ARS Responds To House Appropriations Subcommittee Markup Of FY18 Commerce, Justice, Science Bill

June 29, 2017 — Today, Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, issued the below statement following the House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee’s markup of the FY18 Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill. The bill includes $73 million for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which is consistent with the FY17 level, and $1.3 Billion for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which is $35 million above the FY17 enacted level. However, the bill also contains several harmful “riders” that will hinder the enforcement of existing laws. Most notably, the bill includes a rider that would hinder ATF’s ability to identify potential gun traffickers.

Robin Lloyd, Director of Government Affairs, Americans for Responsible Solutions:

“We are pleased to see a bipartisan commitment to funding our nation’s background check system and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that works to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals and make our communities safer. We hope that leaders on both sides of the aisle can continue to come together to bolster our nation’s background check system and give states the resources they need to help submit records into the system.

“But it’s disappointing to see the Washington gun lobby use this bill as a vehicle to advance a series of permanent gun riders that make it harder to enforce existing federal laws and that would make our communities more dangerous places to live. We hope the full Appropriations Committee will do the responsible thing and remove these harmful riders from the final Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill.”

About The Harmful Gun Riders In The CJS Bill

Section 537 would hinder the ATF’s ability to fight gun trafficking in Mexico by preventing ATF from requiring gun dealers to report multiple sales of certain weapons to ATF. As a result, this rider would make it easier for gun traffickers to buy certain semiautomatic rifles, which are preferred by the Mexican drug cartels.

Section 530 would make permanent a rider that prohibits ATF from denying an application to import a new model of shotgun. This would limit the ATF’s ability to minimize the risk of dangerous, serviceable shotguns from entering the United States and potentially ending up the in the hands of criminals.

Section 517 would make permanent a rider that prohibits ATF from denying an application to import U.S. origin curios and relics. “Curios and relics” are firearms that are of special interest to collectors, including those manufactured more than 50 years ago. Many dangerous assault rifles were manufactured for military use before 1967 and therefore fall within the definition of curios and relics.

ARS Denounces Pennsylvania Senate Vote To Put Guns In Schools, Calls On The House To Reject Dangerous Bill

June 29, 2017 — Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, issued the following statement on the Pennsylvania Senate’s passage of Senate Bill 383, a dangerous new proposal that would allow school personnel to carry loaded firearms in schools.

STATEMENT BY NICO BOCOUR, STATE LEGISLATIVE MANAGER, AMERICANS FOR RESPONSIBLE SOLUTIONS:

“Guns have absolutely no place in our schools. Yet the Pennsylvania Senate passed a dangerous gun lobby-backed bill that would make it easier for loaded guns to enter Pennsylvania’s classrooms. This irresponsible bill ignores the truth about gun violence and poses a clear, demonstrable danger to our students, teachers, and communities. We urge the House to help keep Pennsylvania’s classrooms gun-free and reject this extreme proposal.”

School shootings are so shocking because schools are generally safe havens from the violence that is so frequent elsewhere in this country. Laws establishing gun-free school zones have significantly reduced gun violence in these areas—school associated student homicide rates decreased dramatically after the enactment of federal laws prohibiting guns on the grounds of K–12 schools. Gun lobby efforts to allow guns into schools are dangerous and counterproductive to public safety. Read more about the dangers of guns in schools here.

ABOUT SB 383

If passed, SB 383 would allow the board of school directors in a public K-12 school district to “establish a policy permitting school personnel access to firearms in the buildings or on the grounds of a school.” The bill also states that the identity of specific school personnel who are permitted to access firearms may not be disclosed at open meetings and are not subject to a separate “right-to-know” law.

ABOUT PENNSYLVANIA’S GUN LAWS

Pennsylvania does not require a background check when an unlicensed person sells a rifle or shotgun or require gun owners to report if their guns are lost or stolen. Pennsylvania also fails to provide local law enforcement with the discretion to deny a license to carry firearms. In every year from 2006 through 2009, Pennsylvania was one of the top ten interstate suppliers of crime guns. Learn more about gun laws in Pennslyvania at http://smartgunlaws.org/gun-laws/state-law/pennsylvania/

RELEASE: New Quinnipiac Survey Shows Only 35% Of Voters Believe The U.S. Would Be Safer If More People Carried Guns

June 28, 2017 — A new survey released today by Quinnipiac University finds further evidence that very few Americans believe the long perpetuated gun-lobby talking point that arming more people will make the U.S. safer. According to the Quinnipiac survey, just 35 percent of Americans believe the U.S. would be safer if more people carried guns.

