Hundreds of Americans Rally in Washington, D.C. to Launch Next Phase in National Fight to Fix Gun Background Check System
Participants Urge Congress to Support Sensible Gun Laws That Save Lives; 90 Percent of Americans Support Comprehensive Background Checks
Rally Returns to Washington as Part of "No More Names: National Drive to Reduce Gun Violence" Bus Tour; www.NoMoreNames.org
WASHINGTON, Sept. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A broad coalition of Americans from across the country – including survivors of gun violence and the families of its victims, members of Congress, law enforcement, gun owners, state and local elected officials, veterans, and faith leaders – held a rally in Washington, D.C. today as part of the "No More Names: National Drive to Reduce Gun Violence" bus tour. Over the last 100 days, the tour has traveled the nation, bringing Americans together at events in 25 states to urge elected officials to reconsider bipartisan gun background check legislation that enjoys overwhelming public support – but that a minority of U.S. Senators blocked in April. Today's rally marked the bus tour's return to Washington, D.C., and the launch of the next phase in the national fight to fix the gun background check system.
The mass shooting at the Navy Yard on Monday – one of the worst in the nation's history – was a devastating reminder of the toll that gun violence takes on innocent Americans. Thirty-three people are murdered with guns every day in the United States. Participants at Thursday's rally called on Congress to join the 90 percent of the public, including 74 percent of NRA members, who want to close loopholes that are letting dangerous people slip through the background check system. Additionally, participants read the names of the more than 9,000 Americans who have been murdered with firearms since the Newtown massacre.
This week, Mayors Against Illegal Guns flew in nearly 100 survivors of gun violence, families of victims, law enforcement officials, mayors, gun owners, and faith leaders – many of whom participated in this summer's bus tour and all of whom support common-sense solutions to reduce gun violence in America. In addition to taking part in Thursday's rally, this group had meetings with members of Congress on Capitol Hill and continued their push for comprehensive, bipartisan background checks legislation.
Thursday's rally underscored the need to close the gaping loopholes in the background check system. A new investigation released by Mayors Against Illegal Guns on Wednesday found that thousands of people already barred by existing Federal law from purchasing guns are flocking to the Internet to evade background checks and acquire guns illegally, with no questions asked. The investigation – which examined online gun listings posted between February and May 2013 on the popular website Armslist.com – found that this single website could transfer more than 25,000 guns to individuals with criminal records just this year. The full report – "Felon Seeks Firearm, No Strings Attached" – is available at www.DemandAction.org/OnlineGunBuyers.
"Every time one of these tragedies strikes, we pledge to finally take care of the gun violence epidemic in our country," said Stephen Barton, a survivor of the Aurora theater massacre. "It's been over a year since the Aurora shooting, and in that time we have seen communities all over the country shaken by similar tragedies. Today we join together at the Capitol to ask our lawmakers how many more innocent people must die before they finally take action."
"My sister was gunned down nine months ago while trying to protect her students from one of the worst mass shootings in our country's history," said Carlee Soto, whose sister Victoria, a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School, was killed in the Newtown shooting. "She would do anything for those kids, and not a day goes by that I don't miss her. While we can't bring Vicki back, we can do everything we can to prevent the next mass shooting from striking our country. But it will take some leadership from Congress."
"We are not going to give up on passing commonsense laws like background checks that keep guns from criminals, terrorists and the dangerously mentally ill," said Rep. Mike Thompson, Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. "Background checks save lives and do nothing to infringe on our Second Amendment rights. The American people deserve for their Representatives in Congress to put public safety before politics and vote on this bill."
"When my daughter was shot in a drive-by shooting earlier this year, I promised to do everything I could to keep our streets in Little Rock safe," said Pastor Elliot Blocker of Arkansan Pastors for Gun Sense. "As pastors we can provide support and healing, but the leadership on this issue must come from the top. If Congress continues to cower to the gun lobby, we will continue to see horrible shootings take the lives of 33 Americans every day. Now is the time to strengthen our gun laws, because making sure a background check accompanies the sale of a gun is just common sense."
Participants in Thursday's event included:
- Stephen Barton, Aurora theater shooting survivor
- Carlee Soto, sister of Newtown victim and Sandy Hook teacher Victoria Soto
- Shannon Watts, Founder of Moms Demand Action
- Col. Bill Badger, gun owner and survivor of Tucson mass shooting
- Members of Congress
- Commissioner Joseph Bail Jr. of the Chester, Penn. Police Department
- Jon Soltz, Chairman of VoteVets
- Rev. Elliot Blocker, Arkansan Pastors for Gun Sense
- Rev. Kim Turner Baker, National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
- Mark Glaze, Executive Director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns
The No More Names tour provided 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 held 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 applauded senators who voted to support comprehensive and enforceable background checks, and urged those who opposed this measure to take a second look.
States on the tour included: 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.
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. The coalition has more than 1.5 million grassroots supporters, making us the largest gun violence prevention advocacy organization in the country. The bipartisan organization, 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.
SOURCE Mayors Against Illegal Guns