At Minnesota State Capitol, Gabby Giffords, Legislators, & Minnesota Coalition for Common Sense Members Urge Leaders in Legislature to Do More to Keep Guns Out of the Wrong Hands & Save Lives

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]

Gabby Giffords Applauds Connecticut Senate for Passing Bipartisan Measure to Prevent People Subject to Temporary Domestic Violence Restraining Orders from Legally Accessing Guns

May 2, 2016 – Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Co-Founder of the gun violence prevention organization Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), today applauded leaders in the Connecticut Senate for advancing HB 5054, which addresses gaps in Connecticut law to help close the loopholes that allow people under temporary restraining orders to legally buy and own guns.

The legislation had been approved by the House in a bipartisan vote on April 27 and was approved in a bipartisan vote in the Senate today. The legislation now heads to Governor Malloy’s desk.

“I applaud Connecticut’s leaders who stood up for common sense and voted for this responsible bill that will make it harder for abusers to get their hands on guns,” said Congresswoman Giffords. “In the fight to reduce gun violence and save lives, Governor Malloy has been one of our country’s great champions for common sense. I look forward to him signing this badly-needed legislation that will make Connecticut a safer place to live.”

A recent survey of Connecticut voters conducted on behalf of Americans for Responsible Solutions found that 86 percent of Connecticut voters support closing this loophole to help protect domestic violence victims from abusers with access to firearms. Read more about the research here.

Congresswoman Giffords was in Connecticut last year to meet with leaders in the Connecticut legislature and domestic violence prevention community to discuss the nexus of gun violence against women and families, and to call for action on this legislation and other commonsense proposals. Click here and here to read more.

As in the rest of the country, there is an often lethal link between domestic violence situations and an abuser’s access to firearms in Connecticut. Between 2000 and 2011, 175 people in the state of Connecticut were killed by an intimate partner, and 38 percent of these homicides were committed with a gun. In 2010, more than 90 percent of Connecticut domestic violence homicide victims were women.

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 if their abuser has access to a firearm.

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly Applaud the President’s Latest Steps to Help Keep Guns Out of the Wrong Hands & Reduce Gun Tragedies

April 29, 2016 – Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, the Co-Founders of the national gun violence prevention organization Americans for Responsible Solutions, today applauded President Obama following the announcement that his Administration is taking additional continued steps to keep guns out of the wrong hands and reduce gun tragedies, including accelerating the development of smart gun technology and convening state and local elected officials, including governors, attorneys general, state legislators, and city and county officials, who have been leaders in the fight to save lives from gun violence and to address the lethal nexus of access to firearms and domestic abuse.

“We applaud the President for once again acting within his authority to keep guns out of the wrong hands. Roughly thirty-three thousand Americans are killed with a gun every year, and Congress has done something remarkable in response: nothing at all. Building on the badly-needed steps taken this January, the Administration continues to lead in the fight to keep guns out of the wrong hands and make our communities safer place to live,” said Congresswoman Giffords and Captain Kelly. “Advancements in firearms technology can help provide gun owners a better product and a safer user experience, but shockingly the gun lobby has actively opposed the development and introduction of new technology, denying responsible American gun owners valuable consumer choices. The Administration’s action will help speed innovation in firearms technology, which will ultimately benefit gun owners and reduce gun violence. Additionally, we are thrilled to see the White House convene leaders from all 50 states, so we can all work together – at every level of government – to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them and save lives.”

Congresswoman Giffords, Captain Kelly, and Americans for Responsible Solutions helped lead the charge for the Administration’s actions to reduce gun violence in January 2016, and met several times with President Obama and administration officials in 2014 and 2015 to advocate for these steps. Together with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Americans for Responsible Solutions and the Law Center are leading the way in a 50-state approach to helping enact stronger gun laws that keep guns out of the wrong hands and save lives.

Gabby Giffords and Illinois Leaders Launch “Illinois Gun Violence Prevention Coalition” to Urge Legislators to Pass New Proposal That Would Slow the Flow of Illegal Guns

April 28, 2016 – Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Co-Founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions, joined with Illinois leaders today at the Jesse White Community Center & Fieldhouse to launch the Illinois Gun Violence Prevention Coalition to urge the state’s leaders to support a new proposal that will be introduced next week, the Gun Dealer Licensing Act, which would give state authorities and law enforcement the tools to encourage better business practices among federally licensed gun dealers and hold corrupt dealers accountable to slow the flow of illegal gun trafficking in Illinois and help keep guns out of the wrong hands. Read more about the Gun Dealer Licensing Act here.

According to recent research, 92 percent of Illinois voters support requiring all gun dealers to be licensed by the state.

Negligent gun dealers within Illinois fuel the illegal gun trade. From 2009 to 2013, 40 percent of the guns used in crimes in Chicago came from gun dealers within Illinois. But thanks to loopholes in federal law and a lack of federal resources for enforcement, Illinois doesn’t have the tools and authority it needs to combat illegal or negligent business practices that threaten Illinois families.

“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 in a speech at this morning’s announcement. “Now is the time to come together – to be responsible! Democrats, Republicans – everyone.”

“We are honored to be part of this new coalition of Illinois leaders urging the state’s legislators to take some responsible steps to stem the tide of illegal gun trafficking and save lives,“ said Robin Lloyd, State Legislative Director of Americans for Responsible Solutions. “We thank Senator Harmon and Representative Willis for their responsible, life-saving proposal that will hold negligent gun dealers accountable while protecting responsible dealers and the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding people. Gun trafficking and gun violence is a statewide problem that demands a statewide solution.We hope that leaders from both sides of the aisle can come together to act make Illinois safer.”

