Gabby Giffords, Mark Kelly, and Local Leaders Announce New Bipartisan “Virginia Coalition for Common Sense” to Urge Virginia’s Elected Officials to Act to Reduce Gun Violence

March 29, 2016 – Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, the Co-Founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions, joined with Virginia leaders today at the State Capitol to announce a new coalition, the “Virginia Coalition for Common Sense.” The coalition’s members – which include gun owners, former law enforcement officials, veterans, faith leaders, domestic violence prevention advocates, former elected officials, prosecutors and business leaders  – will urge their elected officials to advance policies that help keep guns out of the wrong hands and prevent gun tragedies while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans to own firearms.

The coalition’s leaders will fight for commonsense solutions that will help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, like:

  1. Closing the loopholes in Virginia law that let felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill buy guns in Virginia without a criminal background check
  2. Strengthening the existing gun background checks system by ensuring Virginia’s leaders make critical investments in the reporting of records to the system, since our background check system is only as good as the data and records it contains.
  3. Ensuring lawmakers and stakeholders have the resources and training they need to help prevent gun violence and strengthen existing laws to keep guns out of dangerous hands.

Members of the Virginia Coalition for Common Sense include:

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Co-Founder, Americans for Responsible Solutions

Captain Mark Kelly, Co-Founder, Americans for Responsible Solutions

Ward Armstrong, Former Minority Leader, Virginia House of Delegates

James Ardent Barnett Jr., Retired Rear Admiral, United States Navy

John Bell, Retired Deputy Chief, Virginia Beach Police Department

Gary Creditor, Former Rabbi, Temple Beth-El

Mike Doucette, Commonwealth’s Attorney, Lynchburg

Cathy Easter, Executive Director, Safe Harbor

Conaway Haskins, Former State Director, U.S. Senator Jim Webb

Tim Heaphy, Former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia

Gail Kulisch, Retired Captain, United States Coast Guard

Frank LaPorta, Retired Captain, Virginia Beach Police Department

Kimberly Lettner, Former Chief, Virginia Capitol Police

Tyrone Nelson, Pastor, Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church

Marj Signer, Former Co-President, Virginia National Organization for Women

Charles Swadley, Retired Senior Pastor, Lakeside United Methodist Church

Carlos Del Toro, CEO, SBG Technology Solutions and Retired Commander, United States Navy

Katherine Waddell, Former Delegate, Virginia House of Delegates

“Stopping gun violence takes courage – the courage to do what’s right, and the courage of new ideas. I’ve seen great courage when my life was on the line,” said Congresswoman Giffords in a speech at this morning’s announcement. “Now is the time to come together – to be responsible! Democrats, Republicans – everyone.”

“Gabby and I are honored to join with so many leaders from across Virginia to fight for some commonsense change and safer communities,” said Captain Kelly, a Navy combat veteran and former NASA astronaut. “We have a gun violence problem in our nation that makes us stand out in the worst of ways. We have to do better. We can – and we must. We’ve all seen the bumper sticker: ‘Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.’ It’s true. And that’s exactly why our leaders need to do more to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners like Gabby and me. It’s the responsible thing to do.”

“Throughout my career as a federal prosecutor here in Virginia, I had a front row seat to the sad reality of gun violence in the Commonwealth.  I understand how dangerous people exploit the gaps in our laws to get their hands on guns. It makes no sense that current law allows felons, domestic and child abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill the option of buying a gun without a background check,” said Tim Heaphy, former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia. “The status quo is dangerous, and unacceptable. It’s time for our elected leaders in Virginia to do more to keep guns out of the wrong hands and give law enforcement and prosecutors the tools they need to reduce gun crime.  Common sense restrictions on access to firearms will make Virginia’s families safer.”

“As a former law enforcement officer in Virginia, I know all too well what guns can do when they fall into the wrong hands. I’ve seen the aftermath of gun tragedies, and it is not something you forget,” said John Bell, retired Deputy Chief, Virginia Beach Police Department. “So I’m honored to join this fight with Congresswoman Giffords, Captain Kelly and so many of my fellow Virginians because I know we can do better. I know we can do more to address guns getting into the hands of felons. I also know that we can do more to close the loopholes that allow guns in the hands of domestic abusers as well as those suffering the debilitating effects of mental illness,” said John Bell, retired Deputy Chief, Virginia Beach Police Department. All of these cases only serve to put our families and communities at greater risk of gun violence. I know we don’t have to choose between making our communities safer places to live and protecting the rights of responsible, law-abiding people.”

