”We are saddened that a gun violence tragedy has once again visited the people of Colorado, who know the toll of gun violence all too well. Just a day after celebrating Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season with their loved ones, a shooting took innocent Coloradans and one of its law enforcement officers, and changed the lives of others forever.
”While we still don’t know all the details of what happened and why, as a country we must recognize the shameful reality that these kind of shootings simply don’t happen as often in other nations. We can do a lot better than this. We have to do better than this.
”We grieve for the Coloradans whose lives were cut short, and we are praying for strength for the injured and their families. We are also grateful to the first responders who put themselves in harm’s way so bravely and whose heroism undoubtedly helped save lives. Our thoughts are with the entire Colorado Springs community.”
November 14, 2015 – Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, issued the following statement responding to the extensive discussion of gun violence and gun policy during tonight’s Democratic primary presidential debate:
“Voters are demanding to hear candidates’ plans for how we can make our country safer from gun violence, and fortunately, that’s exactly what voters got tonight. It was good to see the people running to be our Commander in Chief discuss some of the ways we can both prevent some of the 10,000 gun murders that happen in our country every year and protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners,” said Hayley Zachary, Executive Director of Americans for Responsible Solutions. “From now until November 2016, every debate, no matter the party, should include a responsible, serious discussion of how we can reduce the gun violence that is ripping so many of our communities apart.”
By Captain Mark Kelly
November 11, 2015 – Earlier this month in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on a quiet Saturday afternoon, one of our nation’s veterans went out for a bike ride.
Then, in a few random moments, that hero was dead — struck down by a bullet fired by a total stranger in a murderous rampage.
In an instant, Sgt. Andrew Alan Meyers — a 35-year-old father of two boys, 10 and 13, who served in our Army for a decade — had joined a grim group of his fellow Americans: the more than 10,000 who are killed with a gun every year.
Myers’ grieving grandfather acknowledged the sad irony of his death: “He spent three tours of duty in Iraq and came out of that all right, and then came home only to be shot by someone he didn’t even know.”
Myers’ death was a painful reminder of our country’s gun violence problem, one that affects virtually every community and claims too many lives.
That’s why two years ago today, on Veterans Day, I joined with more than 100 of my fellow veterans to form a new coalition in an effort to reduce gun violence in America. Our coalition is made up of retired flag officers, former enlisted service members of the U.S. armed forces and senior officers who know how to handle weapons, know the awesome power they possess, and have seen firsthand how they can be used for good in the hands of responsible people.
But we also know the damage these weapons can cause when they fall into the hands of dangerous people.
As service members in a war zone, we were committed to the responsible use of our weapons. We defended both the Constitution and the homeland.
Now we’re asking our leaders in Washington, and in statehouses and governor’s mansions around the country to protect our rights and families by keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill. We hope you will join us in calling for this commonsense change.
We’re joining in this fight because right now it’s far too easy for dangerous people like felons, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill to buy guns without a background check. Dr. Deborah Azrael, of Harvard’s Injury Control Research Center, according to a report in TheTrace found that in a survey of 2,072 gun owners, “roughly 40% said they’d acquired their most recent firearm (through a sale or transfer) without going through a background check.”
This might begin to explain why America has 20 times the gun murder rate of our peer countries.
The gaps in our laws might also help explain why since 1968, more Americans have died from guns in the United States than on battlefields of all the wars in our country’s history.
The number of Americans killed with guns make our country — an exceptional country that I and my fellow veterans risked our lives to defend — stand out in the worst of ways. We can do a lot better.
Some are quick to label people fighting for commonsense laws to reduce gun violence, like background checks, as “gun grabbers” and “anti-Second Amendment.”
It’s hard to take those claims seriously: As a Persian Gulf War combat veteran who exercises my Second Amendment right to own guns, I don’t want to take away anyone’s guns any more than I want to give up the six guns my wife, Gabrielle, and I have locked in a safe at our house in Tucson.
