ARS Denounces Wisconsin Senate Committee Vote To Eliminate Requirements That Keep Guns Out of Dangerous Hands & Eliminate Gun Free School Zones

September 20, 2017 — Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, issued the below statement today on the Wisconsin Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee’s vote to advance Wisconsin bill S169, a dangerous new proposal that would allow any eligible person to purchase a firearm and carry concealed handguns in public without a permit and eliminate the ban on guns in K-12 schools.

Nico Bocour, State Legislative Manager, Americans for Responsible Solutions:

“By advancing this reckless bill, the Wisconsin Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee is sacrificing the safety of Wisconsin’s students, teachers and communities in order to further the gun lobby’s dangerous agenda. The bill they just passed will make it easier for dangerous people to carry loaded, concealed firearms in public places – like movie theaters, parks and shopping malls – without a permit while making it harder for police to keep our communities safe. The bill is so extreme that it would eliminate the current ban on guns in K-12  schools, making it easier for dangerous people to bring loaded guns into classrooms and playgrounds. We urge the Wisconsin Senate to defeat this dangerous bill.”

About Permitless Carry

Currently, Wisconsin generally prohibits any person from carrying a handgun concealed in public without a concealed handgun licence. S169 would repeal Wisconsin’s existing concealed carry permitting system, which would make it significantly harder for law enforcement to identify prohibited people, like felons and domestic abusers, who are illegally carrying guns in public. The carrying of concealed weapons increases the risk that everyday disagreements will escalate into shootouts, especially in places where disputes frequently occur—in bars, at sporting events, and in traffic. Permissive concealed carry laws pose a serious threat to public safety and violate the shared expectation that public places will be safe environments free from guns and gun violence.

About Guns In Schools:

School shootings are so shocking because schools are generally safe havens from the violence that is so frequent elsewhere in this country. Laws establishing gun-free school zones have significantly reduced gun violence in these areas—school associated student homicide rates decreased dramatically after the enactment of federal laws prohibiting guns on the grounds of K–12 schools. Under current law, Wisconsin’s K-12 school buildings and grounds are automatically gun-free. This bill would put the onus on schools to post signs in compliance with specific standards. A school wishing to prohibit guns would be required to post signs at every entrance or access point to an area in a building or on school grounds where guns are prohibited. Any school that fails to follow these requirements accurately would automatically be deemed to allow guns on the property, putting kids at risk. Gun lobby efforts to allow guns into schools are dangerous and counterproductive to public safety. Read more about the dangers of guns in schools here.

ARS Applauds The Rhode Island Legislature For Advancing Lifesaving Bill That Would Help Prevent Domestic Abusers From Possessing Firearms, Urges Governor Raimondo To Sign The Bill

September 20, 2017 — Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, issued the below statement applauding the Rhode Island Legislature for advancing a commonsense bill, the “Protect Rhode Island Families Act (HB 5510),” which prohibits people subject to domestic violence protective orders from possessing firearms and establishes a process for domestic abusers to physically relinquish their firearms.

Nico Bocour, State Legislative Manager, Americans for Responsible Solutions:

“This week, leaders in Providence listened to local advocates and voted to protect Rhode Island families and neighbors by advancing a proposal that will close the dangerous gap in state law that gives domestic abusers easy access to firearms. This positive step forward will help keep guns out of dangerous hands and will save lives. We urge Governor Raimondo to sign this responsible legislation and add Rhode Island’s name to the growing list of states that have passed legislation that protects women and their families from gun violence.”

About The “Protect Rhode Island Families Act”

This bill would strengthen and improve enforcement of Rhode Island’s laws regarding domestic abusers’ access to firearms by:

  • Prohibiting individuals from acquiring or possessing guns if they have been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor that involved the use or threatened use of force, or the threatened use of a dangerous weapon, against a family or household member. Unlike federal law, Rhode Island does not currently prohibit domestic violence misdemeanants from possessing or acquiring guns. In fact, the state only acted last year to prohibit individuals convicted of domestic violence offenses punishable as felonies. This bill would close that gap and also extend this new prohibition to individuals convicted of cyberstalking or cyber harassment offenses under RI law, and to individuals who have been convicted of a misdemeanor for knowingly violating a domestic violence protective order.

