Americans for Responsible Solutions and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence Outline Steps State Legislators Should Take to Help Prevent the Dangerously Mentally Ill from Accessing Guns

Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, retired combat veteran and NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the country’s only law center focused on providing comprehensive legal expertise in support of gun violence prevention, today released a new report outlining the steps state legislators can take to help keep guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill.

The new resource, “Commonsense Solutions: How State Laws Can Reduce Gun Deaths Associated With Mental Illness,” is the first new publication in a partnership between ARS and the San Francisco-based Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. It offers a series of proposals that state legislators should consider to address the breakdowns in state laws that allow the dangerously mentally ill to access guns. The proposals include:

• Complete reporting of all people prohibited from possessing firearms because of mental illness under federal law;

• Authorizing law enforcement officers to remove dangerous people’s access to guns, under court or administrative agency oversight;

• Requiring schools, including colleges and universities, to report people identified as violent or suicidal to a court or administrative agency charged with reviewing these reports;

• Allowing courts to issue “gun violence restraining orders” when concerned community members bring dangerous or suicidal people to their attention; and,

• Temporarily prohibiting people involuntarily hospitalized for mental illness under emergency circumstances from purchasing or possessing guns.

 
Click here to view the full report.

“The recent spate of mass shootings in our country have shown that existing state laws simply don’t do enough to keep people with dangerous mental illnesses from accessing guns. In response, legislators in statehouses across the country are asking what commonsense reforms they can make to keep guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill and save lives, ” said Americans for Responsible Solutions 501(c)(4) Director Peter Ambler. “Drawing on this new resource, we hope state legislators can seize the opportunity to enact commonsense laws that will make their communities safer.”

“Far too many lives are lost when dangerous people have easy access to guns,” said Robyn Thomas, Executive Director of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “For over 20 years, the Law Center has provided legislators with the tools they need to enact smart gun laws in their communities. This in-depth toolkit provides insight into the nation’s gun laws and will empower lawmakers and community members to stop gun violence before it happens by keeping guns out of dangerous hands.”
Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS) was founded by Congresswoman Giffords and Captain Kelly in January 2013 in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting to find sensible ways to reduce gun violence and encourage elected officials to enact responsible firearms policies that protect the Second Amendment.

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (formerly known as the Legal Community Against Violence) was founded after the 1993 shooting in San Francisco that left eight dead. Today, it is the only national law center focused on providing comprehensive legal expertise in support of gun violence prevention and the promotion of smart gun laws that save lives. As a non-profit 501(c)(3)  organization, the Law Center is dedicated to preventing the loss of lives caused by gun violence by providing trusted, in-depth legal expertise and information on America’s gun laws.

Statement By Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly on the Passing of James Brady

August 4, 2014 - Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, Co-Founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions, issued the below statement today following the death of former White House Press Secretary James S. Brady:

We were saddened to hear that our nation has lost a humble, compassionate, and brave man in Jim Brady. We have spent a lot of time thinking about Jim in the last few years, and we know he will be missed. Wounded in a senseless act of gun violence as he served our President, Jim Brady became an inspiration to countless victims of gun violence and to Americans living with disabilities. Despite the pain and struggle of his injuries, Jim never, ever stopped asking how he could keep serving others. Our prayers are with his wife Sarah, son Scott, and daughter Missy as they mourn.

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On Heels of First-Ever Senate Hearing on Intersection of Gun Violence and Domestic Violence, Gabby Giffords and Women Leaders Announce Leadership Network to Help Protect Women in U.S.

JULY 30, 2014 – WASHINGTON, D.C. – On the heels of the first-ever Senate hearing on the intersection of gun violence and domestic violence today, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and other national women leaders announced the #ProtectAllWomen Leadership Network to educate state and federal leaders on the need for solutions that protect women from gun violence. Representing a broad cross section of the gun violence prevention, domestic violence prevention, and women’s advocacy movements, the groups will work to lay the foundation for action at the state and federal levels in the 2015 legislative sessions. Priorities include:

  • Preventing stalkers and abusers from having easy access to guns;
  • Expanding background checks to prevent criminals, domestic abusers and others who threaten us and our communities from accessing firearms; and,
  • Strengthening existing federal, state and local policies and ensuring lawmakers and stakeholders have the resources and training they need to prevent and address gun violence against women.

