GABBY GIFFORDS, CAPT. MARK KELLY APPLAUD OREGON SENATE FOR APPROVING BILL TO KEEP GUNS OUT OF THE HANDS OF DOMESTIC ABUSERS

May 21, 2015 – Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and retired Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, the Co-Founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), issued the below statement today after the bipartisan vote in the Oregon State Senate to approve SB 525, which helps close gaps in Oregon law by ensuring that individuals convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence or named in a restraining order that has been upheld in a court hearing can’t have legal access to guns. The victory comes on the heels of enactment of background checks legislation, for which Giffords, Kelly, and ARS had also advocated. Their statement:

“Guns and domestic violence are a tragic and often deadly mix. And today, the Oregon State Senate voted to do something about it. Republicans and Democrats stood up for commonsense solutions that limit abusers’ access to guns. We hope that leaders in the House do the responsible thing and follow suit by passing this important legislation. It will make Oregon’s families safer,” said former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and retired Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, Co-Founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions. “As the House begins to considers this critical legislation, we hope its leaders keep in mind that not only is this bill the right thing to do, but there is widespread support among their constituents for these kinds of commonsense changes to Oregon’s laws.”

Earlier this month, Congresswoman Giffords and Captain Kelly visited Salem’s Center for Hope and Safety, which serves survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and stalking, and called on lawmakers to pass SB 525 and help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.

Nationally, women in the U.S. are 11 times likely to be murdered with a gun than women in other developed countries, and more than half of all murders of America’s women are committed with a gun. Abused women are also five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if that individual has access to a firearm.

 

Gabby Giffords & Mark Kelly Statement on Funding for Background Checks and Misguided Gun Policy Riders in FY2016 CJS Appropriations Bill

 

May 20, 2015 – Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and retired Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, the Co-Founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions, issued the below statement today on funding for the federal background checks system and misguided gun riders contained in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill.

The FY2016 bill maintains funding for the National Instant Criminal Background Checks System (NICS) at the FY2015 enacted level and includes $1.25 billion for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), $49 million above the FY2015 enacted level. However, the bill contains several legislative “riders” that will hinder the enforcement of existing laws. Congresswoman Giffords and Capt. Kelly’s statement:

“This bill provides an investment in our background check system and law enforcement that is badly needed. Our national background check system is only as good as the records of the dangerous people that it contains – but thousands of records are missing, making it far too easy for dangerous people to get their hands on guns. We must continue to provide states with the resources they need to ensure that convicted felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill don’t have easy access to guns. And we must continue to give federal law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on the illegal gun trade.

“While we are pleased to see this bipartisan agreement on continued, expanded funding for our background check system, unfortunately this legislation contains several harmful riders that make it harder to enforce existing federal gun laws. These special interest riders are irresponsible. We urge the Committee to strip them from this bill.

“We were also shocked and disappointed to see the Committee reject an amendment to close the loophole that allows individuals on the FBI’s Terror Watch List to pass a background check when buying a gun. The threat of active shooter terrorism remains real, and we fear that the recent attack in Texas is a harbinger of greater future threats.

“It’s good news that this bill invests in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System grant program. But there is still a lot more to do to fix our broken background check system – including closing the loopholes that allows dangerous people to buy guns without a background check or any questions asked. Americans for Responsible Solutions will continue to fight for closing these loopholes and making our communities safer from gun violence.”

Gabrielle Giffords, Mark Kelly seek tougher Oregon, U.S. gun laws for domestic abusers

Gabrielle Giffords, Mark Kelly seek tougher Oregon, U.S. gun laws for domestic abusers

The Oregonian

May 14, 2015

Oregon is leading the way in making communities and families safer with its new law expanding gun sale background checks to include private transactions, according to former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her retired astronaut husband, Mark Kelly.

“This week, Oregon took a very positive step,” Kelly said Wednesday in Salem, referring to Gov. Kate Brown’s signing Monday of Senate Bill 941, “and over time we’re going to see less people die in the state of Oregon.”

