Mark Kelly Statement on Attempts in Iowa to Repeal Background Checks

March 18, 2015 – Captain Mark Kelly, Co-Founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions and retired NASA astronaut, issued the following statement today in response to a bill moving forward in the Iowa legislature, SB 425, which would weaken Iowa’s gun laws by making background checks optional before buying a handgun and make it easier for convicted felons and domestic abusers to access guns:

“I urge Iowa’s leaders to reject this irresponsible bill, which would take Iowa backwards – and make its communities less safe. This bill would give dangerous people like convicted felons and domestic abusers a new choice: whether they want to undergo a background check before buying a handgun. Why would Iowa’s leaders give them that choice?” said Captain Mark Kelly, Co-Founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions. “The evidence is clear: states where background checks are required on gun sales, no matter where they’re bought, are safer places to live. The evidence is also clear that the lawmakers pushing this reckless legislation are out of step with the vast majority of Iowans. I urge Iowa’s leaders to listen to their constituents, do the responsible thing, and help keep guns from falling into the wrong hands.”

BACKGROUND ON IOWA’S GUN LAWS, SB 425, AND BACKGROUND CHECKS

Iowa Law Requires A State & Federal Background Check Before Getting A Permit to Buy A Gun. Federal law requires people who buy guns at a licensed dealer to pass a background check, but allows guns to be bought online and at gun shows without a background check. However, Iowa law currently fills some of these gaps – requiring anyone who wants to buy a handgun to obtain a “permit-to-purchase.” To be issued a “permit-to-purchase” in Iowa, people must pass a state and federal background check. The permit may not be used for three days after it has been issued, and it is only valid for one year.

The Bill Moving Through The Iowa Legislature, SB 425, Would Make Create Loopholes That Let People Get a Gun without a Background Check. Most dangerously:

  • Handgun buyers would no longer be required to undergo a background check before getting a gun from an unlicensed seller. SB 425 would make “permit-to-purchase” optional, which would not prevent criminals from getting guns. This would make it easy for people who can’t pass background checks, like convicted felons and domestic abusers, to buy handguns.

Research Shows Iowans Want Expanded Background Checks. Research of Iowa voters’ attitudes about gun laws conducted in 2014 on behalf of Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC found widespread support for background checks on gun sales. Among the research’s findings:

  • 84 percent of Iowans support requiring background checks for all gun sales;

  • Only 8 percent of Iowans want weaker gun laws; and,

  • More than two-thirds of Iowans say that background checks can help reduce gun violence in their communities.

States with Background Checks Have Seen Huge Public Safety Benefits. In the seventeen states and the District of Columbia that already require background checks for all handgun sales, data shows that:

  • 46 percent fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners;

  • 48 percent fewer firearms suicides and,

  • 48 percent fewer law enforcement officers are shot to death by handguns.

States That Repeal Background Checks Have Become More Dangerous Places. When Missouri repealed a similar permit-to-purchase background check law in 2007 that required background checks on all handgun sales, gun homicides increased by 23 percent in the state. According to a recent study from Johns Hopkins, that change alone resulted in between 55 and 63 additional homicides per year.

Gabby Giffords Urges Stronger Laws That Protect Women & Families in Trenton, NJ

March 18, 2015 – Speaking today at a roundtable event in the the New Jersey State House, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera and leaders in New Jersey’s domestic violence prevention community urged state legislators to pass stronger laws that protect women and families from gun violence, including a proposal currently before the New Jersey State Legislature that would close the current loophole in state law that allows individuals convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence and subject domestic violence protection orders to continue to legally possess guns.

”Dangerous people with guns are a threat to women. That makes gun violence a women’s issue – for mothers, for families, for me and you,” said Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Co-Founder of the gun violence prevention group Americans for Responsible Solutions. ”Women can lead the way. Together, we can change our laws. Please, join your voice with mine.”

“Gun violence perpetrated against women often stems from domestic violence incidents that escalate and turn tragic,” said Weinberg (D-Bergen).  “We have to do more to protect the lives of women and children who find themselves in a dangerous family situation. By creating stronger laws that limit abusers’ access to firearms we will better protect victims against preventable and, too often, fatal gun violence. I want to thank Congresswoman Giffords and all of those who joined us today to advance this effort.”