“As a proud veteran of our armed forces, I served to uphold our Constitution and the right of law-abiding Americans to own guns. I also know that along with the right of gun ownership comes some serious responsibilities. So now, as a Virginia business leader, I want to know our leaders are taking responsible steps to keep guns out of the wrong hands while protecting the rights of law-abiding Virginians and making our families and workplaces safer,” said Carlos Del Toro, CEO, SBG Technology Solutions and retired Commander, United States Navy. “I’m honored to join Gabby, Mark, and my fellow Virginians today for the launch of this new and badly-needed effort to build safer communities.”

“Guns and domestic violence are a deadly, tragic mix. We have seen time and time again how guns are used to intimidate, threaten, injure and end the lives of victims of domestic violence – and how abusers exploit the gaps in our laws to get their hands on guns. That’s one reason why more than half of all domestic violence-related deaths in Virginia involve a firearm. Our leaders must do more to make our communities safer and protect women and men and their families,” said Cathy Easter, Executive Director, Safe Harbor.

“Like so many Americans, I have been shocked by the gun violence that plagues our communities – and my views about what our leaders must do to address this gun violence have changed. In my experience as a Virginia legislator, too often the debate became a false choice pitting the rights of gun owners against the need for safer communities. We can have both,” said Ward Armstrong, the former Minority Leader of the Virginia House of Delegates. “Our leaders can and must close the loopholes that let felons and domestic abusers in Virginia buy guns without a criminal background check. Responsible changes to our laws won’t prevent every tragedy in Virginia, but they will prevent some, and that is worth it. To let those loopholes continue to exist is simply irresponsible.”

“I served Virginia as a Republican and an Independent Member of the General Assembly, and believe in the right to bear arms but I also believe in common sense legislation like background checks for gun purchases. Keeping guns out of the hands of criminals is not – and must not – be a partisan idea. Today is yet another sign that Republicans, Independents, and Democrats can come together in support of responsible solutions that help keep guns out of the wrong hands and save lives. It’s up to our leaders in Richmond to follow suit, do the right  thing and help build a safer Virginia,” said Katherine Waddell, Republican and Former Delegate, Virginia House of Delegates.

ABOUT GUN VIOLENCE IN THE UNITED STATES

Each Year, 32,000 Americans Die from Gun Violence. Every day, 88 Americans are killed with guns, and nearly 12,000 Americans are murdered with a gun each year. [WISQARS Injury Mortality Reports, 1999-2010]

Americans Are 20 Times More Likely To Be Murdered with a Gun Than People in Other Peer Countries. [Journal of Trauma, Injury, Infection, and Critical Care, 2011]

The Number of Shootings Is on the Rise. While the number of gun murders in the U.S. has remained constant, the number of shootings has been increasing. The number of non-fatal gunshot wounds rose more than 50 percent between 2001 and 2013. [Everytown for Gun Safety, 2014]

ABOUT GUN VIOLENCE IN VIRGINIA

Somebody Is Killed with a Gun in Virginia Every 10 Hours. In 2010 alone, there were 875 deaths from gun violence in the state. [Center for American Progress & Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence]

From 2001 to 2010, 8,262 People Were Killed with Guns in Virginia. That is more than one and a half times more than all U.S. combat deaths in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined. [Center for American Progress & Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence]

Over Half of All Domestic Violence-Related Deaths in Virginia Involve a Gun. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over half of all domestic violence homicide victims in 2011 were killed with guns. Firearms accounted for the murders of 549 women in Virginia from 2001 to 2010. [Center for American Progress & Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence]

ABOUT GUN LAWS IN THE UNITED STATES AND IN VIRGINIA

In Virginia, Criminal Background Checks Are Only Required at Licensed Firearms Dealers – Not Online and at Gun Shows. Today, under federal law, certain categories of dangerous individuals, known as prohibited purchasers, such as convicted felons, domestic abusers and some dangerously mentally ill people, 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 National Instant Criminal Background Check (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. Because Virginia law follows federal law, criminal background checks are required only at federally licensed firearms dealers, but not for private sales, including online and at gun shows. [Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 2015]

