We know the fight to end gun violence cannot be won alone—which is why we’ve spent the last year partnering with one of the movement’s most powerful, active organizations, Americans for Responsible Solutions. We’re proud to release the latest in our series of Commonsense Solutions toolkits—this installment addresses the urgent need to protect children from firearms.
Too many families have needlessly suffered the devastation of a child lost to an unlocked gun. Almost 1.7 million children under the age of 18 live in homes with loaded, unlocked guns, making them 16 times more likely to be killed in unintentional shootings than in other high-income countries. Commonsense requirements for gun storage and handling can protect the littlest among us from preventable tragedies.
Check out our other Commonsense Solutions toolkits:
As the second anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary approaches, the Law Center is proud to release our 2014 Gun Law State Scorecard, grading each state on its gun laws and analyzing trends in gun legislation nationwide.
In the past two years, states have seen historic and unprecedented progress in adopting gun laws to help keep communities safe from gun violence. A total of 99 new laws strengthening gun regulations have passed in 37 states nationwide since December 12, 2012, and 10 states have made major overhauls to their gun laws. 2014 was a remarkable year for smart gun laws, with California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order law, Washington State’s successful ballot initiative for universal background checks, and seven states adopting legislation to keep guns out of the hands of domestic violence abusers, and look forward to building on this positive momentum in 2015.
The single biggest gap in our nation’s gun laws is the lack of a background check requirement when a gun is sold by an unlicensed individual. Unlike licensed gun dealers, unlicensed “private” sellers are not required to conduct background checks on gun purchasers. This gap allows thousands of dangerous people, including convicted felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill, to acquire guns every year, even though they are legally ineligible to possess them.
As part of our ongoing partnership, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and Americans for Responsible Solutions have created the third in our series of Commonsense Solutions toolkits. These comprehensive resources for legislators and advocates explore the many facets of America’s gun violence epidemic through distinct lenses, such as domestic violence and mental health. Commonsense Solutions: State Laws to Expand Background Checks for Unlicensed Gun Sales addresses the private sale background check gap and provides detailed, real-world solutions for state legislators to pass universal background checks and save lives.
This one-of-a-kind report on federal, state, and local gun laws is an invaluable resource for lawmakers, activists, and others seeking in-depth information on firearms regulation in a single publication. In addition to summarizing existing law and providing background information on gun policy, Regulating Guns in America offers common-sense, actionable legislative recommendations to prevent gun violence and save lives.
For the latest information on firearms regulations in all 50 states and the smart gun laws that can save lives, be sure to bookmark the Laws and Policies section of our website: smartgunlaws.org/gun-policy.
One of the most overlooked aspects of the gun debate in America is the deadly connection between guns and domestic violence. As part of our ongoing partnership with Americans for Responsible Solutions, the Law Center has developed Commonsense Solutions: State Laws to Address Gun Violence Against Women. This toolkit for legislators and advocates both documents existing laws on guns and domestic violence and offers suggestions for commonsense gun laws to better protect victims of domestic violence.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and we strongly believe that by implementing smart gun laws, we can reduce the number of domestic violence incidents that end in firearm-related deaths or injuries. While men and children can also be victims of domestic violence, women are particularly at risk.
Earlier this year, we announced an exciting new partnership between the Law Center and Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), the organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, retired combat veteran and NASA astronaut Mark Kelly. Together, we are committed to bringing some sanity to our nation’s gun laws.
With our more than 20 years of research and knowledge on the nation’s gun laws, and the powerful grassroots network cultivated by Americans for Responsible Solutions, together we are producing tools that will empower lawmakers and community members to stop gun violence before it happens.
The Law Center and Americans for Responsible Solutions will assist legislators by creating a series of toolkits that will aid in developing solutions to protect communities from gun violence while ensuring that the legislation complies with the Second Amendment. The toolkits on each topic will provide:
Evidence of the particular gap in current laws that perpetuate gun violence;
Effective, tested solutions to close the loophole;
Policy rationale for action;
Legal basis for new laws; and
Most importantly – straight-forward features of the policies that will guide legislative drafting.
The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is proud to partner with Americans for Responsible Solutions to release Warning Signs: Preventing Gun Violence in Crisis Situations. This collaborative report provides analysis of laws that help to empower community members to prevent gun violence in crisis situations.
Together, the Law Center and Americans for Responsible Solutions will continue to develop solutions to keep guns out of dangerous hands through careful research and legislative drafting. The Law Center’s unparalleled legal expertise and the formidable grassroots network of Americans for Responsible Solutions will ensure that the best information available on smart gun policies reaches legislators nationwide.
Preventing the Next Mass Shooting Before It’s News
Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, Newtown. Most Americans can easily list many of the high profile mass shootings that our nation has experienced. News reports after these events frequently mention that friends, family members, and acquaintances noted a change in the shooter’s behavior in the time leading up to the tragedy. While a variety of legislative proposals can help reduce mass shootings, one approach is to give community members ways to act, so that access to guns can be temporarily removed when a person is in crisis.
The National Physicians Alliance has partnered with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence to produce this report, which describes the public health approach to reducing gun violence, including policy recommendations.
As the publication describes, gun violence is not a problem without solutions. We know what works,
we’ve seen the difference it has made in California, and we are already seeing the same success in states around the country.
In 1989, a catastrophic event changed the perception of gun violence in California. A gunman took an assault rifle to Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, where he killed five children and wounded 29 others as well as one teacher.
In the early 1990s the toll of gun violence in California rose to unprecedented levels – at one point 15% higher than the national average.1
The parallels between the Stockton shooting and the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut are startling. As one news report observed, “Except for the fatal scale of the Connecticut shooting[,] the assault at Cleveland Elementary School here featured near-identical and tragic themes: young victims, a troubled gunman and a military-style rifle.”2
The Stockton shooting shocked California and the nation, igniting calls for change. Then, as now, change was not quick to come from Congress. Instead, it was California’s legislature that responded to the demand for action, adopting the first assault weapons ban in the country that same year.
U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-Based Injury Statistics Query & Reporting System (WISQARS), 1981-1998 Fatal Injury Report, 1981-1998, http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/mortrate9.html (accessed on July 11, 2013). ⤴︎
State laws regulating who can carry concealed, loaded handguns and where they may carry them are more permissive than ever before. In most states across the country, almost anyone may carry a concealed handgun in public after meeting some minimum permitting requirements. Still, a handful of states impose important restrictions limiting the number of guns in public, while Illinois and the District of Columbia continue to prohibit concealed carrying entirely.
Emboldened by its successes in state legislatures nationwide, the gun lobby has now turned its attention to Congress, where it is pushing legislation to impose national concealed carry “reciprocity.” Federal reciprocity would force states that issue concealed carry permits to recognize every other state’s permits, eviscerating every state’s authority to restrict who may carry guns within their borders. As described in our report, Forced Reciprocity: Why Your Community Shouldn’t Be Subject to Other States’ Weak Concealed Handgun Laws, forcing states to recognize other states’ permits poses a significant risk to public safety nationwide and tramples the abilities of states to set their own permitting standards to keep their citizens safe.