Gabby Giffords Responds to President Trump’s NRA Convention Speech

April 28, 2017 — Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Co-Founder of the gun violence prevention organization Americans for Responsible Solutions, released the below statement today following President Donald Trump’s speech at the NRA convention.

STATEMENT FROM CONGRESSWOMAN GIFFORDS

“It is possible to build a safer America, where the rights of law-abiding gun owners are protected and where everyone lives without fear of gun violence. But to do that, we need a president who is serious about finding solutions that will save lives and address the gun violence crisis that’s plaguing our nation. Unfortunately, that’s not the president we saw on stage this afternoon in Atlanta. An overwhelming majority of Americans — including the majority of gun owners — believe we should work together to take commonsense steps to prevent gun violence. It’s time for our elected officials to listen to the American people, protect our communities, and reject the gun lobby’s extreme agenda.”

 

NEW REPORT: Record-Breaking Gun Lobby Campaign Expenditures Fuel Dangerous Influence, Agenda

April 27, 2017 — Today, as the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) annual convention kicks off in Atlanta, Americans for Responsible Solutions released a new report, “Dangerous and Deceptive: The State of the Gun Lobby in 2017″. The report highlights the gun lobby’s dangerous agenda and influence over members of Congress as well as President Donald Trump, who is scheduled to speak at the convention on Friday and whose presidential campaign received $30 million from the NRA in 2016.

“The Washington gun lobby puts politics over safety and ideology over common sense,” said Peter Ambler, Executive Director for Americans for Responsible Solutions. “Their dangerous legislative agenda would dismantle commonsense, life-saving policies that an overwhelming majority of gun owners support. The gun lobby’s extreme agenda jeopardizes countless American lives and undermines law enforcement efforts to keep our communities safe. We need leaders who will stand up for the safety of America’s families, law enforcement, and veterans—not gun lobby profits.”

Spending more on campaigns in the past election cycle than ever before, the NRA is already at work pushing their dangerous agenda. This year, the Trump Administration has begun rolling back commonsense safeguards that have been proven to keep our communities safe from gun violence while gun lobby-backed bills are moving through Congress, threatening America’s public safety and law enforcement:

  • Federally Mandated Concealed Carry: would mandate that each state recognize concealed carry permits from every other state, undermining law enforcement and forcing states with strong gun laws to comply with extremely lax state laws.

  • Deregulating Silencers: would roll back a more than 80 year-old federal law that has prevented dangerous people from obtaining gun silencers, which mask muzzle flashes and the sound of gunfire, making it more difficult to locate an active shooter.

  • Risking Veterans’ Safety: would prohibit the Veterans Administration from reporting veterans with severe mental illnesses to the federal background check system, putting our veterans who need our support the most at risk. An average of 20 veterans die by suicide per day; two-thirds use a firearm to take their lives.

  • Guns in Schools: would repeal the Gun-Free School Zones Act, allowing firearms inside K–12 schools and permit college students and others to carry guns on campus. This ignores the truth about gun violence and pose a clear, demonstrable danger to our students, teachers, and communities.

At the convention, the gun lobby, their allies in Congress, and President Trump will back dangerous policies designed to boost the profits of gun manufacturers and corporate lobbyists at the expense of Americans’ safety.

Key Findings from the Report Include:

  • The NRA spent over $54.2 million in the 2016 election cycle to support pro-gun candidates and defeat proponents of sensible gun reform. This total is the most the NRA has ever spent in an election, dwarfing the $20 million spent in the 2012 election and the less than $30 million spent in the 2014 election.

  • The gun lobby’s agenda for 2017 is lethally dangerous for Americans. While the gun lobby aims to boost its profits, they would allow individuals who haven’t passed a background check —or even fired a gun before—to carry hidden, loaded firearms in crowded public spaces. They’re also trying to ease regulations on gun silencers, making them easily accessible to felons, domestic abusers, and people suffering a mental health crisis; as well as attempting to  eliminate gun-free school zones.

  • Just like Trump, the gun lobby is awfully cozy with Russia. The NRA opposes sanctions on Russia, is facing questions around the organization’s ties to Russia and Putin allies, and has dismissed President Trump’s obvious connections.

Read the full report here

NEW VIDEO: Americans for Responsible Solutions Releases New Digital Short “The Bulletproof Poster” as NRA Convention Kicks off in Atlanta

April 27, 2017 —One day before President Trump is set to speak at the annual NRA convention in Atlanta, a new digital video released today sheds light on the urgent need to close dangerous loopholes in federal gun laws that allow convicted felons, domestic abusers, and those experiencing a mental health crisis to easily obtain guns without a background check.

The digital short titled “The Bulletproof Poster” was released today by Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly.

Watch “The Bulletproof Poster”.

