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.

Gabby Giffords, National Domestic Violence Prevention Leaders Applaud New House Legislation to Keep Guns Out of the Hands of Abusers

July 22, 2015 – Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and national domestic violence prevention advocates today applauded the introduction of new bipartisan legislation in the House of Representatives that protects victims of domestic violence and stalking by helping keep guns out of the hands of abusers and convicted stalkers.

Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell of Michigan and Republican Congressman Robert Dold of Illinois announced the new proposal, the Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act, at an event today hosted by Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun violence prevention organization founded by Congresswoman Giffords and her husband, Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly.

“I applaud Congresswoman Dingell and Congressman Dold for doing the responsible thing and offering a commonsense, bipartisan solution that would help protect vulnerable women and their families. In so many communities around our country, guns and domestic violence are a deadly, tragic mix. There is no doubt: dangerous people with guns are a threat to women, and the loopholes in our laws are one reason we have such a problem in our country with gun violence against women,” said Congresswoman Giffords. “By closing the loopholes that let abusers and stalkers get guns, this law would make our country a safer place to live – and it would save lives. I am grateful to Congresswoman Dingell and Congressman Dold for standing up for common sense, and I hope their colleagues in Congress join them in supporting this badly needed legislation.”

The legislation makes two small commonsense changes to federal law to address existing loopholes that make it easy for perpetrators of dating violence and those convicted of misdemeanor stalking to legally access guns. The bill would:

  1. Close the Loophole That Lets Perpetrators of Dating Violence Access Guns: Current federal law prohibits individuals convicted of domestic violence offenses from accessing firearms, including individuals who are a current or former spouse, parent, parent of a child in common, current or former cohabitant, or a personal similarly situated to a spouse, parent or guardian of the victim. But federal law does not include perpetrators who abused current or former dating partners. With more women unmarried in non-cohabitating dating relationships, this gap leaves a significant number of abusers free to access firearms.

  2. Close the Loophole That Lets Some Convicted Stalkers Access Guns: Under current federal law, individuals convicted of felony stalking offenses are prohibited from accessing guns. But individuals convicted of misdemeanor stalking offenses are not prohibited. With many first-time felony offenses plead down to misdemeanor charges, and with stalking a strong precursor to escalating violence, the legislation closes this gap in federal law, so that all individuals convicted of stalking offenses are prohibited from accessing firearms.

“Current federal law leaves dangerous gaps for victims of dating and stalking. NNEDV applauds Rep. Dingell and Rep. Dold for their introduction of the Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act, closing the federal loophole for these types of abusers. The Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act is one more step to prevent domestic violence homicides,” said Kim Gandy, President & CEO, the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

“In a recent survey conducted by The Hotline, 22 percent of the participants said their abusive partner had threatened to use a firearm and 67 percent believed their partner was capable of killing them,” said Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. “By closing federal loopholes that let perpetrators of dating abuse access firearms, the Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act proposed by Rep. Dingell and Rep. Dold is another step in protecting victims and making them feel safe.”

“Women and children are dying everyday in the United States because abusers are allowed access to guns. We must close the legal loopholes that allow this to happen. It’s encouraging to see bipartisan support for the Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act – the YWCA is committed to working to see this critical legislation passed this session,”said Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D. CEO of the YWCA USA.

Last July, the Senate Judiciary Committee, then chaired by Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, held the first-ever Senate hearing on the nexus of domestic abuse and gun violence against women.

This fall, Congresswoman Giffords traveled on a nine-state, nine-day national tour highlighting the need for stronger state and federal laws that protect women and families from gun violence and respect the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

Since 2008, states have enacted over 30 new laws addressing the nexus of access to guns and domestic violence. In 2014 alone, six states – two of them with Republican controlled-legislatures – enacted laws to protect domestic violence victims: Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Washington, and Wisconsin.

In 2015, leaders in Alabama, Delaware, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, South Carolina, Vermont and Washington have also passed similar legislation to protect women and families from abusers with guns.

BACKGROUND ON THE NEXUS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, DATING PARTNER ABUSE, STALKING, AND ACCESS TO FIREARMS

Captain Mark Kelly Statement on the Shootings in Chattanooga, Tennessee

July 16, 2015 – Retired Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, the Co-Founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions along with his wife, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, issued the below statement following today’s shootings in Chattanooga, Tennessee:

“While there is still a lot to learn about exactly what happened this morning in Chattanooga and why, we know that, sadly, once again gun violence has befallen another one of our communities. Gabby and I are holding the victims of today’s tragedy and their families in our thoughts. We are praying for the entire Chattanooga community and for our fellow members of our nation’s military family.

“As a proud Navy veteran, it is especially tragic to see such a horrific attack on men and women who have dedicated themselves to keeping America safe did not occur in battle overseas — but in a shooting here at home

“At this moment, so many Americans feel anger and sadness. And they should. But along with that pain and disgust, we must also acknowledge our gratitude to the Marines, Sailors, civilians and first responders who acted with such courage today, and show our support for the injured who have such a long road ahead. Gabby and I hope they know they have a nation behind them.”

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