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 Criminal Background Checks for All Handgun Sales Have Seen Drops in Their Gun Violence Rates. In the seventeen states and the District of Columbia that already require background checks for all handgun sales, 46 percent fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners, there are 48 percent fewer firearms suicides and 48 percent fewer law enforcement officers are shot to death by handguns. 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, 2015][Everytown for Gun Safety, 2015][Everytown for Gun Safety, 2015][Webster, Crifasi, Vernick, 2014]

88% of Virginians Support Criminal Background Checks for All Gun Sales. According to research conducted in February 2016, 88 percent of Virginia voters support requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales. [Christopher Newport University, 2016]

85% of Americans Support Criminal Background Checks for All Gun Sales. According to research conducted in August 2015, 85% of Americans – including 79% of Republicans – support requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales. In research conducted in 2014, 92 percent of gun owners said they supported requiring background checks for all gun sales. [Pew Research Center, 2015] [Quinnipiac, 2014]

ARS Applauds Connecticut House Judiciary Committee for Vote Advancing Bill Limiting Domestic Abusers’ Access to Firearms

March 28, 2016 – Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, today applauded the Connecticut Joint Committee on Judiciary for advancing commonsense legislation, HB 5054, that will close the loophole in Connecticut law that allows people subject to temporary domestic violence restraining orders to legally buy and own guns.  

“The data is all too clear: There is a lethal and often tragic link between domestic violence situations and abusers’ access to firearms. Today, leaders in the Judiciary Committee came together to work to close the gap in current Connecticut law that puts women and their families at risk. It is a dangerous, irresponsible loophole that Connecticut’s leaders must close,” said Hayley Zachary, Executive Director of Americans for Responsible Solutions.

A recent survey of Connecticut voters conducted on behalf of Americans for Responsible Solutions found that 86 percent of Connecticut voters support closing the loopholes that allow people under temporary restraining orders to legally buy and own guns. Read more about the research here

While Connecticut law currently prohibits the possession of a firearm by a person who knows that he or she is subject to a permanent restraining or protective order, state law currently does not prohibit gun possession of a firearm by a person subject to a temporary, or “ex-parte,” protective order. 

HB 5054 would close that loophole so people subject to “ex-parte” protective order would no longer have legal access to firearms. 

The nexus of gun violence and domestic violence in Connecticut and around the country gained renewed focus by advocates and policymakers after the tragic death of Lori Jackson, a Connecticut resident who was shot and killed by her husband after she had obtained a temporary restraining order against him.

Congresswoman Giffords traveled to Connecticut last year to meet with leaders in the Connecticut legislature and domestic violence prevention community to discuss the nexus of gun violence against women and families, and to call for action on this issue and other commonsense proposals. Click here and here to read more.

As in the rest of the country, there is an often lethal link between domestic violence situations and an abuser’s access to firearms in Connecticut. Between 2000 and 2011, 175 people in the state of Connecticut were killed by an intimate partner, and 38 percent of these homicides were committed with a gun. In 2010, more than 90 percent of Connecticut domestic violence homicide victims were women. 

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 if their abuser has access to a firearm. 

Gabby Giffords, Mark Kelly and Delaware Leaders Announce New Bipartisan “Delaware Coalition for Common Sense” to Urge State’s Elected Officials to Act to Reduce Gun Violence

March 28, 2016 – Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, the Co-Founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions, joined with Delaware leaders today in Wilmington to announce a new bipartisan coalition, the “Delaware Coalition for Common Sense.” The coalition’s members – which include leaders from across sectors and parties – will urge their elected officials to advance policies that help keep guns out of the wrong hands and prevent gun tragedies while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans to own firearms.

The coalition will focus on commonsense solutions that will help make Delaware families safer from gun violence, like:

  1. Preventing people experiencing a mental health crisis from temporarily accessing gunsby providing clear processes for families and law enforcement to ensure that person can’t get their hands on a gun; and

  1. Strengthen the gun background check system by closing the dangerous “Charleston loophole” that allows gun sales to proceed automatically before a background check is completed, and ensuring that law enforcement are notified when dangerous people fail a criminal background check.

