Gabby Giffords & Mark Kelly Statement on the Fatal Shooting of Two Broadcast Journalists in Virginia During a Live Report

August 26, 2015 – Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, the Co-Founders of the gun violence prevention organization Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), issued the below statement this morning following the fatal shooting of two broadcast journalists with CBS affiliate WDBJ7 live on air during a report from Moneta, Virginia:

“We are horrified to learn that two young journalists were murdered this morning doing the jobs they loved. As they worked on a beautiful summer morning, they were murdered by an armed assailant. While we don’t yet know all the details of what happened this morning, we know that an attack like this on journalists is an affront to the values we all share.”

“Our country has a gun violence problem, and shootings like these are far too common in our country. Many times, they happen behind closed doors, in homes and schools and movie theaters. But this time, the horror unfolded live and on air, for all to see. Our thoughts and prayers are with those whose loved ones were taken from them this morning, with their colleagues at WDBJ7 in Roanoke, and with all Virginians as they mourn this shocking loss.”

DETAILS ON THE SHOOTING AS OF 11:00AM ET

  • Confirmed dead are reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, of the CBS affiliate WCBS, which is based in Roanoke, Virginia.
  • The two victims were shot at approximately 6:45 a.m. Wednesday while doing a live report at the Bridgewater Plaza near Smith Mountain Lake in Moneta, Virginia, according to the Franklin County Sheriff Department.
  • A third person was also injured in the shooting, according to authorities.
  • The suspected shooter remains at large.

Mark Kelly Statement on Harris County Shooter Who Bypassed Background Check by Buying Gun Online

August 12, 2015 – Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, the Co-Founder of the gun violence prevention organization Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), issued the below statement today following new details that the Harris County shooter who killed eight people, including his former domestic partner, her spouse, and six children in their home on Saturday, was prohibited from purchasing a gun and bypassed a criminal background check by purchasing the firearm used in the shooting from a stranger he met online. Captain Kelly’s statement:

“The horrific tragedy that unfolded in Harris County over the weekend is not only a painful reminder of how deadly of a mix domestic violence and guns are, but also how loopholes in our laws make it easy for dangerous people like felons and domestic abusers to get their hands on a gun,” said Captain Kelly. “Our federal laws have loopholes big enough to drive a truck through, and when we give felons and domestic abusers the option to buy a gun without a background check, it makes our communities less safe. That’s why our leaders need to do everything they can to close those loopholes and help keep dangerous people from getting their hands on guns. For those who fight to protect these loopholes that make it easy for dangerous people to buy guns without a background check, we would like to hear what steps they would take to help keep guns out of the hands of convicted felons. Gabby and I will continue to keep our thoughts and prayers with those whose loved ones were taken from them on Saturday, and with the Harris County community.”

BACKGROUND ON THE DEADLY MIX OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE & GUNS

ABOUT BACKGROUND CHECKS

Federal Law Requires Background Checks – But Only at Licensed Firearms Dealers, Not Online and at Gun Shows. In 1993, Congress passed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act into law, making background checks a requirement for federally licensed gun dealers and setting up the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), a system of databases maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 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.

Background Checks Have Blocked Over Two Million Potential Sales to Prohibited Purchasers. 91 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.

States with Background Checks Have Seen Public Safety Gains. In the eighteen 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% fewer law enforcement officers are shot to death by handguns. When Missouri repealed its background check law in 2007 that required background checks on all handgun sales, gun homicides increased by 25 percent in the state.

Gabby’s Statement on a Victory for Common Sense: The Defeat of the Effort to Repeal Background Checks in North Carolina

July 27, 2015 – Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Co-Founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions, issued the below statement this evening following the failure of the gun lobby’s irresponsible effort to repeal background checks in North Carolina’s General Assembly. The victory for common sense and loss for the gun lobby comes after the North Carolina State Senate passed HB 562 without the gun lobby-backed provision removing North Carolina’s current requirement that prospective handgun buyers first pass a background check to get a pistol permit. Congresswoman Giffords’ statement:

”Today, leaders in North Carolina – Republicans and Democrats – stood up for common sense and responsibility. Opening up new loopholes in North Carolina’s laws so that dangerous people like domestic abusers and felons could get a gun with no questions asked would have taken North Carolina backwards – and made its families less safe,” said Congresswoman Giffords. ”Mark and I are grateful to the thousands of Americans for Responsible Solutions supporters in North Carolina who contacted their leaders in Raleigh and urged them to make their communities safer from gun violence.”