“The fact that just 35 percent of voters believe our communities would be safer if more people were armed is yet another clear sign that the American public stands in opposition to the gun lobby’s extreme agenda.” said Peter Ambler, Executive Director, Americans for Responsible Solutions. “Instead of working to pass dangerous policies that threaten public safety, like federally mandated concealed carry, our nation’s elected leaders should instead listen to the overwhelming majority of Americans who want to close the loopholes in our background check system that give convicted felons and domestic abusers easier access to guns. It’s time for Congress to listen to the American people and take action to make our communities safer.”  

Key findings from the Quinnipiac survey include:

  • Few Americans believe the U.S. would be more safe if more people carried guns. Just 35 percent of voters believe the U.S. would be a safer place to live if more people carried guns.

  • Americans overwhelmingly support background checks. 94 percent of voters support background checks for all gun buyers, including 93 percent of Republicans.

  • Americans believe it’s too easy to buy a gun today. 57 percent of voters believe it’s too easy to buy a gun in the U.S. today.

The survey was conducted by Quinnipiac University. The survey was comprised of 1,212 gun owners between June 22-27, with a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percent. Full survey results are available here.

To speak with a gun violence prevention expert, contact Katie Peters at KatieP@responsiblesolutions.org.

Gun Safety Organization To Honor Former US Attorney General Eric Holder, Gun Safety Advocates For Fighting For Safer Communities

June 27, 2017 — Tonight, at their 24th Annual Anniversary Dinner, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence will honor former US Attorney General Eric Holder as one of several distinguished gun violence prevention champions. Each year, the Law Center’s Anniversary Dinner honors the exceptional efforts of a few key individuals for their outstanding leadership in the gun violence prevention movement.

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a partner organization of Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, organizes the dinner as a unique opportunity to bring together attorneys, business professionals, lawmakers, and advocates from across the country to recognize the movement’s champions, celebrate the Law Center’s remarkable achievements, and support the fight for gun laws that save lives.

In recognition of his outstanding leadership in the gun violence prevention movement, former US Attorney General Eric Holder will receive the 2017 Courageous Leadership Award. In admiration of their courage and commitment to preventing more families from suffering the loss of a child to gun violence, Pam and Tom Bosley, whose teenage son was shot to death in Chicago church parking lot, will receive the 2017 Lifesaving Service Award. Law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP will also receive the 2017 Richard W. Odgers Pro Bono Partner Award in recognition of the essential role they have played in creating the Firearms Accountability Counsel Taskforce, a bold new partnership between the private bar and the gun violence prevention movement.

“We are honored to recognize the tremendous achievements that these outstanding gun violence prevention champions have made to our country,” said Robyn Thomas, executive director of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “Each of these award recipients has made a lasting impact that has made our nation a better, safer place to live. We thank these individuals for their service and look forward to honoring their courage and commitment to fighting our nation’s gun violence crisis.”

About The Honorable Eric H. Holder Jr., Recipient Of The 2017 Courageous Leadership Award:

The Honorable Eric H. Holder Jr. served as the 82nd Attorney General of the United States from February 2009 to April 2015. Under his leadership, the Justice Department committed much-needed resources to cities and states grappling with the gun violence crisis and implemented many of President Obama’s executive actions on rearms that followed in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre. In recent years, Mr. Holder has been an outspoken and insightful advocate for the legislative and community-based solutions that we craft, enact, and support at the Law Center.

As the third-longest serving attorney general in US history and the first African American to hold that office, he is an internationally recognized leader across a broad range of regulatory enforcement, criminal justice, and national security issues. In 2014, TIME named Mr. Holder to its list of 100 Most Influential People, noting that he had “worked tirelessly to ensure equal justice.” Including his tenure as attorney general, Mr. Holder has served in government for more than 30 years, having been appointed to various positions requiring US Senate confirmation by Presidents Obama, Clinton, and Reagan. Mr. Holder returned to the law firm of Covington & Burling after his service as attorney general, where he advises clients on complex investigations and litigation matters.