What we do want is what the majority of National Rifle Association members and other Americans want: responsible changes in our laws that reduce gun violence and protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners, like background checks for every person who buys a gun.
We are also not naive. We know that even the most commonsense solutions like closing the loopholes in our laws that let dangerous people buy guns without background checks won’t prevent every gun murder in our country. Gun violence is a really complex problem, and no single law will solve it. Stronger laws might not have spared Myers.
But if we can, say, cut in half the number of Americans slain with a gun each year, fewer families and communities would be shattered, and our country would be much safer. We think that’s worth fighting for.
Thirty-three years ago, my career in public service began with a single oath, one taken by every member of the armed forces: “To serve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
I hope that other veterans who took that same oath — and who want to see our beloved homeland become a safer place to live — will join us in this fight for some badly needed common sense.
ARS Statement on Governor Chris Christie’s Conditional Veto of Bipartisan Bill to Close Gaps in New Jersey Law and Help Keep Guns Out of the Hands of Domestic Abusers
November 9, 2015 – Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, issued the below statement following Governor Chris Christie’s decision to conditionally veto a bipartisan, commonsense bill (A4218/S2786) that would have established effective procedures that will help limit domestic abusers’ access to guns by providing guidance and assurance to law enforcement, victims, and advocates.
“We’re disappointed to see that presidential politics got in the way of this bipartisan bill being signed into law. While we are continuing to evaluate Governor Christie’s proposal to expedite firearms licenses for people at risk in dangerous domestic violence situations, there is no reason why the life-saving, commonsense provisions of this bipartisan legislation should be delayed any longer. Governor Christie’s proposed changes to this law do nothing to help keep guns out of the hands of abusers. We look forward to the key provisions of this bill being enacted by New Jersey’s next governor,” said Peter Ambler, Founder and (C)(4) Director of Americans for Responsible Solutions.
A4218 / S2786 would strengthen New Jersey’s laws and help protect domestic violence survivors by:
- Requiring domestic abusers to surrender all of their guns if a domestic violence restraining order is in effect, or if they’re convicted of a domestic violence offense;
- Suspending the gun purchaser ID cards and permits of abusers;
- Revoking such cards if an abuser is convicted of a domestic violence crime; and,
- Requiring the cross-checking of records to determine if an abuser owns a firearm.
This March, Congresswoman Giffords joined Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera and leaders in New Jersey’s domestic violence prevention community at an event at the New Jersey State House to urge legislators to pass laws like this one that protect women and families from gun violence.
BACKGROUND ON THE NEXUS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, DATING PARTNER ABUSE, STALKING, AND ACCESS TO FIREARMS
Women in the United States Are Eleven Times More Likely to be Murdered with a Gun Than Women in Other Developed Countries. More than half of all murders of America’s women are committed with a gun. [Centers for Disease Control, 2012]More than two-thirds of spouse and ex-spouse homicide victims between 1980 and 2008 were killed with firearms. [Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2011] In 2013, a gun was the most commonly used weapon in a murder of a woman by a man. [Violence Policy Center, 2015]
Guns and Domestic Abuse Don’t Mix: Abused Women in the United States Are Five Times More Likely to be Killed by Their Abuser if That Individual Has Access to a Gun.[Centers for Disease Control, 2012]
Nearly Half of Murders by an Intimate Partner Are Committed by a Dating Partner – But the “Boyfriend Gap” in Federal Law Lets Abusive Dating Partners Access Guns: From 2009 to 2010, 48.6 percent of all intimate partner homicides were committed by a dating partner. [Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2011] 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 from accessing guns. With more women choosing to marry later in life and live in non-cohabitating dating relationships, this gap leaves a significant number of abusers free to access firearms. [Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence]
