Father Of Newtown Victim, Survivors Of Tucson Mass Shooting, And Mayor Rothschild Gather In Tucson To Back Common-sense Gun Laws, Urge Senator Flake To Support Background Checks

Jul 05, 2013, 22:00 ET from Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Flake Voted Against the 90 Percent of Arizonans Who Support Background Checks; Participants Call on Him to Take Another Look at Bipartisan Legislation that Would Help Save Lives

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

TUCSON, Ariz., July 5, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The father of a 6-year-old Newtown victim, survivors of the 2011 mass shooting in Tucson, Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, City Council members, law enforcement, faith leaders, and local advocates gathered at St. Odilia Church in Tucson 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, and they called on Senator Jeff Flake to reconsider his position on this life-saving measure and take another look at bipartisan background checks legislation.

Participants and attendees included: Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son Jesse Lewis was murdered in the Newtown massacre; Bill Badger, Pat Maisch, and Suzi Hileman, all of whom are survivors of the 2011 Tucson mass shooting; Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns; Captain Perry Tarrant of the Tucson Police Department; City Council Members Steve Kozachik and Karin Uhlich; Randy Friese, trauma surgeon to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords; Lisa Kiser, a survivor of the University of Arizona School of Nursing shooting; Jocelyn Strauss of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America; Clark Romans of the National Association of Mental Illness; and Father Troutman of St. Odilia 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 – and supported by Senator McCain – would have closed this dangerous loophole by extending background checks to commercial gun sales. But Senator Flake voted to block this sensible legislation, despite the fact that 90 percent of Arizonans support background checks for all gun sales.

"From Tucson to Newtown, our country has seen far too many tragic shootings and far too many lives lost to the epidemic of gun violence in America," said Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son Jesse Lewis was murdered in the Newtown massacre. "People across the nation are demanding action from our leaders in Washington. It's time they act to stem the bloodshed and help save lives."

"After all this country has gone through regarding gun violence, it is an outrageous shame that Congress failed to pass comprehensive background checks in April," said Pat Maisch, who wrestled the Tucson gunman's ammunition magazine away from him. "Senator McCain showed leadership by supporting sensible gun violence prevention legislation. Now it's time for Senator Flake to stand up for the countless survivors of gun violence and families of victims who demand meaningful action from their leaders in Washington. American lives are at stake."

"Not a day goes by that I'm not thinking about how close I came to being killed that fateful Saturday morning," said Bill Badger, a retired Army colonel who helped tackle the Tucson gunman while he was attempting to reload his weapon. "We need stronger gun laws in this country that help keep firearms out of the wrong hands. This isn't a political issue – it's about saving lives and preventing future tragedies."

"Like the rest of the country, Tucson has been devastated by far too many horrific acts of gun violence. January 8, 2011 was one of our city's darkest days," said Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. "Our leaders in Washington must put politics aside and public safety first by enacting common-sense gun laws that will help keep guns out of the wrong hands. I thank and applaud Senator McCain for working across party lines to vote the way Arizonans demand and deserve in April – it's time for his colleagues to follow suit."

"I have seen firsthand the tragic toll that gun violence can take on communities across the country," said Daniel Hernandez, a survivor of the 2011 Tucson mass shooting who was then serving as an intern to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and helped save her life. "Americans everywhere are calling on our leaders to take meaningful action to reduce gun violence and help save lives. It's time they listen. With 33 people being murdered with guns each and every day in this country, we can no longer afford to sit idly by."

Rates of gun violence in Arizona are higher than in the rest of the country: In 2011, Arizona's rate of aggravated assault with firearms was 13 percent higher than the national average, and 25 percent more than in states that require background checks for private handgun sales[1]; in 2010, the rate of women shot to death by intimate partners in Arizona was 29 percent higher than the national average, and 40 percent more than in states that require background checks for private handgun sales[2]; and the number of police officers killed with handguns in the state was nearly double the national rate.[3]

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.[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 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] Federal Bureau of Investigation. Uniform Crime Reports. 2011. Available at: http://1.usa.gov/11JY3sw
[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] Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2001-2011. Law enforcement killed with handguns that were not their own.
[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).

Alex Katz: akatz@maig.org or 212-788-7617
John Duckwitz: duckwitz@homefrontdc.com or 540-878-1136
Christina Martinez: christina@adelantepublicaffairs.com or 602-316-9732

SOURCE Mayors Against Illegal Guns