  • Strengthening existing relinquishment procedures for abusers. Current Rhode Island law only authorizes courts to prohibit abusers subject to a domestic violence protective order from accessing or acquiring firearms.

About Rhode Island’s Gun Laws

Rhode Island has consistently been a national leader in gun violence prevention, regularly scoring high marks in the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence’s annual Gun Law State Scorecard. Rhode Island requires a background check prior to the transfer of a firearm between individuals not licensed as firearms dealers and requires firearms dealers to obtain a license, and handgun purchasers to first obtain a safety certificate. The state also requires firearm owners to report the loss or theft of their firearms.

Learn more about gun laws in Rhode Island here.

ARS Calls On Ed Gillespie To Answer Public Safety Questions

September 19, 2017 — In advance of tonight’s second gubernatorial debate, Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC, the gun safety organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband Captain Mark Kelly, called on Ed Gillespie to answer questions about his unknown record on public safety.

Peter Ambler, Executive Director, Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC:

“At a time when over 900 Virginians are dying from gun violence every year, Virginia voters are looking to support leaders who will keep guns out of dangerous hands and make Virginia communities safer from gun violence. While Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam continues to make gun violence prevention a central issue of his campaign, Ed Gillespie continues to tout his National Rifle Association endorsement, further showing he is outside the mainstream. What remains unclear is what Ed Gillespie had to promise in order to receive that endorsement. As governor, would he eliminate gun-free school zones and serve as a rubber stamp for the gun lobby’s dangerous agenda? At tonight’s debate, we hope Ed Gillespie will answer the important public safety questions that are on Virginia voters’ minds.”

5 Unanswered Questions About Ed Gillespie’s Position On Gun Safety

    1. As governor, would Ed Gillespie protect the loopholes that let felons, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill buy guns without a background check — a loophole that 88 percent of Virginians favor closingIn 2014, the National Rifle Association stated that Ed Gillespie “opposes the so-called Obama-Bloomberg ‘universal’ background check system that would criminalize the private transfer of a firearm between life-long friends and many family members.” 

    2. [Source: Since deleted NRA web page]As governor, would Ed Gillespie oppose strengthening Virginia’s gun trafficking laws? Virginia has become known as a breeding ground for gun traffickers, largely fueled by individuals who legally purchase guns on behalf of those who cannot pass a background check. Efforts to repeal Governor Wilder’s attempts at combatting the state’s gun trafficking problem have made Virginia less safe. Earlier this year, two dozen people, many of whom were from Virginia, were arrested for trafficking over 200 firearms to New York.

    3. As governor, would Ed Gillespie protect the loopholes that give domestic abusers easy access to firearms? In 2012, over 100 women were killed in Virginia by a current or former domestic partner. Many of these domestic violence-related homicides involved firearms. Unlike federal law, existing Virginia law does not prohibit individuals convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors from possessing firearms or ammunition.

    4. As governor, would Ed Gillespie support allowing guns in schools? Federal and state laws ensuring that schools are gun-free zones have helped make K–12 schools even safer, significantly reducing gun violence in these places. School-associated student homicide rates decreased after the federal laws restricting guns within 1,000 feet of schools were adopted in the early 1990s. Despite the evidence that gun-free zones make our schools safer, the gun lobby wants to arm visitors, teachers and faculty at elementary, middle and high schools and to allow college students to possess guns on campus, which will only lead to more gun deaths and injuries, not less.

    5. As governor, would Ed Gillespie oppose legislation that empowers law enforcement and families to remove firearms from individuals in crisis? Over the past three years, a growing list of states with strong traditions of gun ownership have passed Extreme Risk Protective Order (ERPO) laws that create a court-ordered mechanism for family members to work with law enforcement to temporarily prevent access to firearms for at-risk individuals. Research shows that people are more likely to die by suicide if they have easy access to firearms. ERPO laws can prevent suicidal individuals from accessing guns during a crisis, which can help prevent gun violence tragedies and save lives.

 

 

Citing his longstanding commitment to responsible gun violence prevention policies, Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC endorsed Lieutenant Governor Northam last month. Earlier this year, Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC hosted the first-ever Virginia gubernatorial candidate forum focused exclusively on gun safety issues. The forum, which was attended by Virginia’s two Democratic gubernatorial candidates, provided an opportunity for the candidates to share their views about addressing gun violence in Virginia and their plans to keep families safe.

