Gabby Giffords & Mark Kelly Statement on the Shooting at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport

January 6, 2017 – Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, the Co-Founders of the gun violence prevention organization Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), and ARS’s partner organization the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence issued the below statement on today’s tragic mass shooting at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

STATEMENT FROM CONGRESSWOMAN GABRIELLE GIFFORDS AND CAPTAIN MARK KELLY

“Today’s tragic shooting in Ft. Lauderdale is another painful reminder of our nation’s gun violence crisis. We are incredibly grateful to the first responders who acted so bravely this afternoon to save lives and bring this tragedy to an end. We mourn for those taken today, and pray for those who were injured.

“We wish we could say we lived in a country where people could go to an airport without facing the fear of gun violence. We cannot let this horror become normal. Our country is better than this.”

ABOUT FLORIDA’S GUN LAWS

Florida has some of the worst gun laws in the nation, regularly scoring an F in the Law Center’s annual Gun Law State Scorecard. It fails to require background checks for private sales, does not require gun dealers to obtain a state license, has incredibly weak standards for allowing people to carry concealed guns in public, and even bars doctors from speaking about firearm safety with their patients. Learn more about gun laws in Florida at smartgunlaws.org/FL.

Gabby Giffords & Mark Kelly Statement on this Weekend’s Shootings in Chicago, Illinois

December 18, 2016 – 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 the tragic shootings in Chicago, Illinois this weekend:

“This weekend’s tragic shootings in Chicago are another painful reminder of our nation’s gun violence crisis.

“We know that no family or community should ever have to experience this heartache. No zip code should ever determine who lives and who dies in our country. Whether you live in a big city or a small town – you should be able to live without the fear of getting shot.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Chicago, and the families of those who were impacted by these tragedies.”

ARS & The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence Release 2016 Gun Law State Scorecard

December 16, 2016— Today, Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, and its partner organization the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the leading national resource for tracking and analyzing our nation’s gun laws, released its annual Gun Law State Scorecard (gunlawscorecard.org), which ranks each state based on the strength of its gun laws.

The 2016 Gun Law State Scorecard reveals a strong correlation between smart gun laws and lower gun death rates. States with the weakest laws, like Mississippi and Alaska (ranked 50 and 44 out of 50), have some of the highest gun death rates in the nation (4 and 1, respectively). Meanwhile states with stronger gun laws like California and Massachusetts (ranked 1 and 4 out of 50) have some of the lowest gun death rates in the country (43 and 50, respectively), showing that commonsense solutions like universal background checks are saving lives from gun violence in states across the country.

This year, we witnessed the deadliest mass shooting in American history, when a gunman opened fire in an Orlando nightclub, killing 49 and wounding 53 more. The renewed national attention to this issue added many more necessary voices of support to the ever-growing movement for smart gun laws.

  • Remarkable momentum for smart gun laws at the state level: In the four years since 20 children and six educators were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School, lawmakers in 42 states and Washington DC have passed over 160 new smart gun laws.
  • Gun-safety ballot initiatives won big on Election Day: Voters in California, Nevada, and Washington sidestepped a Congress paralyzed by the gun lobby’s grip by enacting comprehensive gun safety laws at the ballot box.
  • Support for domestic violence gun safety legislation continues to grow: Since women in domestic violence situations are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser has a gun, state lawmakers have strengthened laws that keep guns out of abusers’ hands. In 2016, six states passed laws preventing domestic abusers from accessing firearms—even in states with some of the weakest gun laws like Tennessee and Virginia.
  • Defeat of campus-carry bills: The gun violence prevention movement scored major defensive victories by standing up against irresponsible legislation that would allow hidden, loaded weapons to be carried on college campuses. Activists defeated dangerous guns-on-campus bills in 17 states, including a veto from the governor of Georgia.

“The 2016 Gun Law State Scorecard, as in years past, showcases the simple but compelling evidence that is the foundation of the work we do: by enacting smart gun laws, we can significantly reduce gun death rates and safeguard our communities. Our experts have done the research, and the evidence speaks for itself,” said Robyn Thomas Executive Director of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “This comprehensive analysis of each state’s gun laws and their impact serves as an invaluable tool to lawmakers, activists, and concerned citizens who want to take action in their own communities. We’re extremely proud to bring them the latest insights on the gun violence crisis to propel their efforts.”

The Law Center was proud to work on the front lines in the battle for smart gun laws in 2016. Law Center attorneys drafted ballot language for California’s Proposition 63, the “Safety for All” initiative, wrote the model law Washington State used as a guide for its Extreme Risk Protection Order ballot initiative, worked with ARS to craft policy solutions for President Obama’s executive actions on guns, and partnered with legislators and activists in states across the country to pass bold new gun laws.

Legal experts from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence are immediately available for interviews about the 2016 Gun Law State Scorecardthe remarkable progress made at the state level since Sandy Hook, and any other issues regarding our nation’s gun laws.

Explore the 2016 Gun Law State Scorecard at gunlawscorecard.org.

ARS & Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence Release New Report on Closing Gaps in Federal Background Checks System

December 8, 2016  — Today, Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, and its partner organization the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, released a new report on the ways state lawmakers can strengthen one of our most valuable tools when it comes to saving lives from gun violence—the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). For the Record: NICS & Public Safety examines the background checks process, the challenges the system faces, and the best practices lawmakers can adopt to improve the quality and number of records in the NICS databases. 

