicides increased by 25 percent in the state. [Everytown for Gun Safety, 2015] [Everytown for Gun Safety, 2015] [Everytown for Gun Safety, 2015] [Webster, Crifasi, Vernick, 2014]

89% of New Hampshire Voters – Including 81% of New Hampshire Republicans – Support Criminal Background Checks for All Gun Sales. According to research conducted in December 2015, 89 percent of New Hampshire voters, as well as 81 percent of New Hampshire Republicans, support requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales. [Public Policy Polling, 2015]

85% of Americans Support Criminal Background Checks for All Gun Sales. According to research conducted in August 2015, 85% of Americans – including 79% of Republicans – support requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales. In research conducted in 2014, 92 percent of gun owners said they supported requiring background checks for all gun sales. [Pew Research Center, 2015] [Quinnipiac, 2014]