AVAILABLE FOR COMMENT:

In advance of tonight’s debate, the following gun policy experts are available for comment and interviews on the Virginia gubernatorial race:

  • Peter Ambler, Executive Director, Americans for Responsible Solutions

  • David Chipman, Former ATF Special Agent of 25 years, Senior Advisor at Americans for Responsible Solutions and a Virginia resident

New Poll Shows Minnesota Voters Oppose The Gun Lobby’s Dangerous Agenda

September 18, 2017 — Today, following remarks by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords at the CD2 Fall Classic Fundraiser, in which she urged Minnesota’s leaders to help save lives from gun violence, her gun safety organization, Americans for Responsible Solutions, is releasing the results of a public opinion survey gauging Minnesotan’s views on gun laws. The survey finds that Minnesota voters are overwhelming opposed to gun lobby-backed proposals, such as deregulating the sale of gun silencers and weakening state concealed carry standards. The new poll, also shows the majority of Minnesota voters are more likely to support candidates who favor responsible gun laws.

The poll comes as the House of Representatives prepares to vote on H.R. 3668, a dangerous new bill that includes a dangerous provision to roll back an 80-year-old law that carefully regulates the sale of gun silencers. Silencers give shooters a strategic advantage by disguising the sound of gunfire and masking the muzzle flash. They make it more difficult for people – including law enforcement officers – to recognize the sound of gunfire and locate an active shooter.

“These poll results show that the overwhelming majority of Minnesota voters support the existing requirements for obtaining silencers and carrying concealed firearms, and oppose the gun lobby’s misguided efforts to eliminate the existing system that protects law enforcement, and the communities they serve, from harm,” said Peter Ambler, Executive Director, Americans for Responsible Solutions. “At a time when more police are being assassinated in ambush-killings than in any time during the past two decades, Minnesota voters want leaders who will make their communities and law enforcement safer. We urge Minnesota’s leaders to listen to their constituents, support responsible gun safety measures, and reject any attempts to deregulate silencers and mandate concealed carry.”

Key findings from the survey include:

  • Voters strongly support the existing system that regulates the sale of firearm silencers. For more than eight decades, the government has required anyone purchasing a firearm silencer to pass a background check, pay a small fee, and to register the silencer. These reasonable regulations have resulted in very few silencers being used in crimes. If passed, H.R. 3668The Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act, would have a negative impact on public safety, putting more than 1.3 million silencers up for grabs, making it easier for people – including domestic abusers and criminals – to obtain them. It would also impact the safety of law enforcement officers and make it more difficult for them to do their jobs and keep our communities safe. 81 percent of Minnesota voters, support maintaining the current system that regulates the sale of firearm silencers.

  • Voters strongly support the existing concealed carry permitting system. Currently, Minnesota law requires a permit to carry a handgun in a public place. To get a permit, a person must fill out an application, complete a firearms training and not be listed in the state’s Criminal Gang Investigative Data System. If passed, The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act would force Minnesota to honor the weak or nonexistent concealed carry standards of other states, like Wisconsin, making Minnesota less safe and putting law enforcement at risk. 86 percent of Minnesota voters, support maintaining Minnesota’s permitting system for carrying concealed.

Read the full poll results here.  

The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling on behalf of Americans for Responsible Solutions. The survey, which was commissioned from July 6-9, consists of telephone interviews with 645 Minnesota voters across the state. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 3.9 percent.

The survey’s findings are just the latest example of Minnesotans support for stronger gun laws. Last year, a similar survey of Minnesota voters conducted on behalf of Americans for Responsible Solutions found that 86 percent of Minnesota voters – including 77 percent of Republican voters – support closing the loopholes in current law that allow dangerous people like felons and domestic abusers buy guns without a background check.

Today, Americans for Responsible Solutions also released a new fact sheet demonstrating the dangers of  The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which would force Minnesota to allow unvetted people from out of state to carry loaded, hidden guns in public spaces. It’s important to note that this bill would not create a consistent national requirement across states for who is able to get a concealed carry permit, but instead forces states to recognize the concealed carry laws from other states, including states that have weaker standards for what it takes to carry a loaded, hidden gun in public.

