Sister Of Newtown Victim, Survivor Of Accent Signage Shooting, Mayors Rybak And Coleman, And Faith Leaders Hold Rally In Minneapolis Urging Congress To Support Background Checks

Jul 31, 2013, 11:39 ET from Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Participants Thank Senators Franken and Klobuchar for Supporting Common-Sense Background Checks, Urge Congressmen Paulsen and Kline to Follow Their Lead in U.S. House

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

MINNEAPOLIS, July 31, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Supporters of common-sense gun laws that include background checks for all gun sales gathered in Minneapolis on Wednesday as part of the "No More Names: National Drive To Reduce Gun Violence" tour – a 25-state nationwide effort over a period of 100 days aimed at urging America's leaders to support common-sense gun laws. Those calling on Congress to act included the sister of a teacher murdered in the Newtown massacre, a survivor of the Accent Signage shooting, and the son of one of its victims. Mayors R.T. Rybak of Minneapolis and Chris Coleman of St. Paul also welcomed local gun owners, who noted that pending background check proposals actually strengthen the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens while keeping guns out of the hands of violent criminals, potential terrorists, domestic abusers, and the seriously mentally ill.  

Participants came together to thank Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar for voting in favor of bipartisan background checks legislation in April, and they urged the rest of Congress – including Representatives Erik Paulsen and John Kline – to support this life-saving measure.

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 24,000 in Minnesota. During the rally, participants and attendees also read the names of victims of gun violence who have been killed since the Newtown mass shooting in December 2012.

This past April, Senators Franken and Klobuchar stood with Minnesotans and voted to support bipartisan background checks legislation sponsored by NRA A-rated Senators Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey that would have helped keep guns out of the wrong hands by extending background checks to cover private gun sales in commercial settings. The bill failed, however, after it was blocked by a minority of senators. Corresponding legislation in the U.S. House, sponsored by Congressmen Peter King (R-NY) and Mike Thompson (D-CA), currently has more than 180 co-sponsors – including Representatives Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum, and Rick Nolan – but has failed to receive support from Congressmen Paulsen and Kline.

Participants in Wednesday's rally included: Carlee Soto, whose sister Victoria – a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School – was killed while trying to protect her students during the Newtown massacre; John Souter, a survivor of the September 2012 Accent Signage shooting in Minneapolis; Sami Rahamim, a gun violence prevention advocate whose father Reuven was killed in the Accent Signage shooting; Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, both members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns; Bill Krause, a local gun owner; Rabbi Michael Latz; Bishop Powell; and Minneapolis City Councilmember Don Samuels.

"The tragic events in Newtown opened our country's eyes to the fact that we have a serious problem with gun violence in America," said Carlee Soto, whose sister Victoria, a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School, was killed in the Newtown massacre. "Across the nation, the families of gun violence victims are committed to pushing for common-sense gun safety measures – like comprehensive background checks – that will help ensure that others don't have to experience the anguish of losing a loved one to these senseless shootings. It's time that our leaders in Congress stood with us and made meaningful reform a reality."

"The issue of gun violence is a far deeper problem than simply the tragic mass shooting that killed my father, Reuven, and five others at Accent Signage ten months ago," said Sami Rahamim, a gun violence prevention activist in Minneapolis whose father was killed with a gun in September 2012. "When an issue has the backing of 90 percent of Americans and so many lives are at stake, it's imperative that we pass meaningful legislation so that other families won't be subjected to the horror and heartbreak that mine has."

"America's mayors are firsthand witnesses to the terrible toll of illegal guns in our communities that claim the lives of 33 Americans every single day in this country," said Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. "That's why I've been proud to join with more than 1,000 members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns to call on our elected officials in Washington to save lives by closing the dangerous loopholes in our background check system. It's time for members of Congress – including Representatives Paulsen and Kline – to support common-sense gun laws that will help protect our communities, our families, and our children."

"Senators Franken and Klobuchar stood with the people of Minnesota when they voted for comprehensive and enforceable background checks in April," said St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. "It's time for their colleagues in Congress to follow their leadership and stand up for common-sense gun laws that will help save lives. We can no longer afford to ignore these very real issues – the time for action is now."

Advocates on Wednesday also called on Minnesota's state lawmakers to take meaningful legislative action to reduce gun violence at the state-level, calling their failure to pass any substantive gun laws the biggest failure of the 2013 session. Recent polls found that more than 70 percent of Minnesotans support background checks for all gun sales, including 60 percent of gun owners in the state. In late April, the board of directors of the Minnesota County Attorneys Association passed a resolution supporting background checks for firearm sales at gun shows and over the Internet.

While the rate of gun violence in Minnesota is below the national average, more than 700 people were killed with guns in Minnesota between 2001 and 2010.[1] And in 2011, there were 1,177 aggravated assault with firearms in the state – more than three per day.[2]

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

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.[3]
  • 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.[4]
  • 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.[5]
  • Thirty-nine percent fewer law enforcement officers were shot to death with handguns.[6]

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 group has more than 1.5 million grassroots supporters – including more than 24,000 in Minnesota – making it 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

[1] Centers for Disease Control. Fatal Injury Reports. 2010.
[2] Federal Bureau of Investigation. Uniform Crime Reports. 2011. Available at:
[3] Daniel Webster, Jon Vernick, and Maria Bulzacchelli, "Effects of State-Level Firearm Seller Accountability Policies on Firearm Trafficking," Journal of Urban Health, July 2009.
[4] U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Supplementary Homicide Reports, 2010.
[5] 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].
[6] Federal Bureau of Investigation. LEOKA Database, 2001-2011 (Accessed Mar. 2013).

Alex Katz: or 212-788-7617
John Stiles: or 612-581-1788
Stacey Radnor: or 202-870-6668

SOURCE Mayors Against Illegal Guns