Earlier today, the United States Senate Judiciary Committee held its first-ever hearing, titled “VAWA Next Steps: Protecting Women From Gun Violence,” on the nexus of guns and domestic violence and what Congress can do to protect women. Congresswoman Giffords delivered a petition to Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy this spring signed by 37,000 Americans requesting today’s hearing.

“Dangerous people who get their hands on guns are a threat to women, families, and our communities. That’s why gun violence is a women’s issue,” said Congresswoman Giffords. “Today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing was an important first step on the road to strengthening our laws. So now it is time for leaders in Washington and across the country to come together – Republicans and Democrats – and pass legislation that helps protect women from gun violence. It is time for action. Women’s lives are at stake.”

The leadership network plans to focus on: 1) attracting new voices to efforts to protect women and families from gun violence and broadening the constituency of those advocating for stronger gun laws; 2) educating lawmakers and their constituents about the threat that guns in the wrong hands pose to women and families, and about commonsense protections from gun violence; and 3) organizing tables of concerned women at the state and local level to advocate progress in state legislatures. In September, members of the group plan a major organizing and advocacy push around the 20th anniversary of the enactment of the Violence Against Women Act, which falls on September 13, 2014.

In addition to Congresswoman Giffords, members of the Leadership Network include:

  • Angela Rye, Principal and CEO, IMPACT Strategies;
  • Carol Robles-Roman, President and CEO, Legal Momentum;
  • Chief Janee Harteau, Police Chief, Minneapolis Police Department;
  • Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D., CEO, YWCA USA;
  • Deborah D. Tucker, Executive Director, National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence;
  • Desiree Hoffman, Director of Advocacy and Policy, YWCA USA:
  • Esta Soler, President, Futures Without Violence;
  • Katie Ray-Jones, President & CEO, National Domestic Violence Hotline;
  • Kiersten Stewart, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, Futures Without Violence;
  • Kim Gandy, President & CEO, National Network to End Domestic Violence;
  • Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, Executive Director/CEO, MomsRising;
  • Lanae Erickson, Director of Social Policy & Politics, Third Way;
  • Lisalyn Jacobs, Vice President for Government Relations, Legal Momentum;
  • Lori Haas, Virginia State Director, The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence;
  • Lori Weinstein, CEO/Executive Director, Jewish Women International;
  • Mai Fernandez, Executive Director, National Center for Victims of Crime;
  • Margaret Huang, Deputy Executive Director for Campaigns and Programs, Amnesty International USA;
  • Maria Teresa Kumar, CEO/President, Voto Latino;
  • Megan Lewis, Executive Vice President, Everytown for Gun Safety;
  • Melanie Campbell, Convener, Black Women’s Roundtable, and CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation;
  • Monika Johnson Hostler, President, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence;
  • Neera Tanden, President, Center for American Progress;
  • Nicole Hockley, Communications Director, Sandy Hook Promise;
  • Page Gardner, Founder and President, Voter Participation Center;
  • Paulette Sullivan Moore, Vice President of Public Policy, National Network to End Domestic Violence;
  • Rob Valente, Policy Expert, National Domestic Violence Hotline;
  • Robyn Thomas, Executive Director, Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence;
  • Shannon Watts, Founder, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America;
  • Terry O’Neill, President, National Organization for Women;
  • Shaunna Thomas, Co-Founder, Ultra Violet; and,
  • Winnie Stachelberg, Executive Vice President, External Affairs, Center for American Progress.

“The connection between gun violence and domestic violence is unmistakable,” said Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress, one of the key groups supporting the Network. “Every day in the United States, five women are murdered with guns and many of these women are killed by intimate partners. This is unacceptable. We must do more to keep firearms out of the hands of stalkers and abusers. At the Center for American Progress, we have been working over the past year to raise awareness about the danger to American women from gun violence and to advocate for policy solutions to better protect women. I look forward to continuing this important work as part of the Protect All Women Leadership Network.”

“Every day, our advocates hear from women who are suffering from life-threatening abuse. Too many of these stories involve threats of firearms violence by abusers. We cannot afford to let them live in fear any longer,” said Katie Ray-Jones, President and CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. “The time to act is now, and the creation of this leadership network is an important first step toward ending that violence.”

“Women in the United States are 11 times more likely to be killed with firearms than women in other high income countries, and more than three times as many women in this country are murdered with guns used by intimate partners than by any combination of stranger’s guns, knives or other weapons combined,” said Kim Gandy, President & CEO, National Network to End Domestic Violence. “I look forward to the impact this group will have on substantially changing these statistics.”

