Survivor Of Gun Violence, Mayors Plusquellic And Sellers, And Advocates In Akron Hold Senator Portman Accountable For Opposing Background Checks, Ignoring The Will Of Ohioans

Aug 14, 2013, 13:06 ET from Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Portman Voted Against Common-Sense Background Checks Even Though 83 Percent of Ohioans Support Them; Participants Thank Senator Brown for Supporting Sensible Gun Legislation

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

AKRON, Ohio, Aug. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A broad coalition of gun violence prevention advocates – including a survivor of the Chardon High School shooting, Mayors Don Plusquellic of Akron and Brad Sellers of Warrensville Heights, Akron City Councilmembers, and local community leaders – gathered in Akron 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. The tour is sponsored by the bipartisan coalition Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which has nearly 100 member mayors and more than 81,000 grassroots supporters in Ohio.

Participants and attendees came together Wednesday to hold Senator Rob Portman accountable for his continued opposition to common-sense background checks that would help save lives by keeping guns out of the hands of felons, domestic abusers, and the seriously mentally ill – and that enjoy the support of 83 percent of Ohioans. They called on Senator Portman to take another look at bipartisan background checks legislation, and they also thanked Senator Sherrod Brown for supporting common-sense gun laws that would help protect communities in Ohio and across the country.

Participants and attendees in Wednesday's event included: Nick Walczak, a survivor of the Chardon High School shooting; Mayors Don Plusquellic of Akron and Brad Sellers of Warrensville Heights, both members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns; Akron City Council President Garry Moneypenny and Councilmember Jeff Fusco; Summit County Councilmember Tamela Lee; Paul Henry of the Summit County Rape Crisis Center; and local advocates.

"Comprehensive and enforceable background checks are the most effective way to keep felons, domestic abusers, the seriously mentally ill, and other dangerous people from getting their hands on guns," said Warrensville Heights Mayor Brad Sellers, a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. "That's why the overwhelming majority of Ohioans support this sensible measure. Now, we need Senator Portman and his colleagues in Congress to take another look at bipartisan background checks legislation and prioritize the public safety of the American people."

"As a mayor charged with ensuring public safety and protecting the streets of my community, I am proud to join the fight to reduce gun violence – not just in Ohio, but also across the country," said Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic, a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. "It's time for Congress to put politics aside and pass common-sense gun safety measures – like comprehensive and enforceable background checks – that will keep guns out of the wrong hands and help save lives."

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

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 Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Joe Manchin – and supported by a majority of U.S. senators, including Senator Brown – would have closed this dangerous loophole by extending background checks to cover commercial gun sales. But in April, Senator Portman voted to block this sensible legislation, despite overwhelming support from his constituents in Ohio and Americans across the country.

In trying to justify his vote against the Toomey-Manchin amendment, Senator Portman falsely claimed that there is "discussion of a new, national gun registry connected with universal background checks."[1] But in truth, federal law already outlaws a national firearms registry, and the Toomey-Manchin amendment would have helped strengthen the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners by reaffirming this ban.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Senator Portman also claimed that "legislation to expand background checks to private sales would have no meaningful impact on the unacceptable level of daily gun violence on the streets of Columbus and other places in Ohio."

But overwhelming evidence disproves Senator Portman's false claims and demonstrates that background checks help save lives. In 2010, state and federal background checks blocked more than 150,000 gun sales to prohibited purchasers, which suggests as many as 5,000 dangerous people were denied guns in Ohio alone. 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.[2]
  • 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.[3]
  • 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.[4]
  • Thirty-nine percent fewer law enforcement officers were shot to death with handguns.[5]

Because Senator Portman and others have voted against closing dangerous loopholes in our gun laws, rates of gun violence in Ohio on average are higher than in the rest of the country – making Senator Portman's vote all the more difficult to justify:

  • In 2010, the number of suicides committed with firearms in Ohio was 53 percent higher than in states that require background checks for private handgun sales.[6]
  • In 2009, the number of guns sold by Ohio firearms dealers that were trafficked across state lines and recovered at crime scenes outside of the state was 11 percent more than the national average and 152 percent higher than in states that require background checks for private handgun sales.[7]

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

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. With more than 1.5 million grassroots supporters – including more than 81,000 in Ohio – the coalition is 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

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

Alex Katz: or 646-324-8245
Joy Cameron: or 505-681-0303
Lizzie Ulmer: or 269-271-2331

SOURCE Mayors Against Illegal Guns