Survivor Of Gun Violence, Elected Officials, Gun Owners, And Advocates Gather In Las Vegas To Back Common-Sense Gun Laws, Urge Senator Heller To Support Background Checks

Jul 08, 2013, 13:49 ET from Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Heller Voted Against the 86 Percent of Nevadans Who Support Background Checks; Participants Call on Him to Take Another Look at Bipartisan Bill That Would Help Save Lives

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

LAS VEGAS, July 8, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A survivor of the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting, State Senator Justin Jones, Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel, local gun owners, and advocates gathered in Las Vegas 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 Dean Heller to reconsider his position on this life-saving measure and take another look at bipartisan background checks legislation that would help keep guns out of the wrong hands.

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 a majority of U.S. senators – would have closed this dangerous loophole by extending background checks to cover commercial gun sales. But in April, Senator Heller voted to block this sensible legislation, despite the fact that 86 percent of Nevadans support background checks for all gun sales.

Participants and attendees included: Stephen Barton, a survivor of the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting and an Outreach and Policy Associate with Mayors Against Illegal Guns; State Senator Justin Jones; Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel; Esther Sass, the sister-in-law of the 2012 Empire State Building shooting victim; Bob Cavazos, a local gun owner; Linda Cavazos, a mental health professional; Teresa Crawford, a local advocate. As part of the event, participants also read the names of hundreds of victims of gun violence.

"When I was shot in Aurora last summer, I just narrowly avoided becoming one of the 33 Americans killed by gun violence every day," said Stephen Barton, a survivor of the Aurora shooting. "Many of those lives could be saved by expanded criminal background checks, but Senator Heller voted against them. He owes it to his constituents, whose safety is on the line, to seriously reconsider background check legislation as soon as possible."

"Despite the fact that 86 percent of Nevadans support background checks for all gun sales, Senator Heller failed to represent the will of his constituents when he voted against this sensible measure in the U.S. Senate in April," said State Senator Justin Jones. "More recently, Governor Sandoval vetoed a critical public safety bill – passed by both chambers of the Legislature – that would have required comprehensive background checks that help keep guns out of dangerous hands. With 33 Americans being murdered with guns every day in this country, it's time for our elected officials to put politics aside and support common-sense laws that will help save lives."

"Gun owners in Nevada and across the country know that we can respect the Second Amendment and take reasonable steps to keep our communities, our families, and our children safe from gun violence," said local gun owner Bob Cavazos. "Something as common-sense as comprehensive and enforceable background checks will help keep guns out of the wrong hands – and they'll help save lives. I urge Senator Heller to reconsider his position on this sensible gun safety measure."

Just before the Manchin-Toomey vote, Heller said in a statement that he opposed the legislation because he believed it "could lead to the creation of a national gun registry and puts additional burdens on law-abiding citizens." But in truth, federal law already outlaws a national firearms registry, and the Manchin-Toomey amendment would have reaffirmed this ban.

Rates of gun crime in Nevada are higher than average: Nevada is one of 13 states where firearm deaths exceeded motor vehicle deaths[1]; over the last decade, women in Nevada were 46 percent more likely to be killed with a gun than women in other states[2]; and in an average week, Nevada police receive reports of 25 aggravated assaults with firearms.[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

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

[1] CDC, Fatal Injury Reports, 2010.

[2] Female gun homicide rate 2001-10. See: Center For American Progress, "America Under The Gun."

[3] FBI, Uniform Crime Reports, 2011.

[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: or 212-788-7617
John Duckwitz: or 540-878-1136 
Lizzie Ulmer: or 269-271-2331

SOURCE Mayors Against Illegal Guns