“As one of the largest providers of domestic violence services across the country, I firmly believe that it is time for Congress to have a real dialogue about the alarming correlation between gun violence and domestic violence,” said YWCA USA CEO Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D. “Passing common-sense legislation that protects women and families from gun violence is the unfinished business of the Violence Against Women Act, and Congress must work to ensure that it happens before countless more lives are lost.”

“Keeping guns out of the hands of criminals is the #1 thing we can do to prevent gun violence. Right now in many states, a stalker or domestic abuser can walk into a gun show and purchase a weapon, or jump online and surf through his many semi-automatic choices on Armslist.com,” said Lanae Erickson, Director of Social Policy & Politics, Third Way. “That threatens the safety of women, of children, and of our community as a whole. States that have closed these loopholes have seen a 38% decrease in women being shot and killed by their domestic abuser. Those who would protect an abuser’s ability to buy a gun without a background check are making women less safe.”

“We are honored to be part of this important initiative joining Congresswoman Giffords and so many others around the country who are committed to protecting women and preventing violence by advocating for common sense gun laws that keep all women and families safe from convicted stalkers and domestic abusers,” commented Mai Fernandez, Executive Director of the National Center for Victims of Crime.

“There is no doubt that guns make a domestic violence situation deadly. Far too many women are dying at the hands of their abusers due to easy access to guns in this country. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is committed to educating the American public and legislators nationwide on the facts regarding the lethal combination of guns and domestic abuse,” said Robyn Thomas, Executive Director of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “As a nation, must do everything we can to protect women from domestic abusers and stalkers by closing these dangerous loopholes in our federal and state laws. Doing so will truly save lives.”

“Time and time again, we have seen that guns and domestic violence are a lethal mix. When an individual with a demonstrated history of domestic abuse or stalking decides to use a gun, the results are usually deadly for women. Stronger laws that help keep guns out of the hands of those known to use domestic and sexual violence and stalking will help protect women and make our communities safer,” said Deborah D. Tucker, Executive Director, National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence.

“Violence against all women has reached epidemic proportions; negatively impacting women, children and the communities where they live. The Black Women’s Roundtable recently released a report that found ‘Black women are especially likely to be a victim of violence in America. In fact, no woman is more likely to be murdered in America today than a Black woman. No woman is more likely to be raped than a Black woman’, said Melanie Campbell, Convener, Black Women’s Roundtable, and CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. “We already know the statistics are frightening for women across America. It’s time for the US legislators to get serious about protecting all women against violence. We must do everything in our power to prevent criminals who threaten us and our communities from accessing firearms including bolstering existing laws to protect women so they feel empowered to confront their perpetrator in court.”

“The relationship between guns and domestic violence is deadly — in fact, research has found that the presence of a gun makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed,” said Shannon Watts, Founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “That’s why Moms and Americans are coming together to call on our elected leaders to fix the loopholes in our laws that make it easy for domestic abusers to get and keep guns — and we’re already making progress. In the last year, we helped pass laws in six states that will keep guns out of abusers’ hands. We’re going to keep fighting for public safety measures in more states and at the federal level because women’s lives are on the line.”

“Critical gaps in the law allow too many abusers to buy and use guns — and put women’s lives at risk. But the good news is that stronger gun laws will help save women’s lives. We know this is true because in states that require background checks for all handgun sales, 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners,” said Megan Lewis, Executive Vice President, Everytown for Gun Safety. “That’s why we’re pushing Congress and state legislatures to close the loopholes that make it easy for domestic abusers and stalkers to get and keep guns. It’s time for political leaders to take action.”

Women in the United States are 11 times more likely to be murdered by a gun than women in other high-income countries, and abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser owns a firearm. In 36 states, more than half of intimate partner-related homicides of women in each state involved a gun. In addition, stalking affects one in six women in the United States, and more than three-quarters female intimate partner homicide victims were stalked prior to being murdered.

Current federal law prohibits convicted domestic abusers from legally buying guns. However, individuals who have been convicted of misdemeanor stalking are not prohibited from purchasing firearms; they can still pass a background check and buy a gun through the so-called ‘stalker gap’. Another gap in federal law exists where the law prevents convicted domestic abusers from firearms access but excludes those in dating relationships from that same protection. This leaves women in dating relationships who are not married, do not live with their partner, or do not share a child in common vulnerable to abuse that can be lethal. In fact, in 2008, nearly half of all domestic violence homicides were committed against a current or former dating partner.