Every year, over 100,000 people are shot and over 33,000 people are killed with a gun. One of the key reasons America has such a high rate of gun violence is because of glaring loopholes in our laws that let dangerous people obtain guns. No gap is more glaring than the one in our federal background checks law, which allows felons, domestic abusers, and those experiencing a mental health crisis to purchase firearms at gun shows and over the internet without undergoing a background check.

The NRA used to be a strong supporter of closing the gaping loopholes in our nation’s background check system. In fact, testifying before Congress in 1999, NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre said, “We think it’s reasonable to provide mandatory instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show. No loopholes anywhere for anyone.”

However, today NRA leadership stands in strong opposition to background checks, despite the fact that gun owners overwhelmingly support the policy. In fact, a new survey, released this week by Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC, found that 80 percent of gun owners support requiring a background check on all gun sales.

The stance held by NRA leadership on background checks represents a larger disconnect between the views of gun owners and the priorities being pushed by the Washington gun lobby. The same poll found key federal legislative priorities named by the NRA, including federally mandated concealed carry, deregulating the sale of gun silencers, and eliminating gun-free school zones, receive very low support from gun owners themselves.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT BACKGROUND CHECKS

  • Under Federal Law, Criminal Background Checks Are Only Required at Licensed Firearms Dealers—Not Online or at Gun Shows. In 1993, Congress passed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which required background checks for people attempting to buy guns from federally licensed gun dealers and set up the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), a system of databases maintained by the FBI. The bill was signed into law by President Clinton in 1993 and went into effect in 1994. Today, under federal law, certain categories of dangerous individuals,, including convicted felons, domestic abusers, and mentally ill individuals deemed to pose a threat to self or others, 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 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. [Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 2012]

  • 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 Background Checks for All Handgun Sales Have Seen Reduced Rates of Gun Violence. In the states that have already require background checks for all handgun sales, 47 percent fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners, there are 47 percent fewer firearms suicides, and 53 percent fewer law enforcement officers are shot and killed in the line of duty. 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] [Webster, Crifasi, Vernick, 2014]

Statements: Legal Experts Encourage California State Legislature to Continue Funding CalGRIP Program That Has Effectively Reduced Gun Violence

April 25, 2017 — Today, attorneys from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, issued the below statements to encourage the California legislature to reauthorize funding for the California Gang Reduction, Intervention & Prevention (CalGRIP) program.

Mike McLively, Staff Attorney, Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and Americans for Responsible Solutions:

“The gun violence intervention and prevention strategies supported by CalGRIP are an important part of California’s overall violence prevention portfolio. Now is certainly not the time to pull back on these strategies. Other leading states on the issue of gun violence prevention, like New York, are increasingly committing state dollars to programs like this. If California is going to stay on top of gun violence, then we need to find a way to restore this critical funding source.”

Ari Freilich, Director of California Legislative Affairs, Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and Americans for Responsible Solutions:

“Commonsense gun policy reform has helped California cut its gun murder rate by a remarkable 60% in the last two decades. This state is a leader for public safety, but our work is not over. Particularly in underserved urban communities, a comprehensive preventive response is also required to address the root causes of violence and to interrupt entrenched cycles of shootings and retaliation. CalGRIP represents a critical, cost-effective investment in lifesaving counter-violence programs and works to ensure all Californians may live free from fear of violence. We’re proud to stand up for this important work today.”

About the California Gang Reduction, Intervention & Prevention (CalGRIP) Program

CalGRIP is one of the only sources of state-level funding for locally driven violence prevention strategies. In recent years, CalGRIP grantee cities across California, including Los Angeles, San Jose, and Oakland, have achieved lifesaving, cost-effective reductions in both violent crime and incarceration by implementing programs that provide focused outreach, counseling, and other services to youth identified as at-risk, and by developing coordinated agency responses to group-related retaliatory violence.

With its local matching requirement, CalGRIP has leveraged more than $18 million per year for violence intervention and prevention programs over the last decade. Eliminating this program could have dire consequences, particularly in under-resourced urban communities that need stronger and more targeted investment from the state to prevent gun violence.

About the Success of the CalGRIP Program

  • CalGRIP has provided Los Angeles $3 million over the past 3 years to help fund its Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD) program. Los Angeles has seen a 38% reduction in homicides and 46% reduction in aggravated assaults since launching GRYD in 2007.
  • Over the past three years, CalGRIP has provided the City of Richmond $1.5 million to help fund the Office of Neighborhood Safety—a city agency dedicated exclusively to the prevention of violence. Richmond has seen a 53% drop in gun homicides and a 45% drop in non-fatal shootings since ONS launched the Operation Peacemaker Fellowship program in 2010.
  • CalGRIP has provided $1.5 million to the City of Oakland to fund its Operation Ceasefire Project focused on reducing gun violence. Oakland has seen a 34% drop in gun homicides and a 39% reduction in non-fatal shootings since launching Operation Ceasefire in late 2012.
  • In less than two years, between January 2015 and September 2016, CalGRIP-funded programs provided more than 511,000 hours of prevention or intervention services to 54,750 Californians at risk of perpetrating or being victimized by violence.

