FactPower: Facts, figures, and talking points for Resistance activists.
Our Deadliest Modern Mass Shooting: Time To Do Something
Another horrible mass shooting has happened in Las Vegas and what are we hearing? The same statements about "thoughts and prayers" along with cautioning that this is no time to politicize this awful event. Speaker Ryan stated that what we really need to discuss is mental health. (Never mind that he wants to take away health care, including mental health care, from millions.) Having just read the book "Don't Think of an Elephant" this summer, a friend and I realized that the NRA has successfully spent the last 30 years framing the gun issue. Because of this, there is no way to have real debate.
So what are we to do? We need to dig in, do research and become informed so that we can meet with our members of Congress and have candid discussions with them about what we expect of them. Then we need to disseminate this information to our network of like minded activists and make sure we don't fall into what always happens after these awful events. It's up to us to hold our members of Congress accountable and insist that they not bow down to the all-powerful NRA. The research below is from Americans for Responsible Solutions. In later articles we will look at what The Brady Campaign, Every Town for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action have to say about this uniquely American crisis.
In the United States we have a gun violence problem. Here are some very disturbing statistics from Americans for Responsible Solutions:
About 30,000 Americans die from gun violence every year
Americans are roughly 20 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than people in other developed countries.
Women in our country are roughly 11 times more likely to be killed by a gun than women in other high-income countries.
From 2001 through 2012, 6,410 women were murdered in the United States by an intimate partner using a gun – more than the total number of U.S. troops killed inaction during the entirety of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.
Every day in our country, eight children and teens under the age of 20 are killed by guns.
American children are roughly 11 times more likely to die by guns than children in other high-income peer countries.
Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly rightly point out that gun violence is a complex problem – but one reason we have such a high rate of deaths and injuries from gun violence is because we have bad laws:
Federal law and many states don’t require background checks on all gun purchases, making it easy for dangerous people like convicted felons, the dangerously mentally ill, and domestic abusers to get guns – no questions asked.
We still don’t have a strong clear federal law against gun trafficking, tying the hands of prosecutors and law enforcement.
Under federal law, many convicted stalkers and domestic abusers can still pass a background check and legally get a gun.
Many states don’t do enough to report records of dangerous people to our federal background check system – and a background check system is only as good as the data it contains.
We also have bad information, in part due to Congress' 1996 ban on federal research into the causes and effects of gun violence. While the Administration cleared the way for public health research about gun violence to take place, Congress refuses to seriously invest in research to understand the connection between gun violence and public health. Congress should allocate dedicated funding to firearms injury prevention research at the Centers for Disease Control.
What does Americans for Responsible Solutions think are the solutions?
Expanding the Background Check System: The federal background check system is an effective tool. By closing these loopholes that allow prohibited individuals to access firearms through unlicensed dealers, or “private sellers" and requiring background checks at gun shows and online, we can ensure that guns stay out of the hands of those prohibited by federal law.
Preventing Domestic Violence Homicides: We need federal legislation that strengthens our nation’s guns laws and further prevents domestic abusers from accessing guns. By extending current firearms prohibitions to abusive dating partners and those convicted of misdemeanor stalking, we can keep guns out of dangerous hands and improve the safety of women and families.
Enact Strong Laws Against Gun Trafficking and Stiffen Penalties for Straw Purchasers: Straw purchases provide a major source of guns for organized crime organizations in the U.S. and Mexico. Congress should work to make gun trafficking a federal crime and ensure enhanced penalties for kingpin gun traffickers, corrupt gun dealers and straw purchasers.
Strengthening the National Instant Criminal Background Check System: 11 states and the District of Columbia still have no reporting requirements laws, while 12 states have reported fewer than 100 records to NICS. Congress must continue to work to ensure that all records of prohibited purchasers are submitted to the background check system.
Invest in Dedicated Funding for Research About the Causes & Impact of Gun Violence: In 1996 Congress banned federal research into the causes and effects of gun violence. Congress refuses to seriously invest in research to understand the connection between gun violence and public health. Congress should allocate dedicated funding to firearms injury prevention research at the Centers for Disease Control.
Fact Power is taking on the issue of gun safety because we believe we can not continue to live in a country where gun violence is so prevalent. Please watch for upcoming Calls to Action with contact information for key legislators.