On the anniversary of Parkland shooting, February 14, President Joe Biden, saying “This Administration will not wait for the next mass shooting to heed that call. We will take action to end our epidemic of gun violence and make our schools and communities safer,” issued a demand that Congress enact “commonsense gun reform” including requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets. “We owe it to all those we’ve lost and to all those left behind to grieve to make a change. The time to act is now.”
Here is President Biden’s statement:
Three years ago today, a lone gunman took the lives of 14 students and three educators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In seconds, the lives of dozens of families, and the life of an American community, were changed forever.
For three years now, the Parkland families have spent birthdays and holidays without their loved ones. They’ve missed out on the experience of sending their children off to college or seeing them on their first job after high school. Like far too many families, they’ve had to bury pieces of their soul deep within the Earth. Like far too many families — and, indeed, like our nation — they’ve been left to wonder whether things would ever be okay.
These families are not alone. In big cities and small towns. In schools and shopping malls. In churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples. In movie theaters and concert halls. On city street corners that will never get a mention on the evening news. All across our nation, parents, spouses, children, siblings, and friends have known the pain of losing a loved one to gun violence. And in this season of so much loss, last year’s historic increase in homicides across America, including the gun violence disproportionately devastating Black and Brown individuals in our cities, has added to the number of empty seats at our kitchen tables. Today, as we mourn with the Parkland community, we mourn for all who have lost loved ones to gun violence.
Over these three years, the Parkland families have taught all of us something profound. Time and again, they have showed us how we can turn our grief into purpose – to march, organize, and build a strong, inclusive, and durable movement for change.
The Parkland students and so many other young people across the country who have experienced gun violence are carrying forward the history of the American journey. It is a history written by young people in each generation who challenged prevailing dogma to demand a simple truth: we can do better. And we will.
This Administration will not wait for the next mass shooting to heed that call. We will take action to end our epidemic of gun violence and make our schools and communities safer. Today, I am calling on Congress to enact commonsense gun law reforms, including requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets. We owe it to all those we’ve lost and to all those left behind to grieve to make a change. The time to act is now.
Former Vice President Joe Biden became the latest 2020 Democratic Candidate to come out with a detailed plan to end the epidemic of gun violence, once again proving that there is no shortage of pragmatic plans to solve the most intransient, important issues we face as a nation and a world – what has been lacking is political will. Have you seen a plan from Donald Trump? Me neither. – Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com
While Democratic leaders and the American public have reached an undeniable and
broad consensus about what needs to be done to address the gun violence
epidemic that has engulfed communities across America, Donald Trump, Mitch
McConnell, Congressional Republicans, and the NRA refuse to take any sensible
action. As president, Biden will not let anyone hold our nation’s children,
families, and communities hostage to the scourge of gun violence Americans face
Biden is introducing a bold, comprehensive plan that
not only calls for common sense gun safety reform, but outlines how he is going
to get it done for the American people. Biden’s plan calls for universal
background checks, closing loopholes in the background check system, banning
assault weapons and high capacity magazines, incentivizing states to establish
red flag law, holding gun manufacturers accountable, and investing in public
health research regarding the causes and prevention of gun violence.
As a leader who has championed common sense gun safety laws both as a United
States Senator and Vice President, Biden has unmatched substantive expertise on
addressing gun violence. He has been pushing the conversation on ending gun
violence for at least 25 years. And he has taken on the NRA twice and won –
first with the Brady Bill, which established firearms background check system,
and then securing the passage of a ten-year ban on assault rifles and high-capacity
magazines together with Senator Dianne Feinstein.
Based on his expertise and experience on this issue, Biden’s plan also includes
three standout sections that further demonstrate how he will end the gun
the daily combination of guns and domestic violence;
urban gun violence with targeted, evidence-based community interventions; and
survivors of violence and their communities.
the second anniversary of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American
history, Vice President Biden released a statement decrying Donald Trump’s
continued inaction on sensible gun reform and his capitulation to the NRA.
Biden also declared, “We can beat the NRA; we can get those weapons of war
off our streets; and we can make sure our children don’t grow up in constant
fear. Real leadership — moral leadership — can get these reforms done.”
Today’s plan follows Biden for President’s release of “Purpose,” a video
of gun safety advocate Fred Guttenberg who credits Biden for helping inspire
his mission as a gun safety advocate after his 14-year-old daughter was killed
in Parkland, Florida.
THE BIDEN PLAN TO END OUR GUN VIOLENCE EPIDEMIC
Joe Biden knows that gun violence is a public health epidemic. Almost 40,000 people die as a result of firearm injuries every year in the United States, and many more are wounded. Some of these deaths and injuries are the result of mass shootings that make national headlines. Others are the result of daily acts of gun violence or suicides that may not make national headlines, but are just as devastating to the families and communities left behind.
Joe Biden has taken on the National Rifle Association (NRA) on the national stage and won – twice. In 1993, he shepherded through Congress the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which established the background check system that has since kept more than 3 million firearms out of dangerous hands. In 1994, Biden – along with Senator Dianne Feinstein – secured the passage of 10-year bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. As president, Joe Biden will defeat the NRA again.
Joe Biden also knows how to make progress on reducing gun violence using executive action. After the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, President Obama tasked Vice President Biden with developing both legislative proposals and executive actions to make our communities safer. As a result of this effort, the Obama-Biden Administration took more than two dozen actions, including narrowing the so-called “gun show loophole,” increasing the number of records in the background check system, and expanding funding for mental health services.
It’s within our grasp to end our gun violence epidemic and respect the Second Amendment, which is limited. As president, Biden will pursue constitutional, common-sense gun safety policies. Biden will:
Hold gun manufacturers accountable. In 2005, then-Senator Biden voted against the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, but gun manufacturers successfully lobbied Congress to secure its passage. This law protects these manufacturers from being held civilly liable for their products – a protection granted to no other industry. Biden will prioritize repealing this protection.
Get weapons of war off our streets. The bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that Biden, along with Senator Feinstein, secured in 1994 reduced the lethality of mass shootings. But, in order to secure the passage of the bans, they had to agree to a 10-year sunset provision and when the time came, the Bush Administration failed to extend them. As president, Biden will:
Ban the manufacture and sale of assault
weapons and high-capacity magazines. Federal law prevents
hunters from hunting migratory game birds with more than three shells in their
shotgun. That means our federal law does more to protect ducks than children.
It’s wrong. Joe Biden will enact legislation to once again ban assault weapons.
This time, the bans will be designed based on lessons learned from the 1994
bans. For example, the ban on assault weapons will be designed to prevent
manufacturers from circumventing the law by making minor changes that don’t
limit the weapon’s lethality. While working to pass this legislation, Biden
will also use his executive authority to
ban the importation of assault weapons.
Regulate possession of existing assault
weapons under the National Firearms Act. Currently, the National Firearms
Act requires individuals possessing machine-guns, silencers, and short-barreled
rifles to undergo a background check and register those weapons with the Bureau
of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Due to these requirements,
such weapons are rarely used in
crimes. As president, Biden will pursue legislation to regulate possession of existing
assault weapons under the National Firearms Act.
Buy back the assault weapons and
high-capacity magazines already in our communities. Biden will also
institute a program to buy back weapons of war currently on our streets. This
will give individuals who now possess assault weapons or high-capacity
magazines two options: sell the weapons to the government, or register them
under the National Firearms Act.
Reduce stockpiling of weapons. In order
to reduce the stockpiling of firearms, Biden supports legislation restricting
the number of firearms an individual may purchase per month to one.
Keep guns out of dangerous hands. The
federal background check system (the National Instant Criminal Background Check
System) is one of the best tools we have to prevent gun violence, but it’s only
effective when it’s used. Biden will enact universal background check
legislation and close other loopholes that allow people who should be
prohibited from purchasing firearms from making those purchases. Specifically,
Require background checks for all gun
an estimated 1 in 5 firearms are
sold or transferred without a background check. Biden will enact universal
background check legislation, requiring a background check for all gun sales
with very limited exceptions, such as gifts between close family members. This
will close the so-called “gun show and online sales loophole” that the
Obama-Biden Administration narrowed, but which cannot be fully closed by
executive action alone.
Close other loopholes in the federal
background check system. In addition to closing the “boyfriend
loophole” highlighted below, Biden will:
Reinstate the Obama-Biden policy to keep
guns out of the hands of certain people unable to manage their affairs for
mental reasons, which President Trump reversed. In 2016, the
Obama-Biden Administration finalized a rule to make sure
the Social Security Administration (SSA) sends to the background check system
records that it holds of individuals who are prohibited from purchasing or
possessing firearms because they have been adjudicated by the SSA as unable to
manage their affairs for mental reasons. But one of the first actions Donald
Trump took as president was to reverse this rule.
President Biden will enact legislation to codify this policy.
Close the “hate crime loophole.” Biden will
enact legislation prohibiting
an individual “who has been convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime, or received
an enhanced sentence for a misdemeanor because of hate or bias in its
commission” from purchasing or possessing a firearm.
Close the “Charleston loophole.” The Charleston
loophole allows people to complete a firearms purchase if their background
check is not completed within three business days. Biden supports the proposal
in the Enhanced Background Checks Act of
2019, which extends the timeline from three to 10 business days.
Biden will also direct the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to put on his
desk within his first 100 days as president a report detailing the cases in
which background checks are not completed within 10 business days and steps the
federal government can take to reduce or eliminate this occurrence.
Close the “fugitive from justice”
loophole created by the Trump Administration. Because of actions by the
Trump Administration, records of almost 500,000 fugitives from justice who are
prohibited from purchasing firearms were deleted from the background check
system. The Biden Administration will restore these records, and enact
legislation to make clear that people facing arrest warrants are prohibited
from purchasing or possessing firearms.
End the online sale of firearms and
will enact legislation to
prohibit all online sales of firearms, ammunition, kits, and gun parts.