Delaware law currently also does not provide clear processes for families and law enforcement to temporarily prevent individuals experiencing a mental health crisis or other people at risk of committing violent acts – against themselves or others – from accessing firearms. Delaware also follows federal law, which allows FBI and ATF agents only three business days to investigate the potential purchaser. If a gun dealer has not been informed of a final determination after three days, the dealer is legally permitted to proceed with the sale. These default proceed sales, also known as the “Charleston loophole,” exemplify a glaring and dangerous gap in federal gun laws. Dylann Roof, the shooter who killed nine people at a Charleston church, was prohibited under federal law from purchasing his gun due to a disqualifying drug record that should have made it illegal for him to buy a firearm. Due to the fact that this determination was not made until after three days, the sale was able to proceed.

Members of the Delaware Coalition for Common Sense include:

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Co-Founder, Americans for Responsible Solutions

Captain Mark Kelly, Co-Founder, Americans for Responsible Solutions

Beverley Baxter, Former Academic and Human Rights Advocate

Robin Brinkley-White, Founder, Brandon Lee Brinkley Foundation, Inc.

Dennis Greenhouse, Former New Castle County Executive; Chair, Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence, Inc.

George Higgins, Executive Director, Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence

Gregory Jaskolka, Retired Philadelphia Police Officer and United States Marine

Frederika Jenner, Educator and Union Leader

Rev. Terrence Keeling, Pastor, Central Baptist Church

Mariann Kenville-Moore, Director of Advocacy and Policy, Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Inc.

Janet Kilpatrick, Councilmember, New Castle County Council

George Krupanski, President and Chief Executive Director, Boys and Girls Clubs of Delaware

Nolan Lewis, Commander, Delaware Chapter #94, National Association of Black Veterans

Jeffrey Lott, Communications Director, Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence

Maria Matos, Executive Director, Latin American Community Center

Jack Polidori, Vice Chair, Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence, Inc.

Darryl Scott, Director, Account Management, Sitel

Will Smith, Master Instructor, Organizational & Strategic Leadership

Liane Sorenson, Former Delaware State Senator and Chair, Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence Educational Fund

Sandy Spence, Advocacy Chair, League of Women Voters of Delaware

Stephanie Staats, Chief Executive Officer, YWCA of Delaware

Doris Thomas, Principal Organizer, Military Wives; Ex-Wives for Peace

“Stopping gun violence takes courage – the courage to do what’s right, and the courage of new ideas. I’ve seen great courage when my life was on the line,” said Congresswoman Giffords in her remarks at today’s announcement. “Now is the time to come together – to be responsible! Democrats, Republicans – everyone.”

“Gabby and I are honored to join with so many leaders from across Delaware to fight for safer communities and some commonsense change,” said Captain Kelly, a U.S. Navy combat veteran and former NASA astronaut. “We have a gun violence crisis in our country that makes us stand out in the worst of ways. We have to do better. We can – and we must. We’ve all seen the bumper sticker: ‘Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.’ It’s true. And that’s exactly why our leaders need to do more to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners like Gabby and me. It’s the responsible thing to do.”

“I’m honored to stand with Gabby, Mark and so many leaders from across Delaware to urge our leaders to do more to address the gun violence that is tearing so many of our communities apart. We cannot allow these epidemic levels of gun violence to become the new normal. Our leaders cannot allow it. We are asking them to act to save lives. I am honored to join in this fight for a safer Delaware,” said Rev. Terrence Keeling, Pastor of Central Baptist Church.

“I’ve been working on protecting Delaware’s domestic violence survivors for over two decades, and I was on the Delaware Domestic Violence Coordinating Council during my career as a legislator. Today is yet another sign that Republicans and Democrats can come together around responsible solutions that would make Delaware safer. Now, it’s up to our leaders in Dover to follow suit, be responsible and help build a safer Delaware,” said Liane Sorenson, Former State Senator and Chair, Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence Educational Fund.

“Nearly eight years ago, my son Brandon was murdered with a gun three days before his 25th birthday. No parent should ever have to bury a child from gun violence. Yet every 70 minutes, a child under the age of 25 dies from a gunshot wound in our country. As a state and as a nation, I know that we are better than this. I know that we can make it harder for dangerous people to access guns. And I know we can make our communities safer from gun violence,” said Robin Brinkley-White, Board Member, Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence. “The commonsense solutions that we are supporting here today might not have saved my child’s life, but it might save yours. That’s why I’m proud be part of the fight to make Delaware a safer place for our children and families.”

