FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 9, 2013
MAYORS AGAINST ILLEGAL GUNS TO SCORE CONGRESSIONAL GUN VOTES
Coalition Also Releases New Ad Featuring Newtown Father Neil Heslin Calling on Congress to Support Commonsense Reforms Like Comprehensive Background Checks; www.DemandAction.org
Mayors Against Illegal Guns announced today that, for the first time, it will score votes and other official activity on firearms policy in the 113th Congress. In a letter that will be sent to all members of Congress today, the coalition states that it will issue a scorecard assigning members a letter grade on their gun policy records. The letter can be found at: www.demandaction.org/score.
The coalition also released a new ad today featuring Neil Heslin, whose son Jesse Lewis was killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In the ad Heslin recalls his final moments with his son and calls on Congress to take action to support sensible reforms like comprehensive background checks. The ad will air in Washington, D.C. and in key states – represented by both Democrats and Republicans – where it can most influence the upcoming Senate vote. It can be viewed at: www.demandaction.org/neil.
“For too long, the only voice that has been loud enough to influence Congress has been the Washington gun lobby’s – that’s how we’ve ended up with ineffective gun laws that have fueled our country’s gun violence epidemic,” said Mayors Against Illegal Guns Co-Chair and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “Now we’re working to make sure that the voices of the more than 900 bipartisan mayors in our coalition – and the 90 percent of Americans who support commonsense reforms like background checks for all gun sales – are heard loud and clear. It’s time for Congress to take action to save lives and protect our communities.”
“Our coalition will not let the memory of Newtown fade – we demanded a plan and we got one; now we demand action from Congress,” said Mayors Against Illegal Guns Co-Chair and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “We'll be paying close attention to the upcoming votes because the sensible reforms on the table are the very solutions that will help save lives."
The Mayors Against Illegal Guns scorecard will draw on committee and floor votes, bill co-sponsorships, public statements and other sources to give voters a clear picture of their elected officials’ positions. The organization noted that it will score both procedural and substantive votes on, but not limited to, the following issues:
- The National Instant Criminal Background Check System;
- State authority to establish permitting standards for concealed carrying;
- Assault weapons;
- High-capacity ammunition magazines;
- A federal gun trafficking law; and
- The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, its programs, its legal authority, its resources, and the confirmation of its director.
The scorecard will weight votes according to their priority to the mayors in the coalition.
The scoring announcement and latest ad comes just as members of Congress return to Washington from recess and just before the Senate considers legislation that would require background checks for all commercial gun sales – including at gun shows, online, and through classified ads.
Around 40 percent of U.S. gun transfers are conducted by unlicensed “private sellers” who are not required to conduct a federal check (1) and who often do business at gun shows and on the Internet – indicating that about 6.6 million guns are transferred in the U.S. every year with no background check for the buyer.(2) This loophole allows dangerous people who are prohibited from buying guns – including felons, domestic abusers and the seriously mentally ill – to avoid a background check by simply avoiding licensed dealers.
Evidence demonstrates that background checks save lives. For example, in the fourteen states that already require background checks for all handgun sales:
- Gun trafficking is 48 percent lower than in states that fail to require background checks for all handgun sales.(3)
- In 2010, 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)
- In 2011, of states with sufficient data, those that required background checks for all handgun sales had 17 percent fewer firearm aggravated assaults, controlling for population.(6)
Recent polls by Mayors Against Illegal Guns showed likely voters in a wide range of states and congressional districts overwhelmingly support background checks for all gun sales. The average support for background checks for all gun sales among 41 congressional district polls was 89 percent; the average among 21 statewide polls was 86 percent. The findings of these surveys can be found here. These findings are in line with recent independent polls that have found more than 90 percent of Americans support background checks for all buyers. Previous polling by Republican Frank Luntz for Mayors Against Illegal Guns also found that 82 percent of gun owners – including 74 percent of National Rifle Association members – support requiring criminal background checks for anyone purchasing a gun.
About Mayors Against Illegal Guns
Since its creation in April 2006, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has grown from 15 members to more than 900 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 www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org
(1) Philip J. Cook & Jens Ludwig, Guns in America, 1996, available at http://www.policefoundation.org/pdf/GunsinAmerica.pdf. 2,568 individuals, including 251 gun owners, were surveyed by telephone and asked how they obtained their firearms.
(2) In the 38 states that have not fully closed the private sale loophole, an estimated 9,856,984 background checks were conducted between November 2011 and November 2012, out of an estimated 16.5 million total firearm transfers in those states. 40 percent of this total—6.6 million transfers—occurred without background checks. Calculation based on FBI data. Available:online
(3) Daniel Webster, Jon Vernick, & 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, 2011.
(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) Uniform Crime Reports, FBI, 2011. An aggravated assault is an unlawful attack with the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury and using a weapon or means of inflicting severe harm, including assaults or attempts to kill or murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and mayhem. Law enforcement agencies in 46 states and DC submitted sufficient data for analysis — NY, IL, HI, and MS did not.
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