Create an effective program to ensure
individuals who become prohibited from possessing firearms relinquish their
law defines categories of individuals who are prohibited from purchasing or
possessing firearms, and the federal background check system is an effective
tool for ensuring prohibited persons cannot purchase firearms. But we lack any
serious tool to ensure that when someone becomes newly prohibited – for example,
because they commit a violent crime – they relinquish possession of their
firearms. There are some promising models for how this could be enforced. For example, California
has a mandatory process for ensuring relinquishment by any individual newly
subject to a domestic violence restraining order. As president, Biden will
direct the FBI and ATF to outline a model relinquishment process, enact any
necessary legislation to ensure relinquishment when individuals newly fall
under one of the federal prohibitions, and then provide technical and financial
assistance to state and local governments to establish effective relinquishment
processes on their own.
Incentivize state “extreme risk”
laws. Extreme risk laws, also
called “red flag” laws, enable family members or law enforcement officials to
temporarily remove an individual’s access to firearms when that individual is
in crisis and poses a danger to themselves or others. Biden will incentivize
the adoption of these laws by giving states funds to implement them. And, he’ll
direct the U.S. Department of Justice to issue best practices and offer
technical assistance to states interested in enacting an extreme risk law.
Give states incentives to set up gun
licensing programs. Biden will enact legislation to give
states and local governments grants to require individuals to obtain a license
prior to purchasing a gun.
Adequately fund the background check
Obama and Vice President Biden expanded incentives for
states to submit records of prohibited persons into the background checks
system. As president, Biden will continue to prioritize that funding and ensure
that the FBI is adequately funded to accurately and efficiently handle the NICS
THE DEADLY COMBINATION OF GUNS AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
The statistics tell a devastating and overwhelming story. The likelihood that a
woman in a domestic violence situation will be killed increases by a factor of five if a
gun is nearby. Half of mass
shootings involve an individual shooting a family member or former intimate
partner. This deadly connection tragically impacts children as well: 86% of children
killed in shootings with four or more victims were involved in domestic or
Biden recognizes that the gun violence and domestic violence epidemics are
linked and cannot be solved in isolation. Addressing the interconnectedness of
these challenges will be a core focus of Biden’s anti-violence work as
The Violence Against Women
Reauthorization Act of 2019, which Leader McConnell refuses to bring
to the floor for a vote, includes a number of reforms to keep firearms out of
the hands of abusers. Senator McConnell should ensure this legislation gets
passed long before President Biden would take the oath of office. But if
McConnell refuses to act, Biden will enact legislation to close the so-called
“boyfriend loophole” and “stalking loophole” by prohibiting all individuals
convicted of assault, battery, or stalking from purchasing or possessing
firearms, regardless of their connection to the victim. This proposal is
modeled after existing laws in California,
Connecticut, Hawaii, Nevada, New York, and Pennsylvania. Biden also supports
enacting the proposal to
prohibit anyone under a temporary restraining order from purchasing or
possessing a firearm before their hearing.
In addition, President Biden will:
Establish a new Task Force on Online
Harassment and Abuse to focus on the connection between mass shootings, online
harassment, extremism, and violence against women. As President,
Joe Biden will convene a national Task Force with federal agencies, state
leaders, advocates, law enforcement, and technology experts to study rampant
online sexual harassment, stalking, and threats, including revenge porn and
deepfakes — and the connection between this harassment, mass shootings,
extremism and violence against women. The Task Force will be charged with developing
cutting-edge strategies and recommendations for how federal and state
governments, social media companies, schools, and other public and private
entities can tackle this unique challenge. The Task Force will consider
platform accountability, transparent reporting requirements for incidents of
harassment and response, and best practices.
Expand the use of evidence-based
lethality assessments by law enforcement in cases of domestic violence. Lethality
assessments, sometimes called “risk” or “danger” assessments, are a proven
strategy to help law enforcement officers identify domestic violence survivors
who are at high risk of being killed by their abusers. These survivors are then
connected with social service programs that can offer services and safety
planning. An evaluation of the Lethality Assessment Program (LEP) created by
the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence showed promising results.
Increased federal funding will incentivize jurisdictions to take advantage of
implementing these programs more widely.
Make sure firearm owners take on the responsibility
of ensuring their weapons are used safely.
Put America on the path to ensuring that
100% of firearms sold in America are smart guns. Today, we have
the technology to allow only authorized users to fire a gun. For example,
existing smart gun technology requires a fingerprint match before use. Biden
believes we should work to eventually require that 100% of firearms sold in the
U.S. are smart guns. But, right now the NRA and gun manufacturers are bullying
firearms dealers who try to sell these guns. Biden will stand up against these
bullying tactics and issue a call to action for gun manufacturers, dealers, and
other public and private entities to take steps to accelerate our transition to
Hold adults accountable for giving
minors access to firearms. Biden supports legislation holding
adults criminally and civilly liable for directly or negligently giving a minor
access to a firearm, regardless of whether the minor actually gains possession
of the firearm.
Require gun owners to safely store their
will pass legislation requiring firearm owners to store weapons safely in their
Empower law enforcement to effectively
enforce our gun laws.
Prioritize prosecution of straw
purchasers” buy a firearm on behalf of an individual who cannot pass a
background check. Biden will end those loopholes by enacting a law to make all
straw purchases a serious federal crime and ensure the U.S. Justice Department
has sufficient resources to prioritize their prosecution.
Notify law enforcement when a potential
firearms purchaser fails a background check. Too often, when prohibited
persons attempting to buy a firearm fail a background check, state and local
law enforcement is never informed of the attempt. As president, Biden will
direct the FBI to set up a process to ensure timely notification of denials to
state and local law enforcement, and he’ll support legislation to
codify this process. This empowers law enforcement to follow up and ensure
prohibited persons do not attempt to acquire firearms through other means.
Require firearms owners to report if
their weapon is lost or stolen. Responsible gun owners have a responsibility
to inform law enforcement if their weapon is lost or stolen. Biden will enact
legislation to make this the law of the land.
Stop “ghost guns.” One way people
who cannot legally obtain a gun may gain access to a weapon is by assembling a
one on their own, either by buying a kit of disassembled gun parts or 3D
printing a working firearm. Biden will stop the proliferation of these
so-called “ghost guns” by passing legislation requiring that purchasers of gun
kits or 3D printing code pass a federal background check. Additionally, Biden
will ensure that the authority for firearms exports stays with the State
Department, and if needed reverse a proposed rule by
President Trump. This will ensure the State Department continues to block the
code used to 3D print firearms from being made available on the Internet.
Reform, fund, and empower the U.S.
Justice Department to enforce our gun laws. Biden will direct his
Attorney General to deliver to him within his first 100 days a set of
recommendations for restructuring the ATF and related Justice Department
agencies to most effectively enforce our gun laws. Biden will then work to secure
sufficient funds for the Justice Department to effectively enforce our existing
gun laws, increase the frequency of inspections of firearms dealers, and repeal
riders that get in the way of that work.
Direct the ATF to issue an annual
report on firearms
trafficking. This report will provide officials with critical
information to better identify strategies for curbing firearms trafficking.
GUN VIOLENCE WITH TARGETED, EVIDENCE-BASED COMMUNITY INTERVENTIONS
Daily acts of gun violence in our communities may not make national headlines,
but are just as devastating to survivors and victims’ families as gun violence
that does make the front page. And, these daily acts of gun violence
disproportionately impact communities of color. But there is reason to be
optimistic. There are proven strategies for
reducing gun violence in urban communities without turning to incarceration.
For example, Group Violence Intervention organizes
community leaders to work with individuals most likely to commit acts of gun
violence, express the community’s demand that the gun violence stop, and
connect individuals who may be likely perpetrators with social and economic
support services that may deter violent behavior. These types of interventions
have reduced homicides by as much as 60%. Hospital-Based Violence
Intervention engages young people who have been injured by gun
violence while they are still in the hospital, connecting them to social and
economic services that may decrease the likelihood they engage in or are
victims of gun violence in the future. Biden will create a $900 million, eight-year
initiative to fund these and other types of evidence-based
interventions in 40 cities across the country – the 20 cities with the highest
number of homicides, and 20 cities with the highest number of homicides per
capita. This proposal is estimated to save more than 12,000
lives over the eight-year program.
Dedicate the brightest scientific minds
to solving the gun violence public health epidemic. In 2013, President Obama issued a memorandum clarifying
that a longstanding appropriations rider that prohibited the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal scientific agencies from
using federal dollars to “advocate or promote gun control”
does not prohibit those agencies from researching the causes and prevention of
gun violence. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) subsequently embarked on funding
some of this research, though Republican leadership in Congress refused to
appropriate any funds to the CDC for this work. Biden will call for Congress to
appropriate $50 million to
accelerate this research at the CDC and NIH.
Prohibit the use of federal funds
to arm or train educators to discharge firearms. We should be passing rational gun laws, not requiring educators
who already have too much on their plates to also protect the safety of their
students. Biden supports barring states from using federal dollars to arm or
train educators to discharge firearms.
Address the epidemic of suicides
by firearms. Biden believes any plan to
address the gun violence epidemic must address suicides by firearms, which
account for 6 in 10 gun-related
deaths but are often left out of the conversation. Many of the policies noted
above – including safe storage requirements and extreme risk protection orders
– will have a serious impact on efforts to reduce gun violence. But there’s so
much more we need to do to support people experiencing suicidal ideation. In
the months ahead, Biden will put forward a comprehensive plan to improve access
to mental health services.
SURVIVORS OF VIOLENCE AND THEIR COMMUNITIES
Violence causes ripples of trauma throughout our communities, impacting not
just the victims of violence but also their communities and first responders.
Fear of school shootings is having a noticeable impact on
the mental health of Gen Z. Intimate partner violence is linked to
depression, post-traumatic stress, and other mental health challenges among
survivors. And, this trauma can be intergenerational. Science now shows that young
children who witness violence – including in their home – literally alters the
parts of their brains that affect “reasoning, planning, and behavioral
We need to reduce violence to prevent trauma from happening in the first place.
But we also must treat the resulting trauma as a serious crisis in its own
As president, Biden will:
Make federal programs more
trauma-informed. During his first 100 days, Biden will direct his
Cabinet to conduct a review of all federal programs that directly serve
communities likely to experience violence and identify reforms to make sure
those programs effectively address resulting trauma. Biden will then invest
significant federal funds in expanding and improving the federal government’s
support for trauma-informed and culturally responsive care.
