Gabby, Mark, and Minnesota Leaders Announce New Bipartisan “Minnesota Coalition for Common Sense”

February 25, 2016 – Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, the Co-Founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions, joined with Minnesota leaders today at Augsburg College to announce a new bipartisan coalition, the “Minnesota Coalition for Common Sense.” The coalition’s members – which include leaders from across sectors and parties – will urge their elected officials to advance policies that help keep guns out of the wrong hands and prevent gun tragedies while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans to own firearms.

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 Minnesota law that let felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill buy guns in Minnesota 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 Minnesota Coalition for Common Sense include:

  • Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Co-Founder, Americans for Responsible Solutions

  • Captain Mark Kelly, Co-Founder, Americans for Responsible Solutions

  • The Honorable James Backstrom, Dakota County Attorney

  • Chanda Smith Baker, President and CEO, Pillsbury United Communities

  • Keith Dixon, Superintendent (Ret.), Duluth Public Schools

  • Sarah Dixon, CEO and President, Minnesota Alliance with Youth

  • Jon Halverson, Vice President – International Development, Land O’Lakes, Inc.

  • Chief Ivan Fossen (Ret.), Former Chief of Police, Glenwood Police Department

  • Chief Janeé Harteau, Chief of Police, Minneapolis Police Department

  • Babette Jamison, Executive Director, Women’s Advocates, Inc.

  • Dave Korus, Former Police Commander, St. Paul Police Department

  • Sheriff Ross Litman, St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office

  • Joan Peterson, Co-President, Northland Chapter Brady Campaign; Board Member, Brady Campaign

  • Jennifer Polzin, CEO, Tubman Center

  • Dr. Paul Pribbenow, President, Augsburg College

  • Chief Paul Schnell, Chief of Police, Maplewood Police Department

  • Mary Streufert, Co-President, Northland Chapter Brady Campaign; Co-President, League of Women Voters Duluth

“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 leaders from across Minnesota 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 nation that makes us stand out in the worst of ways. We have to do better. We can – and we must. 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 law enforcement officer in Minnesota, I know all too well what guns can do when they fall into the wrong hands. I’ve seen the aftermath of gun tragedies, and it is not something you forget,” said Chief Paul Schnell, Chief of Police, Maplewood Police Department. “So I’m honored to join this fight with Congresswoman Giffords, Captain Kelly and so many of my fellow Minnesotans because I know we we can do better. I know we can do more to close the loopholes that let felons and domestic abusers get their hands on guns, putting our families and communities at risk. 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.”

“Guns and domestic violence are a deadly, tragic mix. As the first shelter for victims of domestic violence in the nation, we have decades of proof that guns are used to intimidate, threaten, injure and end the lives of victims of domestic violence.   Firearms threaten the safety of women and children 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 Minnesota involve a firearm,” said Babette Jamison, Executive Director, Women’s Advocates, Inc. “Our leaders must do more to make our communities safer.”

“During my 29 years as a prosecutor here in Minnesota, I’ve had a front row seat not only on the adverse impact gun violence has upon Minnesota’s families, but to the barriers prosecutors and law enforcement face in keeping guns out of the hands of criminals,” said James Backstrom, Dakota County Attorney. “The status quo is dangerous – and it is unacceptable. That’s why it’s time for our leaders here in Minnesota to take some steps to keep guns out of the wrong hands.”

“The Minneapolis community needs our leaders to finally do something about the gun violence that is tearing it apart. It is a crisis – one that disproportionately impacts communities of color. We cannot allow these epidemic levels of gun violence to become the new normal. Our leaders cannot allow it, and we are asking them to finally to act to save lives. I am honored to join in this fight for a safer Minnesota,” said Chanda Smith Baker, President and CEO, Pillsbury United Communities.

ABOUT GUN VIOLENCE IN THE UNITED STATES

Each Year, 32,000 Americans Die from Gun Violence. 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]

Americans Are 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]

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 MINNESOTA

Somebody Is Killed with a Gun in Minnesota Every Day.[Center for American Progress & Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence]

Half of All Domestic Violence-Related Deaths in Minnesota Involve a Gun. According to the Minnesota Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board, half of all domestic violence homicide victims in 2012 were killed with guns. Firearms accounted for the murders of 145 women in Minnesota from 2001 to 2010. [Center for American Progress & Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence]

ABOUT GUN LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES AND IN MINNESOTA

In Minnesota, 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 National Instant Criminal Background Check (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 Minnesota 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, 2015]

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]

82% of Minnesotans Support Criminal Background Checks for All Gun Sales. According to research conducted in January 2016, 82 percent of Minnesotans support requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales. [Star Tribune, 2016]

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]

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