New Poll: Gun Owners See the NRA as Out of Touch

April 25, 2017 – As the National Rifle Association (NRA) prepares to kick off its annual convention in Atlanta later this week, a new national survey of gun owners finds overwhelming opposition to the dangerous policies and positions supported by the Washington gun lobby. The poll, released today by Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC, also finds that a many gun owners believe that the NRA has become increasingly out of touch with them on important gun safety issues and shows that a majority of gun owners believe the NRA has lost its way, straying from its original purpose and mission.

“As a lifelong gun owner, I’ll be the first to say gun owners want our leaders to do more to save lives and make our communities safer,” said Captain Mark Kelly, co-founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions and husband of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. “When it comes to preventing gun violence, there are some things we can all agree on. Whether you are a Republican gun owner, a Democrat gun owner, or an NRA member – we can all agree that when guns end up in the wrong hands the results are devastating. It’s unacceptable that every day 91 Americans are killed by a gun. We’ve got to do better.”

The poll illustrates a disconnect between the views of gun owners and the priorities being pushed by the gun lobby. Key federal legislative priorities named by the NRA, including federally mandated concealed carry, deregulating the sale of gun silencers, and eliminating gun-free school zones, receive very low support from gun owners themselves.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • The NRA is out of touch with gun owners on gun safety issues. 67 percent of the gun owners feel that the NRA used to be an organization dedicated to gun safety, but it’s been overtaken by lobbyists and the interests of gun manufacturers and lost its original purpose and mission. Less than 50 percent of gun owners feel that the organization represents their interests.
  • Gun owners overwhelming support requiring a permit to carry concealed. Nearly 9 out 10 gun owners, 88 percent, believe the requirement to have a permit to carry a concealed handgun in a public place should remain in place.
  • By a 3 to 1 margin, gun owners do not want to deregulate the sale of silencers. Since the 1930s, the sale of silencers has been regulated the same way as machine guns and short-barreled rifles; to purchase a silencer buyers must have a clean criminal record and register the silencer with law enforcement. Nearly 3 out of 4 gun owners – 73 percent – support current law regarding the sale of silencers, while just 24 percent believe silencers should be deregulated.
  • Gun owners overwhelmingly support background checks and want to see elected officials do more to keep guns out of the wrong hands. 80 percent of gun owners support requiring a background check on all gun sales, including those sold online or at gun shows, while just 16 percent oppose them. 86 percent of gun owners support prohibiting anyone convicted of stalking or domestic abuse from buying a gun, and 85 percent of gun owners support prohibiting those on the federal terror watch list or no-fly lists from buying a gun.
  • A majority of gun owners support gun-free school zones. By a 2 to 1 margin, gun owners support laws, like the Gun-Free School Zones Act, that prevent guns from being carried in K-12 schools.
  • Gun owners are more likely to support politicians who support strong gun laws. 73 percent of gun owners are more likely to support a candidate who supports background checks for all gun purchases. 66 percent are more likely to support a candidate who supports gun violence prevention policies.
  • ​The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling, on behalf of Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC. The survey was comprised of 661 gun owners between April 19-20, with a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

Read the full poll results here.

Additional Background and Related Resources

Federally Mandated Concealed Carry: The NRA is working to pass a federal law mandating that each state recognize concealed carry permits from every other state. The problem is that standards for issuing permits to allow individuals to carry hidden, loaded firearms in public are dangerously lax in many states. Twelve states do not even require a permit to carry concealed firearms. Forcing states with strong gun laws like Oregon and New Mexico to comply with weak laws from states like Florida and Louisiana will endanger public safety and make it significantly harder for police to enforce gun laws that have proven to save lives. (Fact Sheet: Federally Mandated Concealed Carry)

Deregulating Gun Silencers: The gun lobby supports rolling back a federal law that’s been in place for over 80 years that prevents dangerous people from purchasing gun silencers. Silencers are added to guns to reduce the sound of gunfire and mask muzzle flash. They make it difficult for people who are nearby, including law enforcement, to identify the sound of gunshots and locate an active shooter. The gun lobby-backed bill would ease regulations on gun silencers, making these dangerous weapons easier to obtain – and inevitably making them more accessible to felons, domestic abusers, and people suffering a mental health crisis.(Fact Sheet: Gutting Federal Regulation of Silencers)

Ending Gun-Free School Zones: President Trump vowed to end gun-free school zones when he was on the campaign trail – and for years, one of the NRA’s top priorities in states has been to pass laws that allow firearms inside K–12 schools and permit college students and others to carry guns on campus. These irresponsible laws ignore the truth about gun violence and pose a clear, demonstrable danger to our students, teachers, and communities.(Fact Sheet: Repealing the Gun Free School Zones Act)