Gabby Giffords Submits Written Testimony In Support of Delaware Senate Bill 83

June 10, 2015– In advance the Delaware Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing today on a bipartisan bill that will enact commonsense changes to Delaware laws to protect domestic violence victims and help reduce abusers’ access to firearms, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Co-Founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions, submitted the below statement today for the record in support of the legislation:

“Chairman Henry and distinguished members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony, and thank you for your consideration of this important legislation.

“Dangerous people with guns are a threat to women and families: criminals with guns, domestic abusers with guns, stalkers with guns. That makes gun violence a women’s issue – for women, for families, for you and your constituents.

“As a gun owner, I know that guns themselves are not the problem. The threat comes from dangerous people who have access to guns. And part of the responsibility that comes with being a gun owner is to keep guns away from people who will use them to intimidate, hurt, and kill the most vulnerable among us. This responsibility must be reflected in our laws.

“That’s why S.B. 83 is focused like a laser on keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. That’s why S.B. 83 protects not just spouses, but dating partners and cohabitants, too. That’s why S.B. 83 protects an abused woman when she is at the greatest risk, not just later on in the legal process.

“The facts are clear: When an abuser has access to a gun, the woman is five times more likely to be murdered. A domestic assault involving a gun is 12 times more likely to result in death than other types of domestic assaults. Which helps explain why American women are 11 times more likely to be killed with a firearm than women in similar countries.

“This bill strikes the balance – protecting women and families from danger and protecting the rights and traditions of the responsible and law-abiding.

“ Thank you for your service and consideration. Please support S.B. 83.”

The legislation, Senate Bill 83, which is co-sponsored by Democratic and Republican legislators, would protect victims of domestic violence and dating violence by helping prevent domestic abusers’ access to guns, without affecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding individuals. The bill would:

  1. Prevent individuals convicted of dating partner violence within the past five years from buying or owning guns. Current Delaware law prohibits people convicted of “misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence” within the last five years from possessing firearms, but this term does not include domestic abuse in a dating relationship. 12 other states already prohibit gun possession for convicted abusers of dating partners.

  2. Ensure people convicted of a violent against a former cohabitant (person who lived with the perpetrator during the past five years) can’t legally buy or own guns. Current Delaware law only prohibits gun possession by a person convicted of victimizing a cohabitant if they lived together at the time of the crime. This means that an abuser can still access guns if he or she is convicted of a crime that occurred after (or because) the victim moved out.

  3. Ensure people subject to an emergency Protection From Abuse order can’t buy guns. Nineteen other states already prohibit gun purchases by at least some people who are subject to ex parte domestic violence protective orders, which is when the risk of violence is often greatest.

  4. Help enforce existing law by requiring that people subject to a Protection From Abuse order, who have been instructed to surrender their firearms, identify to the court how they have done so.The bill would also help ensure that guns are surrendered pursuant to a PFA order by clarifying that the abuser must turn over these weapons immediately upon the request of a law enforcement officer or, if no request is made, within 24 hours at a staffed police station.

In advance of the hearing, Americans for Responsible Solutions also highlighted recent research showing broad support among Delaware voters for the bill’s key components. Among the research’s findings:

  • 70% support preventing individuals who have been convicted of domestic abuse against a dating partner from owning a gun, with 44% strongly supporting it.

  • 74% support preventing individuals who have been convicted of violent or threatening misdemeanors from owning a gun, including 47% who strongly support it.

  • 70% support prohibiting individuals who have a temporary domestic abuse restraining order from owning or possessing a gun, with 43% strongly support.

  • 77% of Delaware voters support requiring individuals who have been convicted of domestic abuse to turn in any guns they own to law enforcement, including 55% who strongly support it.

The research also found that nearly two-thirds of gun owners in Delaware support each of the bill’s main provisions. A summary of this new research can be found here.

Between 1996 and 2013, guns in Delaware were used in 40 homicides of intimate partners, and in 13 homicides of other people in domestic violence incidents (family members, children, and bystanders killed in these shootings).  Guns were also used in 17 domestic violence-related suicides. Fifty percent of fatal and near-fatal domestic violence incidents in Delaware involve a gun.

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.

Gabby Giffords & Mark Kelly Thank Oregon Legislators for Approving Bill to Keep Guns Away From Domestic Abusers

June 9, 2015 – 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 today after the bipartisan vote in the Oregon State House to approve House Bill 525, which helps close gaps in Oregon law by ensuring that individuals convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence or named in a restraining order that has been upheld in a court hearing can’t have legal access to guns. The bill, which had previously been approved by the Oregon Senate in a bipartisan vote, now heads to Governor Kate Brown. The victory comes on the heels of enactment of background checks legislation, for which Giffords, Kelly, and ARS had also advocated. Their statement:

“Once again, Oregon’s leaders came together to do the responsible thing: vote for commonsense solutions that keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people like domestic abusers. Republicans and Democrats stood up for a reasonable proposal that limit abusers’ access to guns and helps address the often deadly link between domestic violence and access to firearms. This law will protect victims of domestic violence in Oregon, and it will save lives. We look forward to Gov. Brown signing this bill into law and cementing another victory for common sense in Oregon.”

Last month, Congresswoman Giffords and Captain Kelly visited Salem’s Center for Hope and Safety, which serves survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and stalking, and called on lawmakers to pass the legislation and help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.