“As a proud veteran and former law enforcement officer, I know all too well the important role that guns can can play in the hands of responsible, law-abiding people – and I also know the kind of tragedy that can unfold when guns fall into the wrong hands,” said Gregory Jaskolka, a retired Philadelphia police officer and United States Marine. “That’s why our leaders need to be doing everything they can to keep guns out of the wrong hands. I’m joining in this fight with Congresswoman Giffords and Captain Kelly because I know we don’t have to choose between responsible changes to our laws and our rights.”

“Guns and domestic violence are a deadly, tragic mix. As someone who works with this issue first hand, I have seen how domestic abusers can use guns to intimidate, threaten, injure and end the lives of victims of domestic violence. Firearms threaten the safety of women and children when they fall into the hands of dangerous people like domestic abusers and stalkers. That’s one reason why nearly half of all domestic violence-related deaths in Delaware involve a firearm,” said Mariann Kenville-Moore, Director of Advocacy and Policy, Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “Our leaders can and must do more to make our communities safer.”

Delaware is proud to be among the growing list of states around the country that have taken bipartisan steps to limit abusers’ access to firearms. Last year, Congresswoman Giffords visited the Delaware State Capitol in May and called on lawmakers to pass SB 83 and help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. Americans for Responsible Solutions also supported the bill through an advocacy program that included that included digital advertising, grassroots organizing, mobilizing key supporters in Delaware urging them to tell their representatives to support the bill. Click here to learn more about Americans for Responsible Solutions’ work in Delaware.

ABOUT GUN VIOLENCE IN THE UNITED STATES

Each Year, 32,000 Americans Die from Gun Violence. Every day, 88 Americans are killed with guns, and nearly 12,000 Americans are murdered with a gun each year. [WISQARS Injury Mortality Reports, 1999-2010]

Americans Are 20 Times More Likely to Be Murdered with a Gun Than People in Other Peer Countries.[Journal of Trauma, Injury, Infection, and Critical Care, 2011]

The Number of Shootings Is On The Rise. While the number of gun murders in the U.S. has remained constant, the number of shootings has been increasing. The number of non-fatal gunshot wounds rose more than 50 percent between 2001 and 2013.[Everytown for Gun Safety, 2014]

ABOUT GUN VIOLENCE IN DELAWARE

Between 2001 to 2010, 782 People Were Killed with Guns in Delaware. Somebody is killed with a gun in Delaware every 4 days. In 2010, there were 88 gun deaths in the state. [Center for American Progress & Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence]

Nearly Half of All Domestic Violence-Related Deaths in Delaware Involve a Gun. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of all domestic violence homicide victims between 2003 – 2012 were killed with guns. Firearms accounted for the murders of 43 women in Delaware from 2001 to 2010. [Center for American Progress & Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence]

ABOUT DELAWARE’S GUN LAWS

Delaware Closed Loopholes in Federal Law To Help Protect Domestic Violence Victims From Abusers with Access to Firearms. Having closed the loopholes in our federal gun laws, Delaware currently prohibits individuals convicted of dating partner violence within the past five years from buying or owning guns. [Americans for Responsible Solutions]

Delaware Doesn’t Provide Processes for Families to Ensure Loved Ones Experiencing A Mental Health Crisis Don’t Have Easy Access to Guns. Delaware law currently also does not provide clear processes for families and law enforcement to temporarily prevent individuals experiencing a mental health crisis or other people at risk of committing violent acts – against themselves or others – from accessing firearms. [Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence]

“Charleston Loophole” Allows Gun Sales in Delaware to Proceed Even When Criminal Background Check Isn’t Complete. While 91% of background checks are processed instantly through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), 9% require further investigation before determining if the firearm transfer in question would violate federal or state law. But FBI and ATF agents are only allowed three business days to investigate the potential purchaser. If a gun dealer has not been informed of a final determination after three days, the dealer is legally permitted to proceed with the sale. These default proceed sales, also known as the “Charleston loophole,” exemplify a glaring and dangerous gap in federal gun laws. From 2010 to 2014 alone, 15,729 gun sales that should have been denied were allowed to take place through default proceeds because a final determination could not be made within the three day window. Dylann Roof, the shooter who killed nine people at a Charleston church, was prohibited under federal law from purchasing his gun but purchased his gun through this loophole. [Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence]

Americans for Responsible Solutions and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence to Join Forces

March 16, 2016 – Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS)—the national gun violence prevention organization founded in 2013 by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Navy combat veteran Captain Mark Kelly—and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence—the nation’s leading resource on firearms law and policy—announced today they are joining forces.