Create a network of trauma care centers. Biden will
bring together offices within the federal government to establish specialized
trauma care centers for survivors of violence, with a special focus on
survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Domestic violence services are
focused on meeting the emergency needs of survivors, including safety planning
and crisis intervention. As a result, frontline providers lack the resources
they need to offer therapeutic services to help survivors heal from trauma.
These trauma care centers will be flexible in meeting the needs of communities,
and could be housed at rape crisis centers, domestic violence programs,
universities, and existing mental health centers.
Train health care and other service
providers in trauma-centered care. To prevent
revictimization and secondary trauma, Biden will align training efforts
throughout relevant federal programs to include a focus on understanding the
traumatic effects of violence, providing appropriate care to avoid furthering
the trauma, linking survivors with evidence-based trauma therapies, and
reducing myths about domestic and sexual violence. This will be accomplished
through agency directives, policy guidance, and special conditions for grantees
For more on Vice President
Biden’s plan, see HERE.
All the Democratic candidates for 2020 have strong stands
on gun safety regulations they would implement to reduce the sick, tragic
epidemic of gun violence.
Beto O’Rourke had his break-out moment at the third
Democratic Debate, in Houston no less, forcefully declaring, “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We’re
not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore. If the
high-impact, high-velocity round, when it hits your body, shreds everything
inside of your body because it was designed to do that so that you would bleed
to death on a battlefield … when we see that being used against children.”
Senator Amy Klobuchar was joined at the Democratic Debate in Houston by gun safety activists from across the country and following the debate, issued her detailed plan for enacting gun safety measures. This is from the Klobuchar campaign:
MINNEAPOLIS, MN — Gun violence in America has cut short far too many lives, torn families apart and plagued communities across the country. This year there has been an average of about one mass shooting a week in which three or more people have died, including the shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio that killed 31 people in less than 24 hours. At the same time, everyday gun violence in this country continues to take the lives of the equivalent of a classroom of school children every week.
The gun homicide rate in the United States is 25 times higher than other developed countries and gun safety laws are long overdue. Senator Klobuchar has been standing up to the NRA and fighting for stronger gun safety measures since she was the Hennepin County Attorney, working with local law enforcement to push to ban military-style assault weapons. In the Senate, she has supported legislation to ban assault weapons and bump stocks and improve background checks.
As a member of the Judiciary Committee, she authored legislation that would prevent convicted stalkers from purchasing firearms and close the “boyfriend loophole” by expanding the definition of a domestic abuser to include dating partners. That Klobuchar legislation has now passed the House of Representatives and has been blocked by Republicans in the Senate.
Because of her leadership on gun violence prevention, Senator Klobuchar advocated for gun safety legislation at a meeting with President Trump at the White House after Parkland. Seated across from Senator Klobuchar at the meeting, President Trump publicly declared that he supported doing something on background checks nine times. The next day he then met with the NRA and folded. The legislation never was pushed by the White House.
At tonight’s debate, Senator Klobuchar is joined by gun safety activists Roberta McKelvin, Perry and Sharia Bradley, and Mattie Scott as well as the former mayor of Cedar Rapids, IA, Kay Halloran, who is a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition.
vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has
produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Senator Elizabeth
Warren released her plan to protect communities from gun violence. This is from
the Warren2020 campaign (Read it here).
“The conversation about
gun violence in America is shifting — but not just because we’ve seen a spike
in violence fueled by the NRA and the Trump administration’s dangerous policies
and extremist rhetoric. It’s also because of the tireless work of activists,
organizers, and community leaders who have been fighting for reform at the
state and local level.
“If you need proof that the majority
of Americans support common sense gun reform, look at what’s happening in state
legislatures and city councils across the country. Moms, students, and faith
leaders have been packing hearing rooms and taking back spaces formerly reserved
for NRA lobbyists. Survivors of mass shootings are doing the critical work of
turning our attention to the daily gun violence in cities that doesn’t make
“And it’s working. States that pass
expanded background checks see lower rates of gun-related deaths and gun
trafficking. States that disarm domestic abusers see lower rates of intimate
partner gun violence. States with extreme risk laws have been successful in
reducing gun suicides and have used them to prevent potential mass shootings.
Community-based violence intervention programs are popping up in cities across
“Together, we can build on this
momentum. We can build a grassroots movement to take back the Senate, eliminate
the filibuster, and pass federal gun safety legislation that will save lives.
And from the White House, I’ll make sure that the NRA and their cronies are
held accountable with executive action. If we turn our heartbreak and our anger
into action, I know we can take the power from the NRA and the lawmakers in
their pockets and return it to the people.”
Charlestown, MA – Prior to her appearance at the Everytown presidential forum,
Elizabeth Warren released her plan to confront gun violence in America.
Yesterday, she called on Walmart to stop selling
guns — one of the largest gun retailers in the world.
Elizabeth will set a goal of reducing
gun deaths in this country by 80%, starting with an ambitious set of executive
actions she will take as president. In order to break the hold of the NRA and
the gun lobby, she will pass her sweeping anti-corruption legislation and
eliminate the filibuster to pass gun legislation in her first 100 days. She
supports federal licensing, universal background checks, a military-style
assault weapon ban, higher taxes on guns and ammunition, and closing the
loopholes to make it harder for someone violent to get a gun.
We know that Black and Latinx
Americans have borne the brunt of the gun violence tragedy in our country.
Instead of focusing solely on law enforcement and incarceration, Elizabeth will
invest in interventions designed to stop gun violence before it occurs by
piloting evidence-based community violence intervention programs at scale.
She will call on Congress to repeal
the liability shield that protects the industry – and then go further, by
establishing a federal private right of action to allow survivors of gun
violence to get their day in court. Her plan also includes $100 million
annually for gun safety research, and commits to study the reforms we enact to
see what’s working, and send Congress updated reform proposals on an annual
Faced with a complex and entrenched
public health crisis, made worse by the ongoing inability of a corrupt
government to do anything about it, it’s easy to despair. But we are not
incapable of solving big problems. We’ve done it before.
In 1965, more than five people died in
automobile accidents for every 100 million miles traveled. It was a massive
crisis. As a nation, we decided to do better. Some things were obvious:
seatbelts, safer windshields, and padded dashboards. Other things only became
clear over time: things like airbags and better brake systems. But we made
changes, we did what worked, and we kept at it. Over fifty years, we reduced
per-mile driving deaths by almost 80% and prevented 3.5 million automobile
deaths. And we’re still at it.
In 2017, almost 40,000 people
died from guns in the United States. My goal as President, and our goal as a
society, will be to reduce that number by 80%. We might not know how to get all
the way there yet. But we’ll start by implementing solutions that we believe
will work. We’ll continue by constantly revisiting and updating those solutions
based on new public health research. And we’ll make structural changes to end
the ability of corrupt extremists to block our government from defending the
lives of our people — starting with ending the filibuster.
Here’s what that will look like.
As president, I will immediately take
executive action to rein in an out-of-control gun industry — and to hold both
gun dealers and manufacturers accountable for the violence promoted by their
I will break the NRA’s stranglehold on
Congress by passing sweeping anti-corruption legislation and eliminating the
filibuster so that our nation can no longer be held hostage by a small group of
well-financed extremists who have already made it perfectly clear that they
will never put the safety of the American people first.
I will send Congress comprehensive gun
violence prevention legislation. I will sign it into law within my first 100
days. And we will revisit this comprehensive legislation every single year —
adding new ideas and tweaking existing ones based on new data — to continually
reduce the number of gun deaths in America.
Executive Action to Reduce
Reform advocates are engaged in a
valuable discussion about gun reforms that can be achieved by executive action.
We must pursue these solutions to the fullest extent of the law, including by
redefining anyone “engaged in the business”
of dealing in firearms to include the vast majority of gun sales outside of
family-to-family exchanges. This will extend requirements — not only for
background checks, but all federal gun rules — to cover all of those sales.
Requiring background checks. We will
bring the vast majority of private sales, including at gun shows and online,
under the existing background check umbrella.
Reporting on multiple purchases. We
will extend the existing requirement to report bulk sales to nearly all gun
sales. And I’ll extend existing reporting requirements on the mass purchase of
certain rifles from the southwestern border states to all 50 states.
Raising the minimum age. We will
expand the number of sales covered by existing age restriction provisions that
require the purchaser to be at least 18 years old, keeping guns out of the
hands of more teenagers.
My administration will use
all the authorities at the federal government’s disposal to investigate and
prosecute all those who circumvent or violate existing federal gun laws. This
Prosecuting gun traffickers. Gun
trafficking across state lines allows
guns to move from states with fewer restrictions to those with strict safety
standards, and gun trafficking across our southern border contributes to gang
violence that sends migrants fleeing north. I’ll instruct my Attorney General
to go after the interstate and transnational gun trafficking trade with all the
resources of the federal government.
Revoking licenses for gun dealers who
break the rules. Only 1% of gun dealers are responsible for 57% of guns used in
crimes. My Administration will direct the ATF to prioritize oversight of
dealers with serial compliance violations — and then use its authority to
revoke the license of dealers who repeatedly violate the rules.
Investigating the NRA and its cronies.
The NRA is accused of exploiting loopholes in federal laws governing
non-profit spending to divert member dues into lavish payments for
its board members and senior leadership. I’ll appoint an attorney general
committed to investigating these types of corrupt business practices, and the
banks and third-party vendors — like Wells Fargo — that
enabled the NRA to skirt the rules for so long.
To protect the most
vulnerable, my administration will use ATF’s existing regulatory authority to
the greatest degree possible, including by:
Protecting survivors of domestic
abuse. We will close the so-called “boyfriend loophole” by
defining intimate partner to include anyone with a domestic violence conviction
involving any form of romantic partner.
Reversing the Trump administration’s
efforts to weaken our existing gun rules. We will rescind the Trump-era rules
and policies that weaken our gun safety regime, including rules that lower the standards for
purchasing a gun, and those that make it easier to create untraceable weapons
or modify weapons in ways that circumvent the law. This includes overturning
Trump-era policies enabling
3-D printed guns, regulating 80% receivers as firearms,
and reversing the ATF ruling that allows a shooter to convert a pistol to a
short-barreled rifle using pistol braces.