Kelly and Giffords, who was serving as an Arizona Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives when she was shot in the head during a 2011 Tucson appearance, were in the state Capitol Wednesday to push for federal and state legislation that would better protect women and children from gun violence. They were speaking as co-founders of their advocacy group, Americans for Responsible Solutions.

In addition to meeting privately with Brown and state lawmakers, they made a public pitch at the Center for Hope & Safety, a 43-year-old Salem nonprofit that serves women and children who have experienced domestic violence. The couple chose the Center for Hope & Safety because it was highly recommended by the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, said Americans for Responsible Solutions spokesman Mark Prentice.

During a press conference in the center’s second-floor community room, Giffords gave a brief prepared statement that began, “Dangerous people with guns are a threat to women.”

Gun violence is a women’s issue, she said, and women can lead the way in addressing it with common sense and responsibility. “We can change our laws. We can win elections,” she said. “Please join your voice with mine.”

At the federal level, Americans for Responsible Solutions is supporting Senate Bill 1290, introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. Among other things, it would expand the definition of domestic partnerships and close a loophole for stalking offenders.

Kelly said federal and state laws need to acknowledge that couples who aren’t married or living together also can experience domestic violence, including violence involving guns. “Why do we allow domestic abuse to not be called what it really is?” he said.

He also said federal law prohibiting domestic abusers from possessing guns does not include those convicted of misdemeanor-level stalking crimes or those who are not living with the person they are dating.

In an interview with The Oregonian/OregonLive, he called that the “stalker gap,” saying, “Misdemeanor stalkers can buy all the guns they want – we don’t think that should be the case.”

At the state level, Senate Bill 525 would prohibit possession of a firearm or ammunition by a person who is subject to a restraining order or who has been convicted of certain misdemeanor crimes involving domestic violence.

Kelly said Oregon is already on a path to expanding the definition of domestic violence beyond married and cohabiting couples.

“I applaud Oregon for taking that extra step and even getting ahead of the federal government,” he said.

Americans for Responsible Solutions is also asking Congress to expand the federal background check system so abusers cannot access firearms and to improve states’ submission of domestic violence records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Kelly said several times that he and Giffords have no objection to gun ownership and own firearms themselves. “As responsible gun owners, we feel that everybody should have to get a background check before buying a firearm,” he said.

Prentice said the couple own several handguns, including one that Kelly had while serving as a Navy combat pilot during the first Gulf War, and a .30-06 hunting rifle.

Gabby Giffords & Mark Kelly Tour Salem Center for Domestic Violence Survivors

May 13, 2015 – Speaking today at a Salem nonprofit that serves survivors of domestic violence, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and retired Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, the Co-Founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), called on Oregon’s leaders to pass commonsense legislation that protects women and families by ensuring domestic abusers don’t have easy access to guns.

Congresswoman Giffords and Capt. Kelly spoke at Salem’s Center for Hope and Safety, which serves survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and stalking, and toured the facility with the organization’s Executive Director.

“Dangerous people with guns are a threat to women. That makes gun violence a women’s issue – for mothers, for families, for me and you,” said Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a gun owner and strong supporter of the Second Amendment and responsible gun ownership, in remarks during the visit. “Women can lead the way. Together, we can change our laws.”

“Guns and domestic violence are a tragic and often deadly mix. Our leaders need to do more to help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers – and make women and families safer from gun violence” said Captain Mark Kelly, a retired NASA astronaut and gun owner. “The proposal currently before the Oregon State Senate would make some small, commonsense changes to current laws and give Oregon’s law enforcement officials the tools they need to protect victims of domestic violence and ensure abusers don’t have easy access to guns. Gabby and I hope Oregon will continue to lead the way in protecting the rights of responsible, law-abiding gun owners and keeping guns out of dangerous hands.”

