May 3, 2015 – At a press conference today at the Minnesota State Capitol, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Co-Founder of the national gun violence prevention organization Americans for Responsible Solutions, joined with Minnesota legislators and members of the Minnesota Coalition for Common Sense to urge the state’s elected officials to take responsible steps to address the state’s gun violence crisis by doing more to keep guns out of the wrong hands and save lives. Congresswoman Giffords and the local leaders also called on the legislature to act to close the loopholes in Minnesota law that allow felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill to buy a gun without a criminal background check.
A Minnesotan is killed with a gun every day.
New research released last week by Americans for Responsible Solutions found that 86 percent of Minnesota voters – including 77 percent of Republicans – support closing the loopholes in the state’s criminal background check laws and requiring background checks for all gun sales.
“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. “Now is the time to come together – to be responsible! Democrats, Republicans – everyone.”
In February, Congresswoman Giffords and her husband, the Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Kelly, joined with local leaders in the Twin Cities to launch a new bipartisan coalition, the Minnesota Coalition for Common Sense, focused on urging the state’s elected officials to do more to reduce gun violence. The coalition’s members – which include leaders from across sectors and parties like community advocates, gun owners, domestic violence prevention advocates and former law enforcement officials – are leading the fight in Minnesota to help keep guns out of the wrong hands and prevent gun tragedies while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans to own firearms. Learn more about the Minnesota Coalition for Common Sense here.
“Guns and domestic violence are a deadly mix in Minnesota. Here in our state, half of all domestic violence-related deaths in Minnesota involve a gun. As the largest provider of domestic violence services in the state of Minnesota, we unfortunately see time and time again how guns are used to threaten, intimidate, and hurt families – and how our weak laws make it too easy for abusers and stalkers to easily get a gun,” said Jennifer Polzin, CEO, Tubman Center, and Advisory Committee Member, Minnesota Coalition for Common Sense. “Our leaders must do more to protect domestic violence survivors, and make our communities safer. We won’t be able to prevent every domestic abuser from getting their hands on a gun, but we must do more to prevent some of these gun tragedies.”
“As a proud gun owner and former 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. I’ve also seen how dangerous people like felons and domestic abusers exploit the huge gaps in our laws to buy a gun without a background check,” said Dave Korus, Commander (Ret.), St. Paul Police Department and Advisory Committee Member of the Minnesota Coalition for Common Sense, at today’s press conference. “So I’m honored to stand with Congresswoman Giffords and so many of my fellow Minnesotans because I know our leaders in St. Paul can do more to keep guns out of the wrong hands. 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.”
“The Minneapolis community needs our leaders to finally do something about the gun tragedies that are 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 seize this opportunity help keep guns out of the wrong hands and save lives,” said Chanda Smith Baker, President and CEO, Pillsbury United Communities and Advisory Committee Member, Minnesota Coalition for Common Sense.
“Law-abiding, responsible Minnesotans have the right to own a gun to protect themselves. But with our freedom to bear arms comes responsibility, too. And that means taking some important steps to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous, irresponsible people like felons and domestic abusers,” said Minnesota State Senator Ron Latz (St. Louis Park), a chief author of the legislation. “That’s why I hope leaders from both parties can come together to stand up for common sense and close the loopholes that let felons, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill buy a gun without a criminal background check.”
‘I recognize this topic drives emotions on both sides of the issue, but we have data supporting the public’s desire for a constructive conversation at the Legislature, and we owe it to families who have lost loved ones to violence and suicide to have one,” said Minnesota State Representative Dan Schoen (Cottage Grove) and a sponsor of legislation to close loopholes in the state’s gun laws. “Nothing in this legislation infringes on any of our rights and is actually designed to protect law abiding citizens. I don’t pretend to think we’re going to stop all violent people from obtaining guns they shouldn’t have, but we have evidence that we can decrease deaths by half in some cases. If you lost a child to gun violence it’s likely you’d ask what else could have we done.”
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]
86% of Minnesotans Support Criminal Background Checks for All Gun Sales. According to research conducted on behalf of Americans for Responsible Solutions in March 2016, 86 percent of Minnesotans – including 77 percent of Republicans – support requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales. Read more about the poll here.
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]