By uniting ARS’s legislative, communications, and advocacy expertise with the Law Center’s policy and legal expertise, the merger creates a powerful new force for gun safety legislation, research, education, communications, and advocacy under the leadership of Congresswoman Giffords and Captain Kelly, the leading voices in the movement to keep guns out of the wrong hands and save lives from gun violence.

The merger builds on collaboration between the two organizations that has won legislative victories in several states in 2015 and 2016; delivered defining new executive actions from President Obama to narrow loopholes and improve background checks; and has produced comprehensive resources for legislators and advocates, including a series of Commonsense Solutions Toolkits on topics like strengthening the background check system, keeping guns away from domestic abusers, and preventing unintentional shootings with smart policies that reduce children’s access to unsecured firearms.

The Law Center will now operate as part of Americans for Responsible Solutions Foundation, the 501(c)(3) arm of Americans for Responsible Solutions.

“We founded Americans for Responsible Solutions because we wanted to bring together uncommon voices to create some commonsense changes that make our communities safer. Since then, nearly one million Americans have joined us in the fight for responsible steps that keep guns out of the wrong hands,” said Congresswoman Giffords and Captain Kelly. “We are thrilled to be joining forces with our longtime partners at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. By coming together, we can do more to take on the gun lobby, deliver even more victories for common sense, and save lives.”

“For 23 years, the Law Center’s attorneys have crafted lifesaving gun safety legislation, defended smart gun laws in the courts, and educated the  public on the commonsense solutions to America’s gun violence epidemic,” said Robyn Thomas, Executive Director of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “By teaming up with Americans for Responsible Solutions, our legal experts will now have a much larger platform to help bring key policies like universal background checks to more states. Since ARS’s founding in 2013, our movement has experienced unprecedented momentum, with 125 new smart gun laws passed in 41 states. America is taking action to stand up to the gun lobby and save lives from gun violence, in large part due to the commitment of Gabby, Mark, and the rest of the ARS team, and we couldn’t be more excited to join forces with them.” 

“This merger unites the nation’s top gun safety messengers and advocates for commonsense changes to our laws with the people who have the deepest expertise on our nation’s gun laws and gun policy,” said Peter Ambler, 501(c)(4) Director of Americans for Responsible Solutions. “It’s a formidable combination that will lead the way on gun violence prevention for years to come.”

About Americans for Responsible Solutions

Founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS) is committed to advancing commonsense change that makes communities safer from gun violence and encouraging elected officials to advance responsible firearms policies. Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC is committed to helping elect candidates from both parties who support commonsense laws that make communities safer from gun violence. Learn more at responsiblesolutions.org and at @Resp_Solutions.

About the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence

Founded in the wake of the July 1, 1993, assault weapon massacre at 101 California Street in San Francisco that left eight dead and six wounded, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is now the premier resource for legal expertise and information regarding state and federal firearms laws. Made up of the foremost gun law attorneys in the nation, the Law Center tracks and analyzes firearms legislation in all 50 states, files amicus briefs in critical Second Amendment cases across the country, and works with lawmakers and advocates to craft and promote legislation that will reduce gun violence and save lives. We regularly partner with other nonprofit organizations dedicated to combating the epidemic of gun violence in our country, and we invite you to explore our website, smartgunlaws.org, and to follow us on Twitter at @smartgunlaws to learn more about our work and deepen your knowledge about gun laws in America.

ARS Applauds the NJ Senate’s Bipartisan Vote to Advance Bill that Addresses Gaps in Current Law to Limit Domestic Abusers’ Access to Guns

March 14, 2016 – Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and former NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, today applauded bipartisan vote in the New Jersey Senate approving S805, which addresses potential gaps in New Jersey law to help protect domestic violence victims from abusers with access to firearms.

“Today, leaders in the New Jersey Senate voted to close a lethal loophole that gives domestic abusers easy access to guns,” said Robin Lloyd, State Legislative Director for Americans for Responsible Solutions. “We are grateful to Senator Weinberg for her leadership on this important issue and to all who stood up for this responsible legislation that will help protect New Jersey women and families from gun violence. We hope that leaders in the House do the responsible thing: follow the Senate’s lead, pass this life-saving bill, and send it to Governor Christie’s desk without delay.”

S805 will 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 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.

Last 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 AlabamaLouisiana, NevadaOregonSouth CarolinaVermontWashingtonWisconsin, and Delaware.

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]

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