Restrict the movement of guns across
our borders. We will reverse the Trump administration’s efforts to make
it easier to export U.S.-manufactured
weapons by transferring exports of semi-automatic firearms and ammunition from
the State Department to the Commerce Department, and we will prevent the import
of foreign-manufactured assault weapons into the United States.
The shooting in El Paso
also reminds us that we need to call out white nationalism for what it is:
domestic terrorism. Instead of a president who winks and nods as white
nationalism gets stronger in this country, we need a president who will use all
the tools available to prevent it. It is completely incompatible with our
American values, it is a threat to American safety and security, and a Warren
Justice Department will prosecute it to the fullest extent of the law.
Structural Changes to Pass Gun Safety Legislation
The next president has a moral
obligation to use whatever executive authority she has to address the gun
crisis. But it is obvious that executive action is not enough. Durable reform
requires legislation — but right now legislation is impossible. Why? A virulent
mix of corruption and abuse of power.
Big money talks in Washington. And the
NRA represents a particularly noxious example of Washington corruption at work.
Over the last two decades, the NRA has spent over $200 million on
lobbying Congress, influencing elections, and buying off politicians — and
that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The NRA spends millions poisoning our
political discourse with hateful, conspiracy-fueled propaganda, blocking even
modest reforms supported by 90% of American voters.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook
massacre, the American people rallied for reform. President Obama suggested
several serious legislative changes. The Senate voted down an assault weapons
ban. It rejected a background checks proposal, even though 54 Senators from
both parties voted for it, because of a right-wing-filibuster. These were the
bare minimum steps we needed to take. And six years later, Congress still
hasn’t done a thing.
This pattern repeats itself throughout
our government. When money and influence can override the will of a huge
majority of Americans, that is corruption, pure and simple.
It’s time to fight back. I
have proposed the most sweeping set of anticorruption reforms since
Watergate — a set of big structural changes that includes ending lobbying as we
know it and slamming shut the revolving door. My first priority when I’m
elected President is to enact this package to get our government working for
But anti-corruption legislation alone
won’t be enough to get gun safety legislation done. After decades of inaction,
Democrats have rallied behind a number of important gun reforms. If we continue
to allow bought and paid for extremists in the Senate to thwart the will of the
people, we will never enact any of them.
Enough is enough. Lasting
gun reform requires the elimination of the filibuster.
Legislation to Reduce Gun
When I am president, I will send
Congress comprehensive legislation containing our best ideas about what will
work to reduce gun violence.
It starts by ensuring that safe, responsible ownership is the standard for
everyone who chooses to own a gun. We’ll do that by:
Creating a federal licensing system.
States with strict licensing requirements experience lower rates of gun
trafficking and violence. A license is required to drive a car, and Congress
should establish a similarly straightforward federal licensing system for the
purchase of any type of firearm or ammunition.
Requiring universal background checks.
I’ll expand background checks via executive action — but Congress should act to
permanently mandate universal background checks. And I’ll push Congress to
close the so-called “Charleston loophole”
that allows a sale to proceed after three days even if the background check is
Increasing taxes on gun manufacturers.
Since 1919, the federal
government has imposed an excise tax on manufacturers and importers of guns and
ammunition. Handguns are taxed at 10% and other guns and ammunition are taxed
at 11%. These taxes raise less in revenue than the federal excise tax on
cigarettes, domestic wine, or even airline tickets. It’s time for Congress to
raise those rates — to 30% on guns and 50% on ammunition — both to reduce new
gun and ammunition sales overall and to bring in new federal revenue that we
can use for gun violence prevention and enforcement of existing gun laws.
Establishing a real waiting period.
Waiting periods prevent impulsive gun violence, reducing gun suicides by 7–11% and gun
homicides by 17%. Over the past 5
years, a national handgun waiting period would have stopped at least 4,550 gun
deaths. The federal government should establish a one-week waiting period for
all firearm purchases.
Capping firearms purchases.
About one out of four of
firearms recovered at the scene of a crime were part of a bulk purchase.
Congress should limit the number of guns that can be purchased to one per
month, similar to a Virginia law that
successfully reduced the likelihood of Virginia-bought guns being used in
Creating a new federal anti-trafficking
law. Congress should make clear that trafficking firearms or engaging in “straw
purchases” — when an individual buys a gun on behalf of a prohibited purchaser
— are federal crimes. This would give law enforcement new tools to crack down
on gun trafficking and help keep guns out of the wrong hands.
Raising the minimum age for gun
purchases. I’ll extend existing age requirements to virtually all sales, but
federal law is currently conflicting — for example, a person must be 21 to
purchase a handgun from a federally licensed dealer, but only 18 to purchase a
rifle. Congress should set the federal minimum age at 21 for all gun sales.
We can also do more to
keep military-style assault weapons off our streets. We’ll do that by:
Passing a new federal assault weapons
ban. The 1994 federal assault weapons ban successfully reduced gun deaths
but was allowed to expire ten years later. Congress should again ban the future
production, sale, and importation of military-style assault weapons, and
require individuals already in possession of assault weapons to register them
under the National Firearms Act. Just as we did successfully with machine guns
after the passage of that law, we should establish a buyback program to allow
those who wish to do so to return their weapon for safe disposal, and
individuals who fail to register or return their assault weapon should face
Banning high-capacity ammunition
magazines. High-capacity magazines were used in 57% of mass shootings from 2009
to 2015, allowing the shooters to target large numbers of people without
stopping to reload. Congress should enact a federal ban on large-capacity
magazines for all firearms, setting reasonable limits on the lethality of these
Prohibiting accessories that make
weapons more deadly. Gun manufacturers sell increasingly deadly gun
accessories, including silencers, trigger cranks, and other mechanisms that
increase the rate of fire or make semi-automatic weapons fully automatic.
Congress should ban these dangerous accessories entirely.
We should also do
everything possible to keep guns out of the hands of those at highest risk of
violence. We’ll do that by:
Passing extreme risk protection laws.
Extreme risk protection orders allow families and law enforcement to petition
to temporarily restrict access to firearms for individuals in crisis or at
elevated risk of harming themselves or others. Congress should pass a federal
extreme risk law and create a grant system to incentivize states to enact their
own laws that clearly define extreme risk.
Prohibiting anyone convicted of a hate
crime from owning a gun. Too often, guns are used in acts of mass violence
intended to provoke fear in minority communities; more than 10,000 hate crimes
involve a gun every year. Any individual convicted of a hate crime should be
permanently prohibited from owning a gun, full stop.
Protecting survivors of domestic
abuse. Domestic violence and gun violence are deeply connected — in an average
month, more than 50 women are shot
and killed by an intimate partner. I’ll close the boyfriend loophole, but
Congress should make that permanent, and expand the law to include individuals
with restraining orders or who have been convicted of stalking.
Securing our schools. Parents
shouldn’t have to buy bullet-proof backpacks for
their children — guns have no place on our campuses or in our schools. Congress
should improve the Gun-Free School Zones Act to include college and university
campuses, and apply to individuals licensed by a state or locality to carry a
If we want real,
long-lasting change, we must also hold the gun industry accountable, including
online sites that look the other way when sellers abuse their platforms. We’ll
do that by:
Repealing the Protection of Lawful
Commerce in Arms Act. Nearly every other industry has civil liability as a
check on irresponsible actions, but a 2005 law insulates firearms and dealers
from civil liability when a weapon is used to commit a crime, even in cases
when dealers were shockingly irresponsible. No one should be above the law, and
that includes the gun industry. Congress should repeal this law, immediately.
Holding gun manufacturers strictly
liable for the harm they cause through a federal private right of action. Gun
manufacturers make billions in profit by knowingly selling deadly products.
Then they are let completely off the hook when people take those deadly
products and inflict harm on thousands of victims each year. State tort law
already recognizes that certain types of products and activities are so
abnormally dangerous that the entities responsible for them should be held
strictly liable when people are injured. Congress should codify that same
principle at the federal level for guns by creating a new private right of
action allowing survivors of gun violence to hold the manufacturer of the
weapon that harmed them strictly liable forcompensatory damages to
the victim or their family.
Strengthening ATF. The NRA has long
sought to hobble the ATF, lobbying against staffing and
funding increases for the agency and getting its congressional allies to
impose absurd restrictions on
its work even as the agency struggled to meet its basic responsibilities.
Congress should fully fund ATF’s regulatory and compliance programs and remove
the riders and restrictions that prevent it from doing its job.
Regulating firearms for consumer
safety. Today there are no federal safety standards for
firearms produced in the United States. We can recall unsafe products from
trampolines to children’s pajamas — but not defective guns. Congress should
repeal the provision of law that prevents the Consumer Product Safety
Commission from regulating the safety of firearms and their accessories.
Tightening oversight for gun dealers.
Today there is no requirement for federally-licensed gun shops to take even
simple steps to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands. Congress should
pass basic safety standards for federally-licensed gun dealers, including
employee background checks, locked cabinets, and up-to-date inventories of the
weapons they have in stock.
Holding gun industry CEOs personally
accountable. I’ve proposed a lawthat would impose
criminal liability and jail time for corporate executives when their company is
found guilty of a crime or their negligence causes severe harm to American
families — and that includes gun industry CEOs.
Tragedies like the shootings we
witnessed in El Paso and Dayton capture our attention and dominate the
conversation about gun reform. But they’re just the tip of the iceberg of gun
violence in America. Everyday, we lose one hundred Americans
to gun violence, with hundreds more physically injured and countless more
mentally and emotionally traumatized. And Black and Latinx Americans have borne
the brunt of the gun violence tragedy in our country.
In the past, those statistics have been used to justify increased policing
and strict sentencing laws. Communities already traumatized by gun violence
were doubly victimized by policies that locked up their young people and threw
away the key. We’ve got a chance to show that we’ve learned from the past and
to chart a new path. It starts by acknowledging that gun violence is a public
health crisis, one that cannot be solved solely by the criminal justice system.
We can start to do that by investing
in evidence-based community violence intervention programs. Federal grant
funding today focuses significantly on law enforcement and incarceration,
rather than interventions designed to stop gun violence before it occurs. The
data in urban communities indicate that the majority of violence is perpetrated
by a small number of
offenders, and many cities have found success with programs that identify those
at highest risk of becoming the victim or perpetrator of a violent gun crime,
then employing strategies to interrupt the cycle of violence before it
escalates. Programs that engage the surrounding community, employ mediation to
prevent retaliation, build trust with law enforcement, and provide needed
long-term social services have been proven to de-escalate tensions and dramatically reduce violence.