Last month, legislators in the North Carolina House of Representative had rejected similar efforts to roll back the state’s background checks laws before sending the legislation to the Senate following Americans for Responsible Solutions’ launch of a targeted TV and digital advertising campaign urging North Carolinians to contact their legislators and urge them to oppose provision.  As part of that advertising campaign, Americans for Responsible Solutions aired a 30-second TV ad titled “Safe” urging North Carolinians to contact their legislators and tell them to oppose HB 562. (Watch “Safe” here.)

Gabby Giffords & Mark Kelly Statement on the Movie Theater Shooting in Lafayette, Louisiana

July 24, 2015 – Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, the Co-Founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions, issued the following statement after the tragic shooting last night at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana that has left three people dead, including the shooter, and many more injured, and that took place only four days after the third anniversary of the massacre at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado:

“It happened again.

“We wish we could say what happened in Lafayette is unthinkable. But it is not.

“Once again, a senseless shooting has destroyed the lives of Americans. And once again, Americans went to a movie theater with friends and loved ones for a casual night of comedy, entertainment and innocent escape, only to have terror, bloodshed, and violence visited upon them.

“The details of exactly what happened last night and why are still unclear, but we know that gun violence has taken more innocent lives, that many of the wounded will have a long road ahead, and that a community’s heart has been tested but will not be broken.”

“We are grateful to the first responders who acted with courage, and we are thinking of the injured and those caring for them. Our hearts, prayers, and thoughts are in Lafayette.”

BREAKING: The Irresponsible Background Checks Repeal Effort in the North Carolina Legislature Is On Its Last Legs

July 23, 2015 – The misguided, irresponsible effort to repeal background checks in North Carolina’s General Assembly is now on its last legs after a vote this morning in the North Carolina Senate Judiciary Committee rejecting a proposed repeal of North Carolina’s background checks laws. The bill now moves to the Senate floor without the repeal language.

Following a TV and digital campaign by Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Navy combat veteran and former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, last month legislators in the North Carolina House of Representatives had rejected efforts to roll back the state’s background check laws before sending the legislation to the House.

“It’s good news we are one step closer to seeing this misguided repeal effort wilt in the summer heat. Once again, legislators in North Carolina stood up the special interests who want to create new loopholes in North Carolina’s laws that make it easier for abusers and felons to get handguns. We know that states where background checks are required on handgun sales, no matter where they’re bought, are safer places to live – and that’s why we know that this repeal effort is irresponsible,” said Peter Ambler, Founder and 501(c)(4) Director of Americans for Responsible Solutions. “We look forward to seeing leaders in the North Carolina Senate follow the Judiciary Committee’s lead and protect background checks – not create new loopholes that let people buy handguns with no questions asked.”

Last month, ARS launched a targeted TV and digital advertising campaign urging North Carolinians to contact their legislators and urge them to oppose legislation repealing North Carolina’s background checks laws.  On Wednesday, ARS began airing a 30-second TV ad titled “Safe”, urging North Carolinians to contact their legislators and tell them to oppose HB 562. (Watch “Safe”here.)

BACKGROUND ON ORIGINAL REPEAL EFFORT

Along with other changes weakening North Carolina’s gun laws, if enacted as proposed, House Bill 562 would have repealed North Carolina’s current “permit to purchase” system, which requires that any prospective handgun buyer pass a background check. Under HB 562, individuals currently prohibited from purchasing or owning guns – including convicted felons, individuals convicted of domestic abuse, and individuals adjudicated mentally ill – would be able to buy a handgun through an unlicensed seller without a background check.

ABOUT BACKGROUND CHECKS

Recent research shows that states that repeal permit-to-purchase laws and weaken background checks see increases in gun homicides. When Missouri repealed a similar permit-to-purchase background check law in 2007 that required background checks on all handgun sales, gun homicides increased by 23 percent in the state. According to a recent study from Johns Hopkins, that change alone resulted in between 55 and 63 additional homicides per year.

BACKGROUND ON GUN VIOLENCE IN NORTH CAROLINA

As of 2010, North Carolina’s gun murder rate was 10 percent higher than the national average. From 2001 to 2010, at least 11,000 people in North Carolina were killed by guns. There is also a lethal connection between gun violence and domestic violence in North Carolina. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one in five of all homicides in North Carolina in 2011 involved family or intimate partner domestic violence, with half of those murders committed with a gun.

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