LITTLE ROCK, Ark., June 27, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Families of Newtown victims, local gun owners, faith leaders, and law enforcement gathered at the Riverwalk Pavilion in Little Rock, Arkansas today as part of the "No More Names: National Drive to Reduce Gun Violence" – a 25-state national bus tour over a period of 100 days aimed at urging America's leaders to support common-sense gun policies. Participants voiced their support for comprehensive and enforceable background checks that help keep guns out of the wrong hands, and they called on U.S. Senator Mark Pryor to reconsider his position on this life-saving measure and take another look at bipartisan background checks legislation.
Participants included: Neil Heslin, the father of 6-year-old Newtown shooting victim Jesse Lewis; Carlee Soto, the sister of Newtown victim and Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher Victoria Soto; Reverend Elliot Blocker, whose daughter was recently murdered with a gun in North Little Rock; and Revered Carl Long of the Second Baptist Church.
It remains far too easy for criminals, domestic abusers, the seriously mentally ill, and other dangerous individuals – people who know they can't pass a background check – to skirt the law and obtain guns by purchasing them online or at gun shows, where background checks are not required under federal law. Bipartisan legislation sponsored by NRA A-rated Senators Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey would have closed this dangerous loophole by extending background checks to commercial gun sales. But Senator Pryor voted to block this sensible legislation, despite the fact that 84 percent of Arkansans support background checks for all gun sales.
"My sister Victoria was murdered with a gun at Sandy Hook Elementary School while bravely trying to protect her students," said Carlee Soto, the sister of slain Newtown teacher Victoria Soto. "While there's nothing I can do to bring her back, I am committed to ensuring that no other families have to experience the pain we'll have to carry with us for the rest of our lives. It's time for our leaders to stand with those who have lost loved ones to gun violence – as well as the overwhelming majority of Americans – and support common-sense gun safety measures, like comprehensive and enforceable background checks."
"Safety, right-to-life, and peace in our communities are three of the most basic values we can strive to achieve as a society," said Reverend Elliott Blocker. "But we are failing to provide those securities by allowing such easy access to deadly weapons. People of all faiths and creeds demand that their elected leaders listen to the will of the people and pass sensible gun violence prevention legislation."
The No More Names tour will provide an opportunity for the more than 90 percent of Americans who support background checks to drive home a message to our elected officials that our country needs common-sense gun laws. At each stop, participants will hold rallies with a broad coalition of supporters – including police, survivors, domestic violence prevention advocates, mayors, and other elected officials – to commemorate those we've lost and call on our leaders to stand with the American people on sensible gun policies. They will both applaud senators who voted to support comprehensive and enforceable background checks, and urge those who opposed this measure to take a second look.
States on the tour include: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin. For more information, please visit www.NoMoreNames.org.
Evidence demonstrates that background checks help save lives. In states that already require background checks for all handgun sales:
- Gun trafficking was 48 percent lower than in states that fail to require background checks for all handgun sales.
- The rate of women murdered by an intimate partner with a gun was 38 percent lower than in other states, while the rate murdered by other means was nearly identical.
- The firearm suicide rate was 49 percent lower than in other states, even though people committed suicide in other ways at almost precisely the same rate.
- Thirty-nine percent fewer law enforcement officers were shot to death with handguns.
About Mayors Against Illegal Guns
Since its creation in April 2006, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has grown from 15 members to more than 950 mayors from across the country. We have more than 1.5 million grassroots supporters, making us the largest gun violence prevention advocacy organization in the country. The bipartisan coalition, co-chaired by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, has united the nation's mayors around these common goals: protecting communities by holding gun offenders accountable; demanding access to crime gun trace data that is critical to law enforcement efforts to combat gun trafficking; and working with legislators to fix weaknesses and loopholes in the law that make it far too easy for criminals and other dangerous people to get guns. Learn more at www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org
 Daniel Webster, Jon Vernick, and Maria Bulzacchelli, "Effects of State-Level Firearm Seller Accountability Policies on Firearm Trafficking," Journal of Urban Health, July 2009.
 U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Supplementary Homicide Reports, 2010.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-Based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]. (2005) [cited 2012 Dec. 20].
 Federal Bureau of Investigation. LEOKA Database, 2001-2011 (Accessed Mar. 2013).
SOURCE Mayors Against Illegal Guns