As president, I’ll establish a grant program to invest in and pilot these types
of evidence-based intervention programs at scale.
Annual Research and Annual
Historically, when Congress works to
address big national issues, we don’t simply pass one law and cross our
fingers. Instead, we continue the research — into new policies and around the
consequences of our existing policies — and then come back on a regular basis
to update the law.
We don’t do this with guns. Not only
have we not passed meaningful legislation in almost a generation, but thanks to the NRA, for
decades Congress prohibited federal funding from being used to promote gun
safety at all, effectively freezing nearly all research on ways to reduce gun
violence. Last year, Congress finally clarified that the CDC could in fact
conduct gun violence research — but provided no funding to do so.
This ends when I’m President. My
budget will include an annual investment of $100 million for DOJ and HHS to
conduct research into the root causes of gun violence and the most effective
ways to prevent it, including by analyzing gun trafficking patterns, and
researching new technologies to improve gun safety. These funds will also be
used to study the reforms we enact — to see what’s working, what new ideas
should be added, and what existing policies should be tweaked. And every year,
I will send Congress an updated set of reforms based on this new information.
That’s how we’ll meet our goal.
The reaction to the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, the deadliest against the Jewish community in American history, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum told the Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in Manhattan, to be more Jewish, more visibility, not be (terrorized) into bunkers or invisibility.
Leading a communal shiva service, she said, “We will study, build community and not lose our focus as to what it is to be Jewish.”
New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, addressing a communal Shiva gathering for victims of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh said, “The word is resilience, a refusal to succumb to victimhood. That’s how we win out. Willingness to gather as a community …
“The shock, outrage, disbelief, overwhelming sadness and grief is overwhelming,” she said.
“How it happened? We don’t have political courage to ban weapons that allow such carnage.
“As to why? We know there is hatred, evil, but in t last two years, it has evolved… Evil lurking under surface, the serpents feeling they can rise up out from under rocks because leadership is willing to do the same. .. What was submerged is unleashed.
“What gives hope is the knowledge that no child is born anti-Semitic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic. [We must] capture hearts and minds of next generation before they learn hate.”
She advised, “Live a more publicly Jewish way, not be a victim, but embrace your heritage and embrace the ones not yet [tainted] by hate. Push [hate] back under a rock.
“On behalf of Governor Cuomo and 20 million New Yorkers, I express condolences to all of us because we are all heartbroken today.”
Rabbi Kleinbaum noted that the first response after the news of the massacre in Pittsburgh came via text and email from Muslim and Christian leaders in the city.
She said that since the inauguration, she and members of the synagogue have held a vigil at the nearby mosque every Friday, to stand up for Muslims who have been vilified by Trump.
“We say to ourselves what would it have been like in Berlin, in Vienna, if non-Jewish Germans and Austrians stood with their Jewish neighbors.
And now, the Iman has said his members would come to the synagogue this Friday before Shabbat services.
“We are in solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters,” he wrote. “Throughout the constant attacks and dehumanization from this administration, [Beit Simcha Torah] has been a source of faith and love. … Our duty is to stand with our Jewish brother and sisters. We stand with them, put our bodies on the line for their safety. … [We must] stamp out White Supremacy and anti-Semitism….Any attack on your community is an attack on ours.”
Rabbi Kleinman said, “We can replace hate in the world, the violence, with love.”
She noted that the attack on Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh was not only an act of anti-Semitism, but because the synagogue supported refugees to the US.
“Abraham was told to leave his home, go to a place he did not know and build and live there.
HIAS – Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society – provided finances to help Jews, and today, HIAS helps non-Jews become part of the American tapestry, “because we are Jews, we welcome the stranger, the immigrant,” she said.
“God forbid this act of violence deters us from that, puts us into bunkers. That’s what the terrorists, anti-Semities want…. We must respond to anti-Semitism with deepened strength of Jewish identity. We must not let fear, despair control us.
At the end of the service, members of the synagogue’s board read the names and something personal about each of the 11 victims at Tree of Life Synagogue, murdered for no other reason than being Jewish. Most notably, was the personal remembrance of Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, 66 years old, who was one of the first to treat people with HIV. The gentleman had grown up in Pittsburgh and was treated by Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, until he left Pittsburgh in 2004. “He was the one to go to. He was known in the community for keeping us alive the longest. He held us without gloves. You will be remembered by me always. You are one of my heroes.”
It is also notable that the first to treat the assassin at the hospital were Jewish, including a doctor who was a congregant at Tree of Life.
“I refuse to give up on the dream of what this world could be,” Rabbi Kleinbaum said, “[to be a victim of] the violence, hatred unleashed by this administration. I refuse to give up on the power of human beings. We who are Jews, have a deep and proud tradition. There are those who would want us to turn inward. Don’t believe that.
“Before the immigration laws, a young boy whose mother couldn’t speak English, came with no money, worked very hard cleaning other people’s homes and would tell him, ‘God bless America,’ not because it was perfect but it was better than the place she fled. The son grew up in New York City, became one of the greatest songwriters. Irving Berlin wrote “God Bless America,” not as a militaristic, triumphant chant. He wrote it as a prayer. He wrote it understanding her dream, coming to this country without skills, language or money, for her son to grow up away from a land that hated Jews. God Bless America. We won’t give up. And remember to vote. Sing it, as a prayer.”
And the congregation sang.
Founded in 1973, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST) is a progressive synagogue that attracts and welcomes gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender, queer and straight, individuals and families who share common values. Hochul had participated in the opening of the building in 2016.
It doesn’t matter that Donald Trump and the NRA-toadies in the Congress had all skipped town ahead of the onslaught of an estimated 500,000 who joined the March for Our Lives in Washington DC calling for sane gun control. After Sandy Hook, Pulse Nightclub, Las Vegas, and the five school shootings that took place just since Parkland, the advocates for commonsense gun regulation are done trying to appeal and cajole lawmakers. The overriding theme of the event, called out in every interlude between the teen and t’ween speakers who so eloquently made the argument for banning assault weapons and high-capacity ammo clips and universal background checks was “VOTE THEM OUT.”
The call would come from down a mile-long stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue, and crescendo, until the buildings would shake.
Gun control advocates are done expecting tragedy to prompt action to protect public health and safety. They are done asking. They are demanding change – whether it be the policy or the politician.
“Either represent the people or get out … Stand for us or beware: The voters are coming,” was the manifesto from Parkland student Cameron Kasky to lawmakers. “To the leaders, skeptics and cynics who told us to sit down, stay silent and wait your turn: Welcome to the revolution.”
The NRA has succeeded, despite easily 90% of Americans who want sensible gun regulations – keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, the severely mentally ill, felons and terrorists, and want to keep weapons designed for war off city streets where 80 percent of Americans live – because they 1) buy politicians, but 2) because they manage to shepherd single-issue voters, fear-mongering the call for “sensible” gun regulation into “confiscate your guns” – and there are some 350 million of them in the hands of just 22% of the population (3% of gun owners own 50% of guns).
Now, the single-issue voters will be gun regulation. That will be the litmus test for support or opposition to a candidate. And that’s okay, because it seems that those who embrace sensible gun laws tend also to support climate action, women’s rights, justice, health care and education. They tend to support diplomacy over war. They see gun control as a public health issue – an epidemic of lethal violence that must be addressed – and so also favor the other issues that support health and quality of life, or in the words of the Founding Fathers quoted on the stage: “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
And there will be 3.9 million high school seniors who will be eligible to vote, if not in the 2018 midterms, buy the 2020 presidential.
An army of volunteers were out with forms to register new voters here and in the hundreds and hundreds of “sibling” rallies held across the country – more than 800 in all including those that took place globally. (Several nations have issued advisories against traveling to the United States because of gun violence.)
This was quite literally a March for Our Lives. More children have been killed by gun violence in the five years since Sandy Hook than soldiers have died in combat since 9/11, reported Newsweek. According to Everytown, on average, there are 13,000 gun-related homicides a year (another 20,000 suicides); for every one person killed by a gun, two more are injured; seven children and teens are killed with guns every day. In 2015, Politifact confirmed a statement by Nicholas Kristof that “”More Americans have died from guns in the United States since 1968 [1,516,863] than on battlefields of all the wars in American history [1,396,733].”
There have been 5 school shootings just since Parkland on February 14 – including the murder just two days before the March for Our Lives of 16-year old Jaelynn Willey at Great Mills High School in Maryland, at the hand of a 17-year old former boyfriend, wielding his parents’ semi-automatic handgun.
It wasn’t just Parkland or Sandy Hook and school shootings represented. The speakers were representative of the spectrum of gun violence that is epidemic in America and no where else in the world: gang violence that steals so many lives in urban center cities like Los Angeles and Chicago, that snuffs out the souls in church, concerts, movies, shopping malls; the victims of domestic violence and robbery. And assassination, as the remarks of Martin Luther King Jr.’s 9-year old granddaughter, Yolanda Renee King, recalled.
“My grandfather had a dream that his four little children will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” said Yolanda Renee King. “I have a dream that enough is enough,” she said. “And that this should be a gun-free world – period.”
Then there was 11-year old Naomi Wadler from Alexandria, Virginia, who led the walk-out from her school for 18 minutes – 17 to honor those killed in Parkland and 1 more for the girl who was murdered from her school. “I am here today to acknowledge and represent the African American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper. Whose stories don’t lead on the evening news. I represent the African American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls full of potential,” she said. “For far too long, these names, these black girls and women, have been just numbers. I’m here to say ‘Never Again’ for those girls, too.”
On average, gun violence kills 96 people each day, who don’t warrant media notice. American women are 16 times more likely to be shot to death than women in other developed countries; When a gun is present in a domestic violence situation, the woman is 5 times as likely to be murdered. But in states where a background check is required for every handgun sale, 47% fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners, according to EverytownResearch.org.
