Families Of Gun Violence Victims, State Representative Curtis, Law Enforcement, And Faith Leaders Gather In Helena To Urge Senator Baucus To Support Common-Sense Background Checks

Jul 23, 2013, 13:44 ET from Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Baucus Voted Against Bipartisan Background Checks Bill That Would Keep Guns Out of Wrong Hands, Even Though 79 Percent of Montanans Support Background Checks for All Gun Sales

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

HELENA, Mont., July 23, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Local families of gun violence victims, State Representative Amanda Curtis, former law enforcement officials, and advocates gathered at the Montana State Capitol in Helena today to voice their continued support for comprehensive and enforceable background checks, and they urged Senator Max Baucus to reconsider his position on this life-saving measure and take another look at bipartisan background checks legislation.

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 in April, Senator Baucus joined a minority of senators in voting to block this sensible legislation.

In trying to justify his vote, Senator Baucus claimed that Montanans had said "loud and clear that they are overwhelmingly opposed to new gun-control laws."[1] But in truth, 79 percent of Montanans support background checks for all gun sales. On Tuesday, participants called on Baucus to stand with the people he represents and vote to support common-sense gun laws.

Participants included: Vern and Leona Tolstedt, Montana residents whose 31-year-old son was killed with a gun in Seattle 25 years ago; State Representative Amanda Curtis of Butte; Marian Bradley, President of the Montana National Organization for Women; Deputy Chief Scott Swanson (ret.), a Montana resident who formerly served with the Santa Rosa, Calif., Police Department; and Father Tom Dooling.

"Losing our son to gun violence has been a devastating ordeal that no parents should have to experience," said Vern and Leona Tolstedt, Montana residents whose 31-year-old son was shot and killed in Seattle 25 years ago. "In order to spare others from the anguish we'll live with for the rest of our lives, it's imperative that our leaders in Washington take meaningful action to keep guns out of the wrong hands and help save lives. We urge Senator Baucus to stand with the families of victims and support common-sense gun laws – before more innocent Americans fall victim to gun violence."

"Montanans know that our Constitutional right to bear arms comes with a fundamental responsibility to do everything in our power to keep our communities safe from gun violence," said State Representative Amanda Curtis. "Senator Tester knows this well. It's time for his colleagues in Washington to join the overwhelming majority of Montanans who support common-sense gun laws, and take another look at bipartisan background checks legislation."

Rates of gun violence in Montana are higher than in the rest of the country in several key areas, making Senator Baucus' failure to support sensible gun violence prevention legislation that much more difficult to explain. In Montana in 2010, the number of women shot to death by a current or former intimate partner was 146 percent more than the national average, and 220 percent more than in states that require background checks for private handgun sales[2]; the number of suicides committed by firearms was 127 percent more than the national average, and 248 percent more than in states that require background checks for private handgun sales[3]; and in 2009, the number of guns sold by Montana dealers that were recovered at crime scenes outside of the state and successfully traced was 71 percent more than the national average and nearly four times the rate of states that require background checks for private handgun sales.[4]

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.[5]
  • 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.[6]
  • 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.[7]
  • Thirty-nine percent fewer law enforcement officers were shot to death with handguns.[8]

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


[1] [1] http://www.greatfallstribune.com/interactive/article/20130417/NEWS01/304170019?odyssey=mod%7Cmostcom

[2] 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.

[3] Centers for Disease Control. Fatal Injury Reports. 2010.

[4] Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. 2009. Available at www.TraceTheGuns.org

[5] Daniel Webster, Jon Vernick, and Maria Bulzacchelli, "Effects of State-Level Firearm Seller Accountability Policies on Firearm Trafficking," Journal of Urban Health, July 2009.

[6] U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Supplementary Homicide Reports, 2010.

[7] 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].

[8] Federal Bureau of Investigation. LEOKA Database, 2001-2011 (Accessed Mar. 2013).


Alex Katz: akatz@maig.org or 617-721-3779
Stacey Radnor: radnor@homefrontdc.com or 202-870-6668
Lizzie Ulmer: lulmer@maig.org or 269-271-2331

SOURCE Mayors Against Illegal Guns