Stalking Is A Strong Predictor of Future Violence – But the “Stalker Gap” in Federal Law Lets Some Convicted Stalkers Access Guns: Stalking is a strong precursor to escalating violence. One study of female murder victims in ten cities found that 76 percent of women murdered and 85 percent who survived a murder attempt by a current or former intimate partner experienced stalking in the year preceding the murder. [Homicide Studies, 1999] 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 from accessing guns. Closing the “stalker gap” in federal law would help ensure that all individuals convicted of stalking offenses are prohibited from accessing firearms. [Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence]
In the Face of Inaction in Congress, Blue, Purple and Red States Are Enacting Laws to Close These Loopholes and Limit Abusers’ and Stalkers’ Access to Guns. While each state has taken a distinct approach to strengthening laws that address gun violence against women, state leaders are addressing major gaps in federal law to help protect vulnerable women and families. At least 12 states have updated their laws to prohibit people convicted of violent misdemeanors against dating partners from possessing firearms. And 25 states prohibit gun possession by at least some people subject to protective orders for dating partners. In the last two years, leaders from both parties have enacted legislation addressing the often lethal mix of domestic violence and access to firearms in a number of states, including Alabama, Delaware, Louisiana, Nevada,Oregon, South Carolina, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Americans from Both Parties Support Legislation Limiting Abusers’ and Stalkers’ Access to Guns. According to research conducted in June 2015, 82 percent of Americans – including 82 percent of Republicans – say they would support legislation that helps keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and stalkers. [Public Policy Polling]
November 3, 2015 – Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, tonight celebrated the election of Jeremy McPike to the Virginia State Senate. Building on statewide victories in Virginia in 2013 and 2014, Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC supported the campaign of Senator-Elect McPike with a targeted program to communicate with key voters, including independents and drop-off voters.
“For the third election in a row, we took on the gun lobby right in its own backyard and won. We congratulate Senator-Elect McPike on his election to the Virginia Senate. Senator-Elect McPike stood up to the gun lobby and stood with the vast majority of Virginians and Americans who support commonsense policies like background checks on all gun sales to help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. And once again, we saw that a candidate can run and win on their support for commonsense gun violence prevention policies like background checks,” said Hayley Zachary, Executive Director of Americans for Responsible Solutions. “We have no doubt Senator-Elect McPike will be a pragmatic, independent voice for Virginia’s families. We look forward to working with him to make Virginia a safer place to live.”
Key Takeaways From the McPike Victory:
For three elections in a row, candidates in Virginia have shown you can support commonsense gun violence prevention laws like background checks and beat the candidates who oppose them. Like Governor McAuliffe, Attorney General Mark Herring, and Lt. Governor Ralph Northam in 2013 and Senator Mark Warner in 2014, Senators-Elect McPike showed in 2015 you can run and win on a message of responsible gun violence prevention laws, even in a purple state with a strong culture of gun ownership. Candidates should adopt gun violence prevention positions and messages to reach and sway “the deciders,” eg: independent women and other key voting demographics;
Drop-off voters turnout in response to messaging about gun laws. Messaging on gun violence prevention policies like background checks for all gun sales is a critical turn-out tool for a targeted set of drop-off, low-propensity voters; and,
Voters see opposition to popular policies like background checks as extreme. Opposition to popular and effective policies like background checks on all gun sales allows ARS and other groups to brand candidates as extreme.
Public polling in Virginia also found that proposals to close loopholes in the gun background check system remain popular among likely voters in Virginia, with 77 percent of respondents saying they support proposals to make background checks for potential gun purchasers “more thorough.”
Highlights: 2015 ARS PAC Virginia Electoral Program in Support of Senator-Elect McPike
Direct Mail: Four pieces of mail to a universe of 7,868 persuasion voters and three pieces of GOTV mail to a universe of 5,015 households.
Digital: Robust digital persuasion program that included banner, mobile, Facebook and Twitter advertising, as well as video pre-roll advertising.SD29 was included in our GOTV digital program that included banner, Facebook, and pre-roll advertising encouraging Virginians to vote.
Contributions to Coordinated Field Program: ARS PAC also contributed to the coordinated field program in SD 29, and collected 4,098 IDs at voters’ doors. ARS PAC staff also assisted with the GOTV canvass.