The speakers, an extraordinary array of the most extraordinary young people, described their trauma, their loss of siblings, parents, best friends, the constant anxiety they must now live with (187,000 school children today have been witness to gun attacks in their schools, according to a Washington Post study; an entire generation since the 1999 Columbine massacre lives with Live Fire drills just as the 1960s kids drilled for nuclear bomb attacks; 40% of Americans know someone who has been a victim of gun violence). They made their case with such clarity, poise, reason and most of all, authenticity, you had to contrast that with the absurdity and stupidity that is heard from many of the current electeds, like Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert.
When Emma Gonzalez, with her poignant, piercing 6 minutes and 20 seconds of silence that mimicked the time it took for the Parkland School Shooter to kill 17, injure 17 more with his AR-15 assault rifle and simply disappear amid the fleeing students, you had the feeling of seeing a future leader, much as those who heard Hillary Clinton’s Wellesley commencement speech. And so many more on that stage. And then there was Malala, in her taped message, who defied the terror attack on her by Taliban determined to prevent girls from attending school.
But more: you realized in a flash what was lost – to society, to civilization – the potential of what these young people could have been, their lives snuffed out by the dreck of our species. Did we lose a Steve Hawking, a Malala, an Obama, a Steve Jobs, a Bill Gates? And what of the hundreds of thousands who must live with life-altering injuries – what of the cost to society of their lost ability to fulfill their potential, of the cost of health care that might otherwise have been spent on education, professional training, investment in innovation? The high cost of trauma counselors after an event, of security officers, technology and construction to harden schools against gun violence (diverting scarce funds from computers and actual teaching), pales in comparison.
These Parkland survivor-leaders weren’t trying to appeal to politicians with reason or emotion, authenticity or compassion, as the Sandy Hook parents had futilely done. They are done with that.
The pacing of the production – mixing personal stories with PSA’s and data – even the NRA’s “greatest hits” – and top-notch entertainment that included Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt ; Miley Cyrus; Ariana Grande; Jennifer Hudson; Andra Day with Cardinal Shehan School Choir; Common with Andra Day; Demi Lovato; Vic Mensa and an astonishing performance by the Stoneman Douglas drama club with a student choir of the song they wrote, “Shine” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrZiB2jV7dw), was as fast and explosive as an AR-15 firing. The audience filled in the interlude with chants of “Vote Them Out” – except after Emma Gonzalez spoke, when the chant was “Vote Her In.”
They want to know why a minority of people get to threaten the vast majority of people.
Enough is Enough, the speakers declared. Never Again, was the reply back, perhaps more hopefully, given that there are still more than 200 days before the midterm elections, and 250 days before a new Congress is seated. How many more will die until then? If the law of averages continues, 96 a day, or upwards of 24,000 lives will be snuffed out in this gun violence epidemic, with thousands of more suffering life-altering injuries, that sap their ability to fulfill their god-given potential.
“We’re done hiding, being afraid,” Ryan Deitsch, a survivor of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, declared. “That’s not what our Founding Fathers envisioned when they wrote of ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ This is the beginning of the end. This is the fight for our lives.
“REV up America: Register to vote. Then educate. Then vote.”
About a million people attending more than 800 rallies across the country and around the world, were inspired to take action. And vote.
Here are more photo highlights of the March for Our Lives in Washington DC:
New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Rhode Island Enter into Agreement to Create Multi-State Database That Will Share Information on Firearms, Law Enforcement Efforts and Supplement Federal NICS Database
New Multi-State Coalition Will Trace and Intercept Firearms to Stop Flow of Out-of-State Guns
Nation’s First Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium Will Conduct Studies to Better Inform Policy Makers
New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo today announced the formation of the new “States for Gun Safety” coalition to combat gun violence. In the face of repeated federal inaction, the coalition will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding to better share information and tackle this devastating epidemic through a comprehensive, regional approach. The coalition will advance a multi-pronged effort that will create a multi-state database to supplement the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System, trace and intercept guns that are used in crimes as well as guns transported across state borders and launch the nation’s first Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium that will study the issue across multiple disciplines to better inform policy makers nationwide.
“Here in New York, we’re proud to be home to the nation’s strongest gun safety law. However, the federal government’s continued inaction on this issue has not only allowed the epidemic of gun violence to spread, but it has actually prevented the laws like the SAFE Act from being fully effective,” Governor Cuomo said.“Rather than wait for the federal government to come to its senses and pass responsible gun safety legislation, New York is joining with New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island to take matters into our own hands. Not only will this groundbreaking partnership take new steps to prevent illegal guns from crossing state lines, but by forming the nation’s first Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium, we will be able to better inform policymakers nationwide on how to keep their communities safe.”
“We refuse to allow federal inaction to enact commonsense, gun safety laws endanger the lives of our residents,” Governor Malloy said. “Despite the best efforts of powerful lobbyists from special interest groups, we will work together as a coalition of states to keep our communities safe. We cannot sit back and let guns get into the hands of those who shouldn’t have them, and we cannot simply watch almost daily tragedy occur. One thing remains clear: we would be better off if every state and the federal government enacted sensible gun safety rules. We will not wait for Washington to act – the time for action is now.”
“Gun violence is not a New Jersey problem, or a New York problem, or a problem for any particular state or region – it is a national problem,” Governor Murphy said.”However, we cannot wait for Congress to act. As states, we must work together to take the steps and enact the measures to protect our residents and our communities. But, even more importantly, a collective of states can take these steps together broaden the reach and impact of commonsense gun safety laws.”
“Rhode Island has some of the nation’s strongest gun laws, but our nation has some of the world’s weakest. Kids in Florida and across the nation are taking action, and it’s not a surprise: We’ve forced them to lead because for years elected officials in Washington have refused to,” Governor Raimondo said. “We will stand up with our students and with parents to strengthen our gun laws and combat gun violence.”
As part of the coalition, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Rhode Island will share information about individuals who are prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm within each state. By sharing this information, states can more effectively prevent certain individuals from purchasing a gun, obtaining a weapon and/or getting a gun permit. The agreement, in accordance with federal and state privacy protections, will provide state law enforcement agencies with details on the firearm purchase or permit denials for those who are disqualified. People may be disqualified from owning a firearm for several reasons, including an arrest warrant, order of protection, debilitating mental health condition, or criminal history.
Despite the passage of gun safety laws restricting the purchase and carry of firearms across the four states, the lack of federal regulations preventing individuals from purchasing guns in other states and transporting them across borders has undermined state legislation. To combat this practice, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Rhode Island will direct their law enforcement intelligence centers to work cooperatively to trace the use of out-of-state guns in crimes and share information in order to intercept criminals transporting illegal guns across state borders. The four state fusion centers that will jointly share information under this agreement are the New York State Intelligence Center, the Connecticut Intelligence Center, New Jersey Regional Operations Intelligence Center, and the Rhode Island State Fusion Center.
The four states will also designate institutions of higher education to partner and create the nation’s first Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium. The consortium will be comprised of dedicated public health, social welfare, public policy, and criminal justice experts who will share and examine data to better inform policymakers nationwide. This groundbreaking consortium will fill the void left by the federal government’s 1996 ban on the use of federal funds to study gun violence which has obstructed research efforts across the nation, including at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.
“We have to remember that the federal government has had a provision in place now for over 20 years that effective bars the Center for Disease Control and Prevention from studying gun violence. So it has devolved to the states, now for over 20 years and our thought is perhaps if we can do it in a coordinated way, the more of us at it, hopefully the better result and meaningfully propelling things like smart gun technology,” Governor Murphy of New Jersey said during a telephone press availability with al four governors.
“We can’t wait for the federal government to act. We have states with good intentions, with good laws, let’s take it to the next level. Let’s work across our borders. Let’s not just advocate for better laws in our own state, but advocate for better laws in our region. Let’s not just try to make our own borders as safe as possible. Let’s try to make our region as safe as possible.” We’ll reach out to other governors,” Governor Malloy of Connecticut said.
Building on these efforts, the states will also work to push the federal government to adopt common-sense gun safety measures. In order to protect families and communities across the region, the group will call on the federal government to swiftly enact universal background checks, an assault weapons ban and a federal waiting period between the purchase and delivery of guns.
The multi-state coalition builds on years of progress spearheaded by Governor Cuomo to combat gun violence in New York. Following the tragedy at Sandy Hook, Democrats and Republicans came together in New York to pass the nation’s strongest gun safety law in 2013. The New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013, more commonly known as the NY SAFE Act, banned the sale of assault weapons and high capacity magazines and helps keep guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill, all the while safeguarding the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners.
In addition to the SAFE Act, New York has continued to invest in the SNUG and GIVE initiatives which engage with community members to help get guns off the street. Under SNUG, specially trained individuals are employed to reduce violence from occurring when tensions arise within their community, while also connecting high-risk individuals with essential social and support services. The GIVE initiative provides funding to support technical assistance, training, equipment, and personnel – such as prosecutors and crime analysts – to help communities reduce gun violence and save lives. The funding for both initiatives is administered by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services.
Most recently, Governor Cuomo proposed new legislation as part of the 2018 State of the State which will remove all firearms from those who commit domestic violence crimes. Given the inextricable link between domestic violence and lethal gun violence, this legislation will require all firearms be removed from those convicted of domestic violence crimes, including misdemeanors. It will also add measures to keep firearms out of the hands of those who commit domestic violence with the goal of preventing additional tragedies.
“We’re not waiting for federal action,” said Governor Cuomo of New York, a former Attorney General who laid out an indictment against the Trump Administration and the Republican-controlled Congress over its measures that not only don’t mitigate against gun violence, but go backwards. “All of our states are already ahead of the federal government when it comes to laws on this issue. The Florida Parkland massacre, one would hope that it would spur responsible federal action but we’re not going to hold our breath and were not going to risk our children’s lives. Sandy hook happened, I remember speaking with Governor Malloy at the time, and since then 1600 people have died. After Sandy Hook was when New York passed the SAFE Act because people were so outraged and change comes when people demand change. After Sandy Hook, especially in this region of the country, people demanded change. Columbine 1999, since then there have been 200 school shootings, 25 mass school shootings, so no I’m not especially optimistic that the federal government will be a response.