In recognition of his willingness to fight for responsible gun laws, Mr. Holder will receive the Law Center’s 2017 Courageous Leadership Award.

About Pam & Tom Bosley, Recipients Of The 2017 Lifesaving Service Award:

Pam and Tom Bosley lost their teenage son, Terrell, when he was shot and killed outside his church on the way to choir practice on the South Side of Chicago in 2006. In the aftermath of this truly senseless tragedy, Mr. and Mrs. Bosley turned grief into action by founding two nonprofit organizations committed to helping those affected by the crisis of gun violence plaguing our cities.

Realizing the limited support available to parents whose children have been murdered in Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. Bosley formed Purpose Over Pain, an advocacy and support group focused on offering much-needed assistance to grieving families and fighting for solutions to the gun violence epidemic. They also launched the Terrell Bosley Anti-Violence Association, providing food, clothing, and community events for young people and their families. In addition, Mr. and Mrs. Bosley both work as part of violence prevention initiatives at the St. Sabina Church with renowned pastor and activist Father Michael Pfleger.

Mr. and Mrs. Bosley, both born and raised in Chicago, have dedicated their lives to serving their community and creating lifesaving change out of unthinkable tragedy. In admiration of their courage and commitment to preventing more families from suffering the loss of a child to gun violence, the Law Center will honor Mr. and Mrs. Bosley with its 2017 Lifesaving Service Award.

About Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, Recipient Of The 2017 Richard W. Odgers Pro Bono Partner Award:

Law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP is the recipient of the Law Center’s 2017 Richard W. Odgers Pro Bono Partner Award, in recognition of the essential role they have played in creating the Firearms Accountability Counsel Taskforce, a bold new partnership between the private bar and the gun violence prevention movement. Committing a remarkable amount of invaluable resources to this project, the firm’s support of the Law Center’s efforts to hold the firearms industry and the gun lobby accountable for profiting at the expense of public safety will have a tangible, lifesaving impact for years to come.

The Richard W. Odgers Pro Bono Partner Award is given in honor of Richard W. “Dick” Odgers (1936–2014), who was a beloved founder, supporter, and friend to the Law Center. Mr. Odgers helped create the organization after the 101 California Street shooting and served as the organization’s first president, staying active on the board for 16 years. In 2015, the Law Center renamed its annual pro bono partner award after Odgers, paying tribute to his remarkable legacy as an attorney and champion of responsible gun laws.

Gabby Giffords Applauds Governor Brown For Authorizing Funding For CalVIP Program That Helps Reduce Gun Violence

June 27, 2017 — Today, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Co-Founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), issued the below statement applauding California Governor Jerry Brown for authorizing funding for the California Violence Intervention Prevention Program (CalVIP), formerly CalGRIP.

The 2017 California budget includes $9.2 million for CalVIP, which is one of the only sources of state-level funding for locally driven violence prevention strategies. Earlier this year, attorneys from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and Americans for Responsible Solutions testified in support of CalVIP.

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords:

“Under the leadership of Governor Brown, California continues to be a national leader in reducing gun violence and the CalVIP program is another shining example of how strategic, localized gun violence prevention strategies can reduce violence and save innocent lives. California’s gun violence prevention advocates and public safety officials have long called on their state’s leaders to do even more to protect families from gun violence. By funding this important program, California is taking yet another strong step in the right direction.”

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 at-risk youth. For example:

  • The program has provided Los Angeles $3 million over the past three years to help fund its Gang Reduction and Youth Development project. Los Angeles has seen a 38% reduction in homicides and 46% reduction in aggravated assaults since launching the project in 2007. [FBI Uniform Crime Reports]

  • Over the past three years, the program 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 more than 50% reduction in fatal shootings since ONS launched in 2007. [Office of Neighborhood Safety]

  • The program has provided $1.5 million to Oakland to fund Operation Ceasefire, the city’s project to reduce 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. [California Partnership for Safe Communities]

In March 2016, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence released a groundbreaking report, Healing Communities in Crisis, highlighting the importance of locally driven violence prevention and intervention strategies—exactly the kind of solutions supported by CalVIP funding.

To learn more about the CalVIP program, or to arrange time to speak with an expert, contact Sean Simons at sean@responsiblesolutions.org.