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 by their abuser if that individual has access to a firearm.

In New ARS Ad, Former Sheriff Urges North Carolinians to Tell Their Legislators to Protect Background Checks

June 7, 2015 – In a new 30-second TV ad titled “Safe” that begins airing today in North Carolina, former North Carolina Sheriff Wayne Gay urges North Carolinians to contact their legislators and tell them to oppose a bill before the legislature that would repeal background checks for handgun sales and open up new loopholes in the state’s gun laws.

Watch “Safe” here.

“As a sheriff for 28 years, I fought to keep our communities safe. But right now, some in the legislature want to repeal background checks on handguns. This will make it easier for criminals and the mentally ill to get guns,” says Gay, of Wilson, NC, in the ad. “When Missouri repealed their background check system, homicides shot up. I need your help. Tell the folks in Raleigh we need to keep background checks.”

Along with other changes weakening North Carolina’s gun laws, if enacted House Bill 562 would repeal 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.

The ad is being paid for by Americans for Responsible Solutions, and is airing on broadcast and cable. It is backed by a six-figure buy.

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.

For additional background information, click here.

TRANSCRIPT – “SAFE”:

FORMER SHERIFF WAYNE GAY: As a sheriff for 28 years, I fought to keep our communities safe. But right now, some in the legislature want to repeal background checks on handguns.

SUPER: Some legislators would repeal background checks.

WAYNE GAY: This will make it easier for criminals and the mentally ill to get guns. North Carolina sheriffs know that’s a terrible idea.

SUPER: NC law enforcement oppose repealing background checks.

WAYNE GAY: When Missouri repealed their background check system, homicides shot up.

SUPER: When Missouri repealed background checks, homicides increase dramatically.

WAYNE GAY: I need your help. Tell the folks in Raleigh we need to keep background checks.

SUPER: We need to keep background checks.

 

Gabby Giffords & Captain Mark Kelly Statement on House Passage of the FY2016 CJS Appropriations Bill

June 3, 2015– Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and retired Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, the Co-Founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions, issued the below statement today on the House’s passage of the Fiscal Year FY2016 Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill (H.R. 2578), which includes several special interest gun riders that weaken the very background check system the bill also invests in.

The FY2016 bill maintains funding for the National Instant Criminal Background Checks System (NICS) at the FY2015 enacted level of $73 million, the funding level that Americans for Responsible Solutions had advocated for to Appropriations Committee members. The bill also includes $1.25 billion for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), $49 million above the FY2015 enacted level.

However, the bill also contains several “riders” that will hinder the enforcement of existing laws. Notably, the bill includes an amendment that removes the requirement for law enforcement certification for individuals who set up gun trusts to acquire machine guns and other National Firearms Act (NFA) designated weapons.

Congresswoman Giffords’ and Capt. Kelly’s statement:

“We are pleased to see a bipartisan commitment to expanded funding for our background check system. This bill provides the full investment urged by Americans for Responsible Solutions and our supporters, and we hope that Republicans and Democrats can continue to come together to bolster our background check system and provide states resources for submitting records to the system, which is only as good as the records it contains.

“But it’s disappointing to see a bill so saddled with special interest gun riders that make it harder to enforce existing federal gun laws and that make our communities more dangerous places to live. We urge House and Senate negotiators to strip them from the final bill in conference. An appropriations bill – which must continue to invest in our nation’s criminal background check system – is no place to do the bidding of the corporate gun lobby on our nation’s gun laws.

“We are especially disappointed to see the House adopt an amendment that makes it easier for civilians who set up gun trusts to acquire firearms without the certification of a law enforcement officer in their community. Make no mistake: the net effect of this gun trust rider is to hamstring our law enforcement officers and make it easier for dangerous people to acquire machine guns – a result no legislator should be proud of.

“Even with this bill’s investment in life-saving background checks, there is still a lot more to do to fix our broken background check system – including closing the loopholes that allows dangerous people to buy guns without a background check or any questions asked. Americans for Responsible Solutions will continue to fight for closing these loopholes and making our communities safer from gun violence.”

ARS Statement on NJ Assembly Committee Hearing on Bill That Address Gaps in Current Law to Limit Domestic Abusers’ Access to Guns

June 1, 2015 – Hayley Zachary, the Executive Director of Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Capt. Mark Kelly, issued the below statement today on the Law and Public Safety Committee hearing on Assembly Bill 4218, which addresses potential gaps in New Jersey law and would help protect domestic violence victims from abusers with access to firearms. Hayley’s statement:

“In New Jersey and in communities around our country, guns and domestic violence don’t mix. The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will die. That’s why leaders on both sides of the aisle should come together around this bill, which addresses gaps in current New Jersey law and establishes effective procedures that will provide guidance and assurance to law enforcement, victims, and advocates. This commonsense legislation will help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous abusers and make New Jersey a safer place to live. We look forward to seeing this bill debated and passed along bipartisan lines.”

A4218 will help strengthen New Jersey’s laws 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 crime.

  • 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 crime.
  • Suspending the gun purchaser ID cards and permits of abusers;

  • Revoking such cards if an abuser is convicted of a domestic violence crime;

  • Requiring the cross-checking of records to determine if an abuser owns a firearm.

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 by their abuser if that individual has access to a firearm.

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