“Let’s be honest, this a federal government has gone backward on the issue. President Trump has pledged allegiance to the NRA and he’s delivered for them. He defunded, in part, the NICS background check system, he stopped last February the Social Security Administration from providing information that the Obama administration put into place that would have given more information on mental health for the NICS system and the solution here is not rocket science. In many ways it’s harder because it takes political courage and this is not just about the NRA, this is a politically charged issue and I think we understate the opposition when we say it’s just the NRA. To be responsible on this issue you have to pay a political cost.
“Governors on the phone all understand that. I have the political scars from what we did and that’s why it really is a test of leadership and I think right now you have the high school students showing more leadership than the leaders in Washington. What they said on TV was it shouldn’t be a democratic or republican issue, it’s an issue in life and death and they’re right.
“Your Florida elected officials showed up at the town hall like Senator Marco Rubio, who I think should be ashamed of themselves because he had nothing responsible to say and rather than proposing baby steps, which is the worst type of political pandering, he should have at least been honest and say we have nothing meaningful to propose on this issue. At least that would have been honest.
“To say this is a mental health issue is a sham and a fraud because if you really believed it was a mental health issue, then you have to say, the way to combat mental health is we will have s universal background check system to make sure a person who is mentally ill cannot buy a gun. We’re going to have a NICS system that has a comprehensive mental health database that is in the federal NICS system. You will then have to have a federal reporting system where people could actually report people to police, people who they believe has a mental health problem. Teachers would have to be able to call police, family members would have to be able to call the police and say investigate this person because I think they are mentally ill and they shouldn’t have a gun and they still have to answer why you wouldn’t support an assault ban. 1934, this nation outlawed machine guns because the nation said the risk outweighs the reward. The damage that can be done with a machine gun outweighs the individual’s right to own it. That is an assault rifle today. It’s doable, it’s feasible, we did it in this country. It’s just that we’ve gone backwards,” Cuomo said during the press call.
“The answer is not to make the schools armed camps. That’s where they’re going to go in Washington. Why? Because that’s where the NRA wants them to go. Because it means selling more guns. And the NRA is in the business of selling guns. Arm every teacher. Oh that makes sense. The only thing it would do is bring more guns into a school, more money for gun manufacturers, which is what the NRA is really trying to say…
“Today, we take the next step in the evolution of state action. We are limited by our borders so we can put in laws but then our borders are porous. Governor Malloy spoke about the I-95 corridor. That guns literally come up the I-95 corridor. Share your databases and your information so if a person can’t buy a gun in New York, they don’t drive to Connecticut or New Jersey or Rhode Island and buy the gun. Come up with a coalition of state actions. And then share that information. And that’s what we’re going to be doing. We have a mental health database in New York that now exists that didn’t exist before the SAFE Act that has 77,000 people who are on the database who are mentally ill who could have bought a gun in this state the day before the SAFE Act. Share that information.
“On Governor Murphy’s point about research, I was HUD Secretary in the Clinton Administration. At that time, the manufacturers said they could manufacture a smart gun. They could manufacturer a gun where the trigger read a finger print. We’ve done absolutely nothing on the research and the technology because they haven’t been forced to do it.
“So do what you can and that’s what we’re doing. This is not a substitute for federal action. And we hope and we will push for federal action. I would like to see the national democrats put a real sensible gun control bill on the table so that people have a real choice and we have a real debate because this is not about baby steps, this is not about bump stocks and moving the age from 18-21. Those are just political crumbs to throw forward to end the political discomfort for some of the elected officials. Let’s do something real and let’s make a difference. This has been handled by countries across the globe. We can handle it if we want to. If we have the political courage and the political will to do it. It’s that simple. But it’s that difficult.”
You would think after the unimaginable carnage at a country music concert in Las Vegas, that would have been enough, at least to ban bump stocks which Republicans signaled they were receptive to. Then nothing. Well not really nothing: instead of banning bump stocks, Congressional Republicans adopted Conceal Carry Reciprocity, which would essentially negate every state’s gun control regulations (so much for sacred State’s Rights). Imagine someone whipping out a concealed semi-automatic handgun in the rush hour crowd at Penn Station. Even with the heavily armed national guardsmen who patrol, 50 could be dead in the spate of seconds before anyone even realized what was happening. Now imagine another 10 people whipping out their concealed carry guns and firing in all directions.
You would think after an ex-Air Force gunman, court-martialed for domestic violence, killed 26 people at a smalltown Texas church, there would have been legislation to beef up background checks, which the vast majority of Americans, including NRA members and Republicans support. Dream on.
You would think that after Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Congress would have reauthorized the assault weapons ban that George W. Bush allowed to expire in 2006, or enacted universal background checks. Or, given that Republicans and the NRA always fall-back to mental illness, not the easy access and availability of semi-automatic high-capacity guns as the cause of massive carnage, to stiffen restrictions against those with mental illness, including veterans with PTSD, to acquire guns. Oh yes, Obama actually did that, only to have Donald Trump and Senator Charles Grassley (who ironically reflexively called for more controls to prevent mentally ill from acquiring guns), to rescind the regulation. Or after the San Bernardino terror shooting, Congress would have adopted the “No Fly, No Buy” rule. Or after Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot, would have limited the capacity of ammo clips.
An ongoing Washington Post analysis has found that more than 150,000 students attending at least 170 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. After each, there is a spurt of “thoughts and prayers” and then nothing.
Seventeen school shootings, 34 mass shootings, 2008 deaths from gun violence. That’s just the body count for the first 7 weeks of 2018.
As a New York Times editorial noted, “The journal Pediatrics reported last June that gunfire, each week, kills an average of 25 children ages 17 and under. A 2016 study in The American Journal of Medicine calculated that among two dozen of the world’s wealthiest nations, this country alone accounted for 91 percent of firearms deaths among children 14 and under.
Instead, the only “solution” Congress seems to be interested in is mandating Conceal Carry Reciprocity nationwide, to “harden” schools and allow (even require) teachers to carry guns, effectively deputizing them as soldiers in this war-of-choice. (If that is the case, teachers should get battlefield pay.) The only response has been to do the NRA’s bidding: more guns.
But now, perhaps after this latest school shooting, something is different. Because the survivors are 17 and 18 year olds – a cohort of 3.9 million – who will be eligible to vote in the 2020 presidential election if not the 2018 midterms. They know how to marshal the power of social media and organize an ongoing campaign; they are articulate, passionate, and have the energy to keep this going. And they are still idealistic enough to think they can actually force politicians to do their will, naively unaware or underestimating the political perils.
It is reminiscent, in fact, of the anti-Vietnam youth movement of the 1960s. By the time it ended, 58,200 Americans had lost their lives in a decade of fighting a war predicated on politically expedient lies.
But this is war on the homefront. This is a public health scourge in our neighborhoods: guns kill 33,000 Americans a year, the equivalent of a 9/11 each month and injure another 100,000 each year whose lives, like the 14 injured Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. will be forever altered – sports scholarships lost, college savings lost, career track altered. Since Sept. 11, 2001, 95 Americans have been murdered on US soil by terrorists (every one an American citizen or legal resident), but in that same timeframe, guns killed 561,000.
Will this stab at activism be different?
My question is how soon will they become frustrated and beat down by the political song-and-dance? Or will they be snuckered by promises, as hollow as the bullets that the NRA defends that can pierce police protective vests?
Indeed, after traveling by bus for six hours to plead their case at the State House in Tallahassee, 100 of the Parkland students were promptly shut down by a swift 2 to 1 vote to table any discussion of banning assault weapons.
Trump, who made a show of visiting two victims in the hospital and praising first responders (not heroic teachers who now as part of their duties have to make themselves human shields, like the three murdered in Parkland), said he might “consider” a bipartisan bill improving background checks, a statement so remarkable, it warranted front-page headlines.
He is talking about the Cronyn bill, which came out of the Texas massacre, but it only requires the military to do what they were legally supposed to have done: notifying the federal database of military who committed domestic violence and shouldn’t be able to buy a gun anyway. He made a show of ordering the Department of Justice to “examine” the possibility of new regulations banning bump stocks or any device that turns a semi-automatic weapon into a machine gun. But automatic weapons are already illegal for civilian use. And heaven knows how long it will take Attorney General Jeff Sessions to come up with such regulations. Meantime, Congress is off the hook from actually doing anything that resembles even a modest stab at gun control. No slippery slope there.
And even in his phrasing, “I will be open to a bipartisan bill” to improve background checks sounds like the same bullshit he used when he betrayed Dreamers.
The reality behind his bullshit is that Trump’s budget would cut 19% from funding for background checks, and thanks to George W Bush’s Attorney General John Ashcroft, background checks have to be completed within just three days, and the records destroyed (that’s how the Charleston massacre was able to get his gun).
Over and over, Trump has pledged his fealty to the NRA, which apart and in concert with the Russians, did more to send him to the Oval Office than anyone or anything – $30 million in spending, split between pro-Trump and anti-Clinton campaigns. And even now, it compromises the bulk of his precious, unshakeable “base.”
In his State of the Union, he said, “My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans, to protect their safety, their families, their communities,” which sounded as if he might finally call for action to restrain the scourge of gun violence, especially after the two most monstrous massacres in history. Instead, his next line was, “We are totally defending our Second Amendment…”
The reality is, it is easier to buy an assault rifle than buy alcohol or access reproductive health care or register to vote; it is easier to get a gun license than a drivers license, to get a gun than register a car; there are more gun stores than grocery stores, McDonalds and Starbucks combined.
Young people, don’t be played! Here’s what should constitute gun reform:
Restore the ban on assault weapons; limit the capacity of ammunition clips; ban bump stocks.
Require universal background checks including gun shows and private sales and online sales; remove the artificial limit in time for the check to be completed or increase the waiting period beyond 3 day.
Require training and licensing and a national database of gun registration; and renewal program for license and registration (just as for a car).
Bar felons, domestic abusers, those diagnosed mentally ill, anyone under the age of 21 from buying a gun, and those on a terror watch list (“No Fly, No Buy”)
Tax purchases of guns and ammunition, the money going into a victims fund to pay compensation to survivors and for health care.
Require gun owners to take out liability insurance, just as automobile insurance.
Overturn Stand Your Ground laws; defeat Conceal Carry Reciprocity.
Make parents responsible for safe storage of guns; liable and subject to manslaughter prosecution if their children use guns to kill.