Additionally, convicted domestic abusers (who are prohibited from gun access) can evade the law and still purchase a gun at a gun show or on the Internet, where sales of guns do not require a background check.

This past year has seen bipartisan momentum for laws aimed at preventing gun violence against women. In 2014, six states – Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Washington, and Wisconsin – have enacted domestic gun violence legislation that will protect women with overwhelming support from both political parties.

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Gabby’s Op-Ed on CNN.com on Protecting Women from Gun Violence

http://cnn.it/1uEBS7O

Guns killing women: Time for Congress to act
By Gabrielle Giffords and Katie Ray-Jones
July 30, 2014

This month, just outside of Houston, a man police say had a history of abusing and threatening women got his hands on a gun and executed six members of his ex-wife’s family — including four children. On that day, local law enforcement officials believe he was on his way to hunt down other family members when, thankfully, they ended his rampage.

In our country, it’s a sadly common story: An abuser or stalker gains access to guns and destroys the lives of women and families in our communities. That’s why it is time for Congress to address this lethal mix of domestic violence and guns. Our leaders must pass laws that prevent stalkers and abusers from accessing guns to intimidate, hurt or kill women.

The numbers should shock you: Women in America are 11 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than women in other democratic countries with developed economies. In domestic abuse situations, if the abuser has access to a gun, it increases the chance that a woman will die by 500%. Most of the time, women are murdered with guns by someone they know, either by a family member or an intimate partner, such as a former or current husband or boyfriend. Between 2001 and 2012, more women were shot to death by an intimate partner in our country than the total number of American troops killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined. That is a national shame.

Fortunately, the momentum is on our side. On Wednesday, the Senate will hold its first-ever hearing on domestic violence homicides and the use of gun violence against America’s women. Many of our elected leaders are calling for new protections for those who are subject to abuse. States are already taking bipartisan action. And Americans support these laws by staggering margins. Currently, federal law prevents people who are under domestic violence protection orders or have misdemeanor domestic violence convictions from accessing guns. But even though increasing numbers of couples are choosing to marry later in life, the law hasn’t been extended to address dating partner abuse. And convicted stalkers can still get guns.

Common sense says that these dangerous loopholes should be closed now. Congress has the power to do it.

Those who argue that stalkers don’t necessarily exhibit violent or threatening behavior haven’t been on the other side of a conversation with a woman who fears for her life because her former boyfriend or acquaintance is promising to find her and kill her. The reality is three out of four women killed by their intimate partner were stalked before their death. We must continue to educate those who don’t understand why we need these protections for abused women.

Democrats and Republicans in state legislatures around the country recognize the problem and have come together to pass laws that better protect women from gun violence. This year alone, leaders in six states — Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Washington and Wisconsin — have enacted legislation with overwhelming bipartisan support that will help protect abused women from gun violence.

Faced with laws that don’t do enough to keep guns away from domestic abusers and stalkers, Democrats and Republicans chose common-sense change over the status quo. Our leaders in Washington should follow their example and back legislation that prohibits stalkers and dating abusers from having guns. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, a former prosecutor, has a bill that would do just that. It is the responsible thing to do.

Keeping guns out of the hands of abusers and stalkers will take more than a Senate hearing and carefully worded statements that say all the right things. It will require our leaders to show some courage and stand up for common-sense laws. It will require some hard work. And it will require overcoming the power of those in Washington who continue to fight against these laws.

But we urgently need stronger gun laws that protect women. We can’t wait any longer. Women’s lives are at stake.

Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is the co-founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions. Katie Ray-Jones is the president and acting CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Captain Mark Kelly Statement on the Second Anniversary of the Aurora, Colorado Massacre

JULY 20, 2014 – Captain Mark Kelly, Co-Founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions and retired NASA astronaut, issued the following statement marking the second anniversary of the massacre in Aurora, Colorado:

“For Colorado and our country, this is an awful anniversary. Gabby and I know that for the victims’ families, it is impossible to go back to the life they had. Even as the pain lingers, Coloradans should be proud that they passed legislation to keep guns away from those who shouldn’t have them — because words alone are not enough to erase the hurt, or to honor the lives destroyed in the shooting. We honor those who were lost that night by working to prevent gun deaths and injuries. That’s why we must all keep fighting for commonsense solutions that make our communities safer.”

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