“For victims and their children, domestic violence turns a chance to live the American Dream into a horrific nightmare. I know, because I’ve lived that nightmare,” said Mosquera (D-Gloucester/Camden). “Too many victims are killed before they ever have a chance to get out, at the hands of abusers who have easy access to firearms.  This legislation will change that – strengthening our gun violence laws in order to protect victims of domestic violence.”

”It was an honor to join Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords for this critical discussion of what our leaders can do to help protect New Jersey women and their families from gun violence,” said Dr. Sarah McMahon, Assistant Professor and Associate Director, Rutgers Center on Violence Against Women and Children. ”Today’s conversation was an important step on the road to making our families and communities safer.”

Guns and domestic violence are a lethal mix in New Jersey, and guns play a major role in violence against women by intimate partners. There were 269 domestic violence homicides in New Jersey from 2003-2012 and nearly one-third of these homicides involved firearms. In 2011, over 53 percent of female homicide victims in New Jersey were killed in domestic violence incidents.

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.

Gabby Giffords: Women important to push against gun violence

Gabby Giffords: Women important to push against gun violence

Associated Press

March 18, 2015

Former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords met with Gov. Chris Christie in New Jersey on Wednesday after a talk with lawmakers, residents and advocates about how to protect women from gun violence.

Giffords sat down for a round-table discussion at the Statehouse and talked to the governor afterward behind closed doors for about a half hour.

During the public discussion, Giffords said dangerous people with guns are a threat to women and women can lead the way on changing the laws.

The meeting came about after state Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation requiring convicted domestic abusers to surrender their guns. It drew a dozen women, including Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera.

Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts said in a statement: “Governor Christie has incredible respect and admiration for the courage and perseverance of former Congresswoman Giffords and he was honored to have the opportunity to meet with her this afternoon and discuss domestic violence and gun violence issues.”

Giffords survived a gunshot to the head on Jan. 8, 2011, when a man opened fire in Tucson, Arizona, killing six people.

She and her husband, Mark Kelly, launched Americans for Responsible Solutions in 2012, and have traveled the country pushing for legislation to address gun violence.

Oregon Medical Professionals Urge State Legislators To Close Loophole In State’s Background Check Laws, Help Reduce Gun Violence

March 25, 2015– More than 100 of Oregon’s medical professionals – including doctors, nurses, and public health specialists – delivered a letter today to state lawmakers urging them to take action to reduce gun violence, including passing a law that would close the current loophole that allows people in Oregon to buy a gun without a background check.

The Oregon medical professionals, including a number who personally lobbied state lawmakers in Salem today, also urged action on laws that would help stop domestic abusers from accessing firearms, and ensure gun owners with children in their home store their firearms safely.

”Gun violence has reached epidemic proportions in our state and nation and should be understood and treated as a public health crisis.  We see the tragic result of these policy failures in our work,” read the letter delivered to state legislators today. ”As doctors, nurses, mental health specialists and other health professionals, we are writing a prescription, based on the evidence.”

The medical professionals who signed the letter as well as those advocating directly to legislators in Salem today are supporters of Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, retired Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly.

”Time and time again, I have seen firsthand the tragic result when guns end up in the wrong hands,” said Dr. Bonnie New of Hood River, one of the medical professionals meeting with lawmakers today in Salem. ”We need commonsense changes to require background checks on all gun purchases, no matter where they take place or who the seller is, to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.”

”As a doctor here in Oregon, I understand the importance of data, and the data is clear that the number of fatalities and injuries from gun violence has reached epidemic proportions,” said Dr. Diane Whitney of Portland. ”One reason why we have a gun violence problem is because we have weak laws. Medical professionals and even responsible gun owners here in Oregon know how dangerous firearms can be in the wrong hands. That’s why it’s time for our lawmakers to close the loophole that lets dangerous people get guns.”

”As a doctor who has seen far too many people injured and killed by gun violence, I know just how important it is to keep dangerous guns out of the wrong hands,” said Dr. John Santa of Portland. ”So I urge our legislators in Salem to seize this chance to strengthen our state’s gun laws by requiring background checks on gun sales no matter where they are conducted, ensuring gun owners with children in their home keep their firearms safely stored, and ensure domestic abusers don’t have easy access to guns. As a doctor, I think these small, commonsense changes to our laws are the responsible thing to do and will be good for the public health.”