A bill before the Oregon State Senate, SB 525,  help close gaps in Oregon law by ensuring that individuals convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence can’t or named in a restraining order that has been upheld in a court hearing can’t have legal access to guns.

Nationally, women in the U.S. are 11 times likely to be murdered with a gun than women in other developed countries, and more than half of all murders of America’s women are committed with a gun. Abused women are also five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if that individual has access to a firearm.

Earlier this week, Oregon became the 18th state to require background checks for all gun sales, and the eighth since the founding of Americans for Responsible Solutions.

Gabby Giffords & Mark Kelly’s Statement On Oregon Becoming The 18th State With Expanded Background Checks For Gun Sales

May 11, 2015– Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and retired Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, the Co-Founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), issued the below statement following Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s signature of legislation making Oregon the 18th state with expanded background checks. Their statement:

“Today, Oregon became a safer place to live and joined a growing list of states that have had what Congress has not: the courage to stand up to the gun lobby. We are grateful to leaders in the legislature who sent this commonsense bill to Governor Brown’s desk – and we are grateful to Gov. Brown for making expanded background checks the law of the land in Oregon. As gun owners, we know that expanded background checks help protect the rights of law-abiding citizens – which is why 83% of gun owners support this small change to the state’s laws.

“This is a victory for responsibility and should send a clear message to leaders in Congress: if they aren’t willing to take some small, commonsense steps to keep guns out of the wrong hands, states around the country are ready to stand up for safer communities. We are proud of our organization’s work to help make this victory possible. We are also grateful to the thousands of Americans for Responsible Solutions supporters in Oregon who lobbied their elected officials, testified before the Oregon legislature and used their voice to urge their legislators to make their communities safer from gun violence.”

The bill signed into law today addresses the gap in Oregon law that lets unlicensed sellers transfer a firearm to another person, including through online sales, without a background check. Previously in Oregon, individuals must pass a background check before they can buy a gun from a licensed firearm dealer and at gun shows. While individuals can request a state background check before selling a gun to another person, Oregon did not require unlicensed sellers to conduct a background check when transferring a gun.

A recent survey of registered Oregon voters conducted on behalf of Americans for Responsible Solutions found that a broad majority of Oregonians – including gun owners – support expanded background checks for gun sales. Among the survey’s findings: 87 percent of Oregon voters support expanded background checks on gun sales, with 70 percent saying they strongly support them; and 83 percent of Oregon gun owners support expanded background checks on gun sales. Click here to read a memo on the research’s findings.

ARS PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS: OREGON

ARS has an active advocacy program in Oregon. Highlights of the organization’s work to support the passage of background checks include:

Grassroots Organizing: Earlier this month, over 100 Oregon medical professionals who are Americans for Responsible Solutions supporters – including doctors, nurses, and public health specialists – signed a letter that was delivered to state lawmakers urging them to take action to reduce gun violence, including passing SB 941, which would close the current loophole that allows people in Oregon to buy a gun without a background check. Read more here.

Mobilizing Key Constituencies: Americans for Responsible Solutions also helped organize key constituents to testify before the Oregon Senate Judiciary Committee in favor of SB 941. Earlier this month, Dr. Jim Scott of Portland and retired United States Army intelligence officer Jeff Julum of Salem testified in support of SB 941. Both Mr. Julum and Dr. Scott are supporters of Americans for Responsible Solutions. Read more here.

Targeted Digital Education Campaign: Americans for Responsible Solutions engaged in a statewide digital campaign to educate Oregonians on gaps in current Oregon gun laws and highlight commonsense changes that can make their communities safer. The campaign, which targets more than 700,000 people in the state and will run for the duration of the legislative session, will encourage Oregonians to contact their legislator and urge them to support legislation that will help reduce gun violence. Read more here.

OVERVIEW OF BACKGROUND CHECKS LAWS

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 Are Quick and Effective – They’ve 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 sixteen 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.

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