Father Of Newtown Victim And Local Advocates Gather In Richmond To Urge America's Leaders In Congress To Support Common-Sense Background Checks

Participants Call On Lawmakers in Washington to Support Life-Saving Measure To Keep Guns Out of the Wrong Hands; 90 Percent of Americans Support Background Checks

Event is Part of "No More Names: National Drive to Reduce Gun Violence" Bus Tour; www.NoMoreNames.org

RICHMOND, Va., Aug. 22, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The father of a 6-year-old victim of the Newtown massacre, a domestic violence prevention advocate, and local community members gathered in Richmond 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 came together Thursday to voice their support for comprehensive background checks, and they urged lawmakers in Washington to support bipartisan legislation in Congress that would extend background checks to cover private gun sales in commercial settings. More than 90 percent of Americans support going beyond this measure by requiring background checks for all gun sales, which would help keep guns out of the hands of felons, domestic abusers, the seriously mentally ill, and other dangerous individuals. The event was organized by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a bipartisan coalition of more than 1,000 mayors and 1.5 million grassroots supporters nationwide – including more than 58,000 in Virginia.

Participants in Thursday's event included: Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son Jesse Lewis was killed in the December 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut; Kristine Hall, a domestic violence prevention advocate; and local community members.

This past April, Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine stood with the more than 90 percent of Americans who support background checks and voted in favor of legislation sponsored by NRA A-rated Senators Pat Toomey and Joe Manchin that would have closed dangerous loopholes that allow dangerous people to obtain firearms by requiring background checks for private gun sales in commercial settings. It would also make sure that critical records are submitted to NICS by incentivizing states to improve their record-reporting system and removing perceived hurdles to the submission of critical mental health records. The legislation failed to become law, however, after a minority of senators voted to block the bill.

Fatal gaps in the current background check system allowed Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho to pass a background check at a licensed gun dealer – even though a judge had previously found him mentally ill and therefore prohibited from purchasing guns. But his mental health records were never submitted to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), and the consequences were devastating after he murdered 32 people and injured another 17 in one of the country's deadliest mass shootings in history.

Virginia has higher rates of gun violence than the rest of the country:

  • In 2010, the number of women shot to death by intimate partners in Virginia was 37 percent higher than the national average and 81 percent more than in states that require background checks for private handgun sales.[1]
  • In 2009, the number of guns sold by Virginia dealers that were trafficked to other states and recovered at crime scenes was 130 percent more than the national average and 422 percent more than in states that require background checks for private handgun sales.[2]
  • In 2010, the number of suicides committed with firearms in Virginia was 15 percent higher than the national average and 76 percent more than in states that require background checks for private handgun sales.[3]

The No More Names tour provides 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 are holding 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 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.[4]
  • 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.[5]
  • 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.[6]

Thirty-nine percent fewer law enforcement officers were shot to death with handguns.[7]

About Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Since its creation in April 2006, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has grown from 15 members to more than 1,000 mayors from across the country. We have more than 1.5 million grassroots supporters – including more than 58,000 in Virginia – 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.

[1] U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Supplementary Homicide Reports, 2011, available at http://bit.ly/V1GvFe. Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Supplementary Homicide Report. 2010. Excludes New York due to incomplete data.
[2] Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. 2009, available at www.TraceTheGuns.org 
[3] Centers for Disease Control, Fatal Injury Reports, 2010.
[4] Daniel Webster, Jon Vernick, and Maria Bulzacchelli, "Effects of State-Level Firearm Seller Accountability Policies on Firearm Trafficking," Journal of Urban Health, July 2009.
[5] U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Supplementary Homicide Reports, 2010.
[6] 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].
[7] Federal Bureau of Investigation. LEOKA Database, 2001-2011 (Accessed Mar. 2013).

CONTACTS
Alex Katz: akatz@maig.org or 646-324-8245
Stacey Radnor: radnor@homefrontdc.com or 202-870-6668

SOURCE Mayors Against Illegal Guns



RELATED LINKS
http://www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org

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