Mayors Across the Country Endorse Common-Sense Gun Reforms and Announce Ad Featuring Family Members of Gun Violence Victims; Co-Chair Mayor Bloomberg Releases “Access Denied” Report at Johns Hopkins; Both Available on www.DemandAPlan.org
Coalition Adds More than 100 New Mayors Since Newtown, Reaches 1 Million Supporters
Marking one month since the tragedy in Newtown, Mayors Against Illegal Guns today released a new national television ad (available here) featuring family members of gun violence victims demanding that political leaders take immediate steps to end the gun violence that kills 33 Americans every day. Co-chair Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg also released “Access Denied”, a new report that surveys all the efforts by the gun lobby, with the cooperation of Congress, to suppress data and research funding on gun violence, making it difficult to study the causes of gun violence and to hold the firearms industry accountable for their role in the epidemic. The report (available here) was released at a summit focused on gun violence research at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health.
“Thirty days have passed since 20 children and six adults were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School – and still, no action has been taken by Washington to end our country’s gun violence epidemic,” said Mayors Against Illegal Guns Co-Chair and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “Now is the time for Congress to buck the special interests of the gun lobby that endanger our children. This means requiring background checks for every gun sale, restricting assault weapons and high capacity magazines, and making gun trafficking a federal crime. We cannot let another month go by with no action.”
“Today we remember the lives that were needlessly lost one month ago, and the 33 lives taken by gun violence across our country every day,” Mayors Against Illegal Guns Co-Chair and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino said. “But we also continue our call for action to take the illegal guns out of our neighborhoods, and tragedies like Newtown out of our nation’s future. This time must be different. Our leaders in Washington must act, and pass the common-sense gun reforms necessary to protect our children and communities.”
Mayors Against Illegal Guns also announced today that since the Newtown shooting, it has added more than 100 mayors to its national bipartisan coalition to end gun violence and grown to more than one million supporters.
The “Access Denied” report released today reviews how the U.S. does nearly no scientific research to understand or prevent gun violence – and blocks questions from police, military officers and even doctors to learn more. All of this despite the fact that Americans murder each other with guns at nearly 20 times the rate of residents of other high-income countries. This is because for 20 years, the National Rifle Association’s Washington leadership has advanced policies to obstruct access to and analysis of information related to firearms and violence.
The report shows how the restrictions have affected many fields, including:
· Science: Since 1996, CDC funding for firearm injury prevention has fallen 96 percent and is now just $100,000 of its $5.6 billion budget.
· Law enforcement: The National Institute of Justice, the principal research arm of the Justice Department, funded 32 gun-related studies between 1993 and 1999, yet it has not funded a single public gun-related study during the Obama Administration.
· Military leaders and doctors: In 2010, a defense funding bill prohibited commanding officers and mental health counselors from talking with severely depressed service members about the risks posed by guns in their private possession. This was done during an epidemic of suicide among active-duty service members in which suicides exceeded combat deaths in Afghanistan. The large majority of military suicides are committed with guns. (Congress repealed this gag order recently at the insistence of mayors, retired flag officers and mental health advocates.) The gun lobby has also passed state laws that prohibit doctors from discussing firearms with their patients.
The report recommends that these restrictions be lifted and particularly that Congress remove “policy riders” onfederal appropriations bills that limit firearms research at the CDC and NIH provide appropriate funding to study the role of firearms on public health to reduce crime and save lives. Police departments also need data to effectively fight crime. In 2006, New York City analyzed “trace data” for guns found at crime scenes to identify the dealers who sold them. The City investigated and sued 27 of those dealers, and 24 settled and were monitored by the court to improve their sales practices. As a result, the share of guns sold by those dealers that were recovered in New York City crimes dropped by 84 percent.
The new television ad is being released at events hosted by 40 mayors and law enforcement officials across the country including Cranston, NJ; Durham-Chapel Hill, NC; Ft. Wayne, IN; Lancaster, PA; Lansing, MI; Miami, FL; Media, PA; Portland, ME; Portland, OR; Santa Fe, NM and Telluride, CO. The ad will air nationally on cable as well as in all of these markets.
In an effort to keep their communities safe, local leaders at today’s events also urged Washington to end gun violence in America by:
· Requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales: Background checks are the only systematic way to stop felons, domestic abusers and other dangerous people from buying firearms. But federal law only requires background checks for gun sales at licensed dealers. Almost 6.6 million guns are sold each year in the U.S. by unlicensed “private sellers,” including online and at gun shows. That means that between 40% and 50% of gun sales may take place with no background check for the buyer. According to Republican pollster Frank Luntz, 82% of gun owners support criminal background checks on all gun sales.
· Banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines: Military-style weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines (those with more than 10 rounds) have no place on our streets. They are designed to kill large numbers of people quickly, and they have no other use in civilian hands. Today, even people with criminal records, or with serious mental illness, can and do buy assault weapons from unlicensed private sellers who don’t conduct background checks.
· Make gun trafficking a federal crime: Every year, tens of thousands of guns find their way into the hands of criminals through illegal trafficking channels. But there is no clear and effective statute that makes gun trafficking a federal crime. Prosecutors who want to combat traffickers are forced to rely on a weak law that prohibits “engaging in the business of selling guns without a federal license,” which carries the same punishment as trafficking chicken or livestock.