In 2014 alone, the NICS database stopped 147,000 prohibited people from buying guns from federally licensed dealers. But too many other prohibited purchasers are slipping through the cracks because of missing or incomplete records in the NICS databases. In 2014, more than 700,000 domestic violence protective orders never made it to the system, despite domestic abuse being a leading cause of gun violence.

This new analysis from the nation’s leading gun law experts is essential to understanding how the background checks process works, and the report sheds light on how making improvements to this complex system of databases can save lives. Our nation desperately needs tools like NICS to be as strong and effective as possible, and improving this system represents a leap forward in the effort to save lives from gunfire.

For the Record: NICS & Public Safety also reveals:

  • The background checks process does not act as a barrier to the legal sale or transfer of a gun—most checks are completed in less than two minutes.
  • At least 20 states have improved the way they report mental health records since 2013, making these pieces of legislation one of the most popular ways to combat gun violence.
  • In recent years, states like Arizona and Virginia have dramatically improved the way they send records to NICS, making it far more difficult for guns to fall into dangerous hands.

“Improving state record reporting practices is one of the simplest, most impactful steps lawmakers can take to make vast improvements to the NICS databases, making it tougher for convicted felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill from purchasing deadly weapons,” said Robyn Thomas, executive director of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “A vast majority of Americans support background checks as a frontline defense against gun violence, and understanding and improving the NICS databases are a key component to that strategy.”

“With our federal gun laws weakened by the gun show and internet loopholes and Congress unwilling to close them, state legislators around the country are asking what they can do to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals. This report is an invaluable resource to lawmakers who want to take responsible action to ensure dangerous people are in the background check system,” said Peter Ambler, Executive Director, Americans for Responsible Solutions. “In the coming months, we look forward to working with these lawmakers to strengthen the NICS databases, keep guns out of dangerous hands, and save lives.”

The daily presence of gun violence leaves our communities at grave risk—fortunately, this is not a problem without an effective, practical solution. Enacting universal background checks, and strengthening the NICS databases are two of the most effective ways legislators can protect their constituents from gun violence while still respecting the rights of law-abiding citizens.

For more information on background checks and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, read For the Record: NICS & Public Safety.

7 Top Law Firms Launch the Firearms Accountability Counsel Taskforce (FACT), an Unprecedented Pro Bono Litigation Effort to Hold Gun Industry Accountable

December 7, 2016 —Today, Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, and its partner organization the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, announced a bold new effort with seven top law firms, as well as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brennan Center for Justice, to fight gun violence. This new effort, the Firearms Accountability Counsel Taskforce (FACT), will be devoted to pursuing legal strategies to address America’s dire gun violence crisis and hold the gun industry responsible for unfair business practices that endanger public safety.

The law firms have committed hundreds of lawyers, thousands of hours, and millions of dollars to this effort, which will operate in tight coordination with ARS and the Law Center’s team of gun law experts. To date, FACT is comprised of Arnold & Porter; Covington; Dentons; Hogan Lovells; Munger Tolles & Olson; O’Melveny; and Paul, Weiss.

FACT’s strategy represents a turning point for the gun violence prevention movement. With the gun lobby spending a record $30 million in the presidential election to support Donald Trump, more than any other special interest, and an additional $20 million in 2016 Congressional races, achieving progress at the federal level has grown all the more challenging. By expanding the fight beyond Congress, which has failed to take meaningful action to save the more than 33,000 lives lost every year to gun violence, and into the justice system, FACT will be able to push back against the special treatment the gun industry has enjoyed for decades.

FACT’s strategy builds off the success of pro bono efforts by the private bar to commit leadership, support, and resources to ensure a more just, fair, equal, and safe society.

 FACT’s areas of focus will include:

  • Congressional restrictions on firearms-related information access
  • Misleading gun industry public statements, advertising, and marketing
  • Special immunity enjoyed by gun manufacturers and dealers
  • Laws that prevent local officials from keeping communities safe from gun violence
  • Dangerous, gun lobby-backed laws that make ordinary conflicts potentially deadly

“As our nation’s gun violence crisis claims over 33,000 American lives every year, the gun lobby has intimidated Washington into inaction,” said Congresswoman Giffords and Captain Kelly. “As gun owners, we know we can protect our rights and make our families safer, and that’s why we’re so excited to join with the top litigators and law firms in our country to form the Firearms Accountability Counsel Taskforce. Together, we will stand up to the gun lobby and put the safety of our communities above corporate profits.”

“As our firm and the private bar have shown, the only effective means of remedying an intractable social injustice in the face of concerted resistance is through an innovative legal strategy and the investment of substantial resources,” said Brad Karp, chair of Paul, Weiss, a key law firm partner in the Firearms Accountability Counsel Taskforce. “Working with several of our country’s leading law firms and our partners at Americans for Responsible Solutions, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the Brady Campaign, and the Brennan Center, we intend to mount a strategic response to address the gun violence epidemic that will be as well-resourced, coordinated, and forceful as the opponents’ efforts to avoid accountability have been. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have died needlessly because of gaps in our gun laws, and it’s time for the legal community to stand up and take collective action to address the plague of gun violence tearing apart our families and our communities.”

“The gun violence prevention movement has experienced tremendous momentum since the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary four years ago,” said Robyn Thomas, executive director of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “We’ve passed more smart gun laws in more states than ever before, we’ve won more ballot initiatives than ever before, and we’ve enjoyed more public support than ever before. Now, with the Firearms Accountability Counsel Taskforce, the movement is taking another major leap forward. The unprecedented commitment our law firm partners are making to this effort—hundreds of lawyers, thousands of hours, and millions of dollars—will be a game-changer in the fight for smart gun laws.”