NASHVILLE, Tenn., June 26, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Families of Newtown victims, survivors of gun violence, gun owners, elected officials, faith leaders, and advocates gathered at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park in Nashville, Tennessee 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 continued support for comprehensive and enforceable background checks that help keep guns out of the wrong hands, and they called on U.S. Senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander to reconsider their position on this life-saving measure and take another look at bipartisan background checks legislation.
Participants included: Carlee Soto, the sister of slain Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher Victoria; Stephen Barton, a survivor of the Aurora movie theater shooting and an Outreach and Policy Associate with Mayors Against Illegal Guns; Tammy Sommers, a survivor of the July 2008 shooting at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Church; Chris Polk, a local gun owner; Talia Simmons, whose son Antwand Covington Jr. was murdered with a gun in Nashville in June 2012; Father Joseph Patrick Breen of St. Edwards Catholic Church; and State Rep. Mike Stewart of District 52.
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 Senators Corker and Alexander voted to block this sensible legislation, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans support background checks for all gun sales.
"My sister was described by so many people as 'brave' and 'heroic' after she was murdered while trying to shield her students from gunfire," said Carlee Soto, the sister of murdered Sandy Hook school teacher Victoria. "It's time for our leaders to demonstrate the same courage by standing up for sensible gun laws that will help save lives."
"After I was shot in a movie theater in Aurora, my eyes were opened to the staggering level of gun violence in America," said Stephen Barton, a survivor of the Aurora shooting and an Outreach and Policy Associate with Mayors Against Illegal Guns. "If Congress fails to act, tens of thousands of Americans will be injured like I was last summer – and thousands more will be killed. Our gun laws are clearly broken, and it's long past time for change."
"The vast majority of law-abiding gun owners support comprehensive and enforceable background checks," said local gun owner Chris Polk. "That's because support for the Second Amendment goes hand-in-hand with keeping our communities and our families safe from the consequences of gun violence. I urge Senators Corker and Alexander to stand with the people they represent, not the criminals who rely on dangerous loopholes to get their hands on guns."
"I was lucky to have survived being shot in the head at my church in Knoxville. But the fact remains that too many Americans aren't so lucky – 33 people are murdered with guns every single day in this country," said Tammy Sommers, a survivor of the July 2008 shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. "The deep pain and devastation caused by gun violence demands action from our leaders, and so do millions of people nationwide. We need Congress to pass common-sense safety measures that will help keep guns out of the wrong hands – and save lives."
"No mother should have to experience the agony and grief of burying a murdered son," said Talia Simmons, whose 17-year-old son Antwand Covington Jr. was murdered with a gun in 2012. "I won't ever get my son back, but we can honor his memory – and the memory of the countless Americans who are murdered with guns by passing common-sense gun laws."
"We continue to lose too many innocent people to gun violence in our communities," said State Representative Mike Stewart. "Senators Corker and Alexander must stand with the more than 90 percent of Americans who support comprehensive and enforceable background checks – for the sake of our communities, our families, and our children."
"The culture of violence perpetuated by weak gun laws directly perverts the values of values of life, peace and security sanctified by all common faiths," said Father Joseph Patrick Breen of St. Edwards Catholic Church. "People of all faiths and good-will must come together to demand our elected leaders do their part to reduce gun violence by enacting sensible safety measures, like universal background checks."
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