To illustrate the devastating impact this bill would have on Minnesota’s public safety, the fact sheet, compares the requirements to carry concealed in Minnesota to the requirements to carry concealed in Wisconsin state, illustrating how this bill would drastically weaken Minnesota’s laws if enacted.

Read The Factsheet: What Federally Mandated Concealed Carry Reciprocity Would Mean For Minnesota

To arrange a time to speak with a gun violence prevention expert, contact Sean Simons at sean@responsiblesolutions.org.

New Report Highlights The Lethal Nexus Between Guns & Suicide

September 18, 2017 — As our nation struggles to combat a deadly gun suicide crisis that has claimed over 300,000 Americans since 2000, a new report released today in conjunction with National Suicide Prevention Week highlights the lethal nexus between gun access and suicide. Published by Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, and its partner organization the Law Center to Prevent Gun ViolenceConfronting the Inevitability Myth: How Data-Driven Gun Policies Save Lives from Suicide urges lawmakers to combat rising suicide rates by enacting proven lifesaving solutions.  

“The relationship between easy access to guns and suicide rates is undeniable. Guns are only used in 5% of suicide attempts but result in nearly 50% of all suicide deaths,” said Robyn Thomas, Executive Director of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “Too many Americans, including lawmakers, buy into the myth that suicide is inevitable and that there’s nothing we can do to stop it. Our new report gathers research from across the field to prove that prevention is possible. Smart gun laws are already saving lives from suicide in the states with the courage to pass commonsense policies like waiting periods for gun purchases and universal background checks. It’s past time that lawmakers in other states step up, push back against the gun lobby’s bullying, and commit themselves to fighting an epidemic that claims over 20,000 American lives each year.”

Today, half of all suicides result from self-inflicted gunshot wounds. Yet the link between gun access and suicide risk remains dangerously misunderstood, denied, or ignored. While the gun lobby continues to perpetuate the myth that guns play no role in suicide, the reality is the vast majority of people who attempt suicide survive their attempt—unless they use firearms. This new report outlines some of the key steps lawmakers can take to address this public health crisis. These steps include:

  • Passing Universal Background Checks: Federal law prohibits some people with the most severe histories of mental health impairments and suicidality from accessing firearms, including people who have been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital for their own safety. But current loopholes in the background check system let some prohibited individuals acquire guns from unlicensed sellers without a background check in many states.  

  • Passing Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) Laws: Many severely mentally ill individuals fall outside the federal definition of a prohibited purchaser, which enables them to buy guns. An ERPO creates a standard civil court process that empowers families to temporarily remove firearms from their loved ones who are experiencing a mental health crisis.

  • Empowering Voluntary Gun Removals: In some cases, family, friends, therapists, or physicians can successfully convince a struggling person to temporarily hand over their firearms. Lawmakers should encourage or require local law enforcement to develop clear protocols to accept and temporarily store firearms voluntarily relinquished by suicidal individuals.

  • Enacting Waiting Periods: Suicide attempts are typically impulsive, singular episodes that involve little planning. By adding a small but crucial cooling off period for people purchasing guns, lawmakers can help prevent at-risk people from immediately acquiring the most lethal means of suicide during acute crises.

  • Promoting Safe Storage: Gun storage practices and laws blocking minors from purchasing their own guns can be credited with saving many young people’s lives. Laws that make it harder for minors to access unsecured guns and ammunition help to prevent senseless tragedies.

  • Promoting Smart Gun Technology: Smart guns could be a potential game-changer for suicide prevention efforts, particularly among youth. If a child’s parents, neighbors, and extended family members could use the same user-authentication features on their gun as they have on their phone, thousands of young lives would be saved. Lawmakers can help promote these gun safety innovations by enlisting consumer and product safety agencies to test and certify new models’ safety and reliability.

  • Strengthening and Protecting Doctors’ Ability To Save Lives: Doctors and other healthcare professionals are commonly expected to talk with patients about their safety and well-being, and play a critical role in identifying and treating patients at risk of suicide. But a relatively small number of primary care professionals receive suicide prevention training and too few incorporate counseling about suicide and gun safety into their routine patient care. Improving primary care providers’ knowledge and training about suicide prevention is important because these providers come into frequent contact with patients at high risk of suicide.  

Read the full report: Confronting the Inevitability Myth: How Data-Driven Gun Policies Save Lives from Suicide