Illinois is in the grips of a gun violence crisis that claims a life every eight hours. As a state and as a nation, we must do better – and we can start by making it harder for dangerous people to get guns. That means supporting responsible proposal like this one to give our state authorities the tools they need to combat illegal gun trafficking and ensure fewer criminals get a gun,” said Colleen Daley, Executive Director, Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. “This kind of commonsense step won’t prevent every gun tragedy in our state, but it will help save lives – and we think that’s something worth fighting for. I hope our leaders in Springfield from both sides of the aisle can come together to support this badly-needed change to our laws.”

“This effort is long overdue in Illinois. We’ve been working on these issues for years, and the key thing I’ve learned is this: somewhere in the stream of commerce between a gun manufacturer and a crime scene there is someone purporting to be a law-abiding gun owner, buyer or seller who is anything but,” said Illinois Senate President Pro Tempore Don Harmon (D-Oak Park). “This legislation is a commonsense response to a marketplace for guns that has created an epidemic of violence and death, destroying families and communities.”

“The State of Illinois needs to do more to combat gun trafficking and keep guns out of the wrong hands,” said Illinois State Representative Kathleen Willis (D-Northlake). “That starts with providing our state authorities with tools they need to encourage better business practices among gun dealers, hold corrupt dealers accountable, and slow the flow of crime guns into Illinois communities. That’s why I’m introducing the Gun Dealer Licensing Act. With the incredible advocates and partners like the Illinois Gun Violence Prevention Coalition, we will work to get this done.”

The Gun Dealer Licensing Act will strengthen Illinois’ laws and help slow the the flow of illegal guns through a number of small changes to the state’s laws, including:

  • Requiring Criminal Background Checks for Gun Dealer Employees: Gun store employees often have access to huge inventories of guns and it is just common sense to make sure that the dealer and employees are just as responsible as the buyers.

  • Training and Education for Gun Dealers Employees So Our Background Check System Can Work Better: The bill would require training to ensure that dealers and their employees know how to conduct background checks, identify and stop straw purchases, and properly store guns to prevent thefts.

  • Ensuring Gun Dealers Are Held Accountable: IDFPR and law enforcement would have the ability to inspect the inventories of licensed gun dealers, so we can make sure gun dealers are held accountable for missing firearms.

Between 2002 – 2014, 14,273 people were killed with guns in Illinois, nearly three times the number of all U.S. combat troops killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined. A person is killed with a gun in Illinois every eight hours. In 2014, 1,179 people were killed by guns in Illinois.[Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence]

Groups represented in the Illinois Gun Violence Prevention Coalition include:

ABJ Community Services

All Saints Episcopal—Chicago

Americans for Responsible Solutions

Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital

Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

Catholic Charities

Center for American Progress

Chicago Board of Rabbis

Chicago Survivors

Chicagoland Brady Chapter

Community of Congregations

Community Renewal Society

Countryside Unitarian Church

Emanuel Congregation

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Faith Community of St. Sabina

Greater Institutional AME Church

Gun Responsibility Advocates

Gun Violence Prevention PAC (G-PAC)

Howard Area Community Center

Illinois Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics

Illinois Conference of Churches

Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence (ICHV)

Increase the Peace Englewood

Jewish Council on Urban Affairs

Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs (JAC PAC)

League of Women Voters of Illinois

National Gun Victims Action Council

Northwest Suburbs Organizing for America

Open Communities

Organizing Catholics for Justice

Organizing for America Chicago North Chapter

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Parents for Peace and Justice

Peace & Justice Committee Episcopal Diocese of Chicago

Peaceful Communities

People for a Safer Society

Presbyterian Church USA

Progressive Community Church

Purpose Over Pain

Quinn Chapel AME Church

Saint Joseph Anglican—Springfield

Saving Chicago’s Youth

Seabury Western Theological Seminary

St. Felicitas Catholic Church

St. Francis Xavier Parish

St. Joseph Anglican

The Peace & Justice Committee of St. Edmunds

United Church of Christ

United Church of Rogers Park

United Methodist Church

Gabby Giffords Applauds Connecticut House of Representatives for Passing Bipartisan Measure to Prevent People Subject to Temporary Domestic Violence Restraining Orders from Legally Accessing Guns

April 27, 2016 – Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Co-Founder of the gun violence prevention organization Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), issued the below statement today applauding the bipartisan vote in the Connecticut House of Representatives approving HB 5054, which addresses gaps in Connecticut law to help close the loopholes that allow people under temporary restraining orders to legally buy and own guns.

Earlier this month, a recent survey of Connecticut voters conducted on behalf of Americans for Responsible Solutions found that 86 percent of Connecticut voters support closing this loophole to help protect domestic violence victims from abusers with access to firearms. Read more about the research here.

Guns and domestic violence are a deadly mix. So I applaud the leaders in the Connecticut House who came together today – Republicans and Democrats – to pass a responsible bill that will help close a loophole that gives dangerous domestic abusers easy access to guns,” said Congresswoman Giffords. “Now is the time for leaders in the Senate to follow suit, pass this responsible bill, and send it to Governor Malloy’s desk. Connecticut can continue to lead the way in keeping guns out of the wrong hands and making our communities safer places to live.”

Congresswoman Giffords traveled to Connecticut last year to meet with leaders in the Connecticut legislature and domestic violence prevention community to discuss the nexus of gun violence against women and families, and to call for action on this issue and other commonsense proposals. Click here and here to read more.

As in the rest of the country, there is an often lethal link between domestic violence situations and an abuser’s access to firearms in Connecticut. Between 2000 and 2011, 175 people in the state of Connecticut were killed by an intimate partner, and 38 percent of these homicides were committed with a gun. In 2010, more than 90 percent of Connecticut domestic violence homicide victims were women.

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 if their abuser has access to a firearm.

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