”Commonsense changes to our gun laws can help keep guns out of the wrong hands and more Oregonians out of our hospitals,” said Dr. Marcia Kerensky of Portland. “Now is the time for Oregon lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to come together to make our communities safer from gun violence.”

A recent survey of registered Oregon voters conducted on behalf of Americans for Responsible Solutions found that a broad majority of Oregonians – including gun owners – support expanded background checks for gun sales. Among the survey’s findings: 87 percent of Oregon voters support expanded background checks on gun sales, with 70 percent saying they strongly support them; and 83 percent of Oregon gun owners support expanded background checks on gun sales. Click here to read a memo on the research’s findings.

Under current law in Oregon, individuals must pass a background check before they can buy a gun from a licensed firearm dealer and at gun shows. While individuals can request a state background check before selling a gun to another person, Oregon does not require unlicensed sellers to conduct a background check when transferring a gun to another person.

The full letter delivered today to Oregon legislators follows:

March 17, 2015

Dear Legislator:

We are Oregon health professionals. We care deeply about the health of our communities and believe we must employ sound public policy to protect the public health. This approach is critical to reducing gun deaths and injuries in Oregon and across America.

Gun violence has reached epidemic proportions in our state and nation and should be understood and treated as a public health crisis. A public health approach has been successful in reducing death and disability from infectious diseases, automobile accidents, unsafe food, and consumer products. But similar strategies have not been put in effect to address injuries and fatalities from firearms. We see the tragic result of these policy failures in our work. Here in Oregon, there are more fatalities a year from firearms than from motor vehicle traffic accidents or unintentional poisoning.

As doctors, nurses, mental health specialists and other health professionals, we are writing a prescription, based on the evidence. We call for the following legislative actions in the 2015 Oregon Legislative Session:

  • Establish universal background checks to close the loopholes that give criminals, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill easy access to guns.

  • Ensure gun owners who have children present in their households store firearms safely to prevent unpermitted children’s access to firearms.

  • Prohibit people convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors and/or subject to a domestic violence protection order from possessing firearms.

Each of these common sense policies is already in place in a number of other states; each has been shown to reduce gun deaths and injuries. The Oregon public, health professionals, and most gun owners alike strongly support these measures.

It is time for the Legislature to take action to confront the epidemic of gun violence in our communities. Please join us in supporting these proposals.

Sincerely,

Bonnie New, MD
James Scott, MD
Don Olson, MD

Henry Garrison, MD
Ken Serkownek, PhD
Erin Brender, MD
Paul Metzger, PhD
Natsha Markovich, Grief Counselor
Lynn Boshov, MD
Michael Veverka, MD
Richard Lazere, PhD
Judith Lienhard, RN
David Maceira
Fookson Maxine, PNP
Annie McCuen
Joan Nugent, RN, MN
Jenny Pompilio, MD
Bonnie Reagan, MD
Casey Schnaible
Mary Sievertsen
William Noonan, MD
Lina Bjerke, PharmD
Arthur D  Hayward, MD
Robert H. Moore, MD
Honora  Englander, MD
Chrissie Ott, MD
Mary Ellen Morrison, PA C
Christopher Hall, PA C
Lyle J  Fagnan, MD
Anne Santa, PhD
John Santa, MD
James Gajewski, MD
Martin Donohoe, MD, FACP
Virginia Feldman, MD
Steven Gilbert, PhD, DABT
Carolyn Jean Guidry
Laura Hanks, PA-C
Andrew Harris, MD
Rose-Ellen Hope, RPh
John Howeison, MD
Sandra Joos, PhD
Marjorie Kircher, MS, OTR
Rudy Greene, MD, FACR
Ben  Kenargy, MD (Retired)
Thomas Flath, MD
Sherry Archer, MSN
Sonia Buist, MD, PhD
Jessica Burness, MD
Stephen Couche, MA
Margaret Denison
Diane Winn, RN, MPH
Sharon Doggett, CPC, PRC
Gabriel Ledger, MD
William Whitaker, PhD Psychologist
Michael C. Huntington, MD
Eugene J. Uphoff, MD
Karen Erde, MD
Evan Saulino, MD
Gene Stubbs, MD
Caroline Resari, LCSW
Lisa Riesterer, FNP
Samuel Metz,  MD
Thomas Stibolt, MD
Charles Spray, MD
James Santoro, MD
Dennis Lees, PhD, MSW
Jim Carson, PhD
Michael Morich, MD
Bonnie Holstein, Psy D
Martha Perez, Care Giver
Peter Auerbach, MD
Tatum Sohlberg, MD, MPH
Peter Spencer, PhD
Karen Steingart, MD, MPH
Jay Thiemeyer
Maye Thompson, RN, PhD
David Toffey
Theodora Tsongas
Debra Vajda, LCSW
Frances Storrs, MD
David S. Nichols, Ph.D. Psychologist
Nathan K.  Boddie, MD
Martin L Jones, MD
Sheri Malstrom, RN
Alan  Helyer, RN
Bru Mills, RN
Bruce  Humphreys, RN
Jean  Donovan, RN
Kindra  Scanlon, FNP
Carol  Blenning, MD
Mark  Evans, PhD
Jennifer Bevacqua, NP
Paul Hochfield, MD
Tom Ewing, MD
Joseph Eusterman, MD
Peter Mahr, MD
Kathy Blaustein, MPH
R Bryan Goodin, MPH
Diane Whitley, MD
Merilee Karr, MD
Brenna Lewis, MD
Leigh C Dolin, MD
Susan Katz, MD
Phil Newman, MD
Bill Harris, MD
Jane Payne, MD
Anne Wilson, DC
Frank Erickson, MD
James Grant, MD
Gregory  Blaschke, MD,MPH, FAAP
Ben Hoffman, MD, FAAP
Judith Potts, MD, FAAP
Kenneth Carlson, MD
Paul Stromberg, MD
Judith Fardig, RN, MSN
Gary Pederson, MD
Crystal Query, MD
Sally Godard, MD
Antonio Germann, MD, MPH
Marcia Kerensky, MD
 ###

Gabby Giffords Urges Legislators to Pass Stronger Laws That Protect Connecticut Women & Families from Gun Violence

March 24, 2015 – Speaking today at a press conference in the Connecticut State Capitol, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey, Connecticut Senate President Martin Looney, and leaders in Connecticut’s domestic violence prevention community urged state legislators to pass stronger laws that protect women and families from gun violence, including a proposal currently before the Assembly that would close the loophole in state law that allows recipients of temporary restraining orders to legally buy and own guns.

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 obtaining a temporary restraining order against him.

While Connecticut law prohibits the possession of a firearm by a person who knows that he or she is subject to a restraining or protective order that was issued after notice and an opportunity to be heard in a case involving the use or attempted use or threatened use of physical force against another person, state law currently does not prohibit gun possession of a firearm by a person subject to an “ex-parte” protective order.

”Dangerous people with guns are a threat to women. That makes gun violence a women’s issue – for mothers, for families, for me and you,” said Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Co-Founder of the gun violence prevention group Americans for Responsible Solutions. ”Women can lead the way. Together, we can change our laws. Please, join your voice with mine.”

This is Congresswoman Giffords’ second visit to Connecticut in the last six months to urge action. This fall, Congresswoman Giffords traveled to Connecticut for a roundtable discussion with local women leaders to discuss the lethal nexus of guns and domestic violence, and the need for stronger state and federal laws.

”This isn’t a Democrat or Republican initiative – it is, simply, a logical one. We have a moral obligation to protect women and families from gun violence. This is about saving lives, and with this commonsense legislation, we will be able to more effectively do just that,” said Governor Malloy.

”It is beyond dispute that one of the most dangerous times in an abusive domestic relationship is the period immediately following the service of a temporary restraining order,” said Senate President Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven).  ”This is a critical reform that will better protect victims of domestic violence and save lives.”

”Temporarily removing firearms as part of a restraining order should be a no-brainer, particularly when you consider this is a volatile time period that everyone agrees is potentially the most dangerous for a victim,” said Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden). ”A judge issues a restraining order, it’s lawful, it’s temporary, no one’s rights are being taken away, but lives will be saved.”

”Connecticut averages 14 intimate partner homicides annually with the majority of those deaths occurring through gun violence,” said Karen Jarmoc, chief executive officer at Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. ”The period immediately following a victim’s application for a restraining order is often the most dangerous time. If a judge sees fit to issue a temporary order due to the existence of physical violence, there does exist cause for policies to immediately remove firearms.”

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

In 2013, Congresswoman Giffords founded Americans for Responsible Solutions, a gun violence prevention organization, along with her husband, Capt. Mark Kelly, a retired Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut.

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