Treat gun violence as public health epidemic; end gag order on CDC to research gun violence and recommend protections.
Emma Gonzalez, one of the Parkland school survivors, properly called out the “bullshit.”
“The people in the government who were voted into power are lying to us. And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and our parents to call BS,” she said in an impassioned and on-target speech. “Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this, we call BS.
“They say tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS. They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS. That us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works. We call BS.
“If you agree, register to vote. Contact your local congresspeople. Give them a piece of your mind.”(Crowd chants) “Throw them out.” (Listen to her powerful speech)
Ironically, this new student movement may have a dreaded “unintended consequence” for Republicans: if the NRA lackeys are swept out of office in favor of politicians who enact true gun reform, that might also result in campaign finance reform, overturning Citizens United and requiring Disclosure of who is supplying money, finally breaking the shackles the NRA (which may well have funneled Russian money in the $55 million it spent in the 2016 campaign, including $30 million spent to elect Trump) has on lawmakers.
That would be killing two birds with one stone, not an AR15.
Donald Trump loves all things “biggest”. Like the charge he gets over the United States being hit by the biggest climate catastrophes in history, Trump probably took a measure of delight at the “biggest” mass murder in US history – at this writing 59 dead and 527 injured in just a few minutes at the hands of a 64-year old white male spraying bullets with a military-grade assault rifle from 32nd floor of the Mandalay Hotel on an open-air folk-music concert attended by 22,000. Like shooting fish in a barrel.
In fact, there have already been 521 mass shootings in the 477 days since the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando, the last record holder, drawing no remark from Trump. But this one is one for the record books.
Trump, predictably, evoked prayer and called for flying “our great flag” at half-staff. He calls for “unity” because it means mindlessly following authority. “God lives in the hearts of those who grieve.” Sure, that will salve the loss of loved ones. And to the wounded, numbering more than 500? “I pledge to you our support from this day forward.” What does that mean, exactly, when he is doing his best to take away health care from tens of millions, when any concept of health care he advocates would remove mental illness from the list of required conditions covered under Obamacare? Who pays for the multiple surgeries and rehabilitation to save and restore victims’ lives?
Imagine the tone he would have taken if the murderer was Muslim or a terrorist or a foreigner.
Trump will do his best to deflect from this tragedy, say “this is not the time” to consider sensible gun restrictions. He will call for greater security (police state), shift responsibility onto the hotel, say that 33,000 deaths a year is the “price of freedom” and move on to tax so-called “reform” aimed at furthering the redistribution of wealth to the already ridiculously wealthy and politically powerful like the NRA. Trump, the Republicans and the NRA would have us be soldiers and martyrs, terrorized and dying on the altar of gun rights. In the same way as he never criticizes Putin, Trump will never go against the NRA.
Will he be a leader and call for sensible gun violence prevention measures that are supported by 80% of Americans including overwhelming majorities of gun-owners and NRA members, like universal background checks? Of course not. Trump has already overturned Obama orders desperate to stem gun violence, including barring people who are deemed “mentally incapacitated” from buying a gun.
Instead, the Gun Lobby – the NRA and its gun manufacturer masters – knowing they have an dufus ally in the White House and a complicit Republican majority in Congress (even after Congressman Scalise was shot and his Republican compatriots at baseball practice fired on), are pushing to ease what little gun regulations there are, for example, opening up the floodgates to the use of silencers so that innocents can be even easier prey and police would have an even harder time locating a perpetrator. In 4 minutes, 1600 rounds fired, dozens die, hundreds face lifelong injury (and how are injuries and recovery paid for with the dismantling of health care?).
The gun lobby now is enthusiastically pushing for “Concealed Carry Reciprocity,”which would overrule any state’s gun restrictions to the weakest states laws. New York State’s tough restrictions would be nullified.
There is so much that could be done and should be done if Congress really cared to stem terrorism and tragedy and promote public health and safety: universal background checks, restoring the ban on assault weapons and mega-ammo magazines; requiring gun holders to register (after all, you have to register to vote) and universal background checks; regulating online sales and ending the gun-show loophole, banning people on the Terror Watch List from buying guns, ending Stand Your Ground. And easing access to mental health care. And while you are removing the ban suppressing pediatricians Hippocratic oath and freedom of speech to counsel parents to lock away their guns; overturning the Dickey Amendment to allow research on gun safety; requiring federal dollars for military and police weaponry be “smart guns” (like smart phones) to turn the industry around.
You can never know who will become a murderer – how often do you hear people say, “Who would have believed”, “He was such a nice man”.
But there is one common denominator for all these tragedies: the ease with which individuals can obtain weapons of mass destruction. ISIS has already invited would-be terrorists to take advantage of lax gun laws. You can’t stop every act of terror – but it is plainly clear that incidents that involve other weapons like knives and machetes and even cars, do not have the same lethal success of assault weapons.
“Accessibility to weapons is the greatest national security threat in the US,” a security adviser tells NPR, and Nevada has some of the loosest gun laws in the US. Combine that with what we like to call a “free society.” A lone wolf is the worst nightmare of law enforcement because they are impossible to track or detect.”
The Bill of Rights does not allow for any restriction on guns? Nonsense: read the full 2nd Amendment, not just the “shall not be infringed” part and you will see that it is the ONLY amendment that has qualifications and limitations built in: “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state….” If you would be an “originalist” taking the 2ndamendment literally, you would restrict gun ownership to people who are in the National Guard or military or police – those who provide for the “security of a free state” and the “common defense” – there is nothing about an individual’s unlimited right to have a gun. And if you would be a true ideological, fundamentalist “originalist” you would restrict a gun to a single-ball musket, which was the most advanced technology of the time, a time when people had to hunt their food and protect themselves from Indians and in the absence of a standing army, settlers had to defend against an invading force.
On the other hand, the Constitution provides for a government “by the people, for the people” and for voting, and the Trumpists have no problem whatsoever imposing such onerous voter registration procedures and election site restrictions that become obstacles to the right to vote. Isn’t that interesting: it’s okay to require voter registration but not gun registration. In fact, in Texas, a gun permit is acceptable ID for voting, but a college student ID is not.
You can never know who will become a murderer (how often do you hear people say, “Who would have believed”, “he was such a nice man”) – as is the case of the Las Vegas shooter, who did not seem to conform with any of the usual attributes of a mass murderer (white male, 64 years old, no political or religious agenda, well-off, in a relationship, no history of mental illness). But there is a common denominator for all these tragedies – Tucson, Orlando, San Bernardino, Columbine, Virginia Tech – the ease with which individuals can obtain weapons of mass destruction. You can’t stop every act of terror – but it is plainly clear that incidents that involve other weapons – knives, machetes – do not have the same lethal success of assault weapons.
Consider how much of our GDP goes to security in order to protect the “freedom” of gun owners but take away the security, freedom, and the very lives of everyone else . Just look at the money we spend to safeguard our schools that could otherwise go to actually teaching. Now hotels, amusement parks, churches, shopping malls, and concert venues will also have to allocate their operating budgets. Think of the rights we allow to be trampled in order leave unrestrained the 2nd amendment: 1st amendment rights of free speech and assembly and 4th amendment right against unreasonable search and privacy. Would that they value voting rights as highly.
But as Senator Bernie Sanders reminded us, there have been more mass shootings this year than days of the year, this is just the most sensational.
“..it should be clear to all that we have got to do everything we can to stop guns from falling into the hands of people who should not have them. It is long past time for Congress to take action on gun safety to save innocent lives.”
Rebecca Fischer, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, stated, “Easy access to guns–particularly weapons designed to kill many people rapidly–repeatedly leads to tragedy and loss of life. Rather than ‘thoughts and prayers’ from our elected officials, we need action to address this public health epidemic.”
Jim Dean, chair of Democracy For America, put it more bluntly:
“How is Congress responding to last night’s terror attack in Las Vegas? By getting ready to pass a bill to make it easier to buy silencers — a top priority for the NRA.
“Republican elected officials offer their thoughts and prayers. They lower flags to half-staff. But they will never act to stop gun violence and mass shootings, because they’re in league with the NRA.
“The NRA is unrepentant. They and their allies in Congress don’t think there’s anything wrong with what happened in Las Vegas last night. In fact, they are doubling down in support of laws that enable white men like Stephen Paddock to use guns to terrorize their families and communities.
“Congress has caved to the NRA after every mass shooting this decade, from Sandy Hook to San Bernardino, from Umpqua Community College in Oregon to the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and so many more. They will keep doing so until we defeat them at the ballot box.
“The NRA and their Republican allies are not just promoting gun violence — they are promoting white supremacy and toxic masculinity.
“They refuse to acknowledge that these mass shooters are terrorists, because the people doing the shooting are mostly white men. When it’s a person of color, however, they’re quick to call them terrorists.
“The NRA’s primary agenda is to promote a culture of gun ownership among white men — often by demonizing people of color as threats. The NRA vehemently defends “stand your ground” laws that were used to let the man who killed Trayvon Martin off the hook.
“The NRA also openly enables violence against women, including by their past opposition to legislation to keep guns out of the hands of men who have threatened or committed domestic violence. Many mass shooters have a history of violent threats and acts against women. It’s part of the ‘profile’ of these shooters now.”
Gabby Giffords, who was an Arizona Congresswoman until she was shot in the head by a mass murderer only stopped when one of his guns jammed, and now heads Americans for Responsible Solutions, wrote: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this shooting, their families, and their friends. But the truth is, for those who have the power to act and to save lives, thoughts and prayers are not nearly enough.
“So today, I am praying for my former colleagues as well — that they find the courage to make progress on the issue of gun violence in America…
“Some will say that now is not the time to have this conversation, but the truth is that we cannot wait. Congress cannot delay. Now is exactly the right time to take positive action that will keep our our communities safer. The nation is counting on them.
“I also know enough from my time in Congress that action is only possible if people make their voices heard. So today, especially today, I want to ask you to do just that — to demand action from our elected leaders. Action that will save lives:
““Tell Congress: ENOUGH is ENOUGH. Pass legislation to make our communities safer from gun violence. To do nothing is not acceptable. Now is the time for action.”
“We watch, time and time again, as people describe these mass shootings as unimaginable acts of evil, but the sad fact is that this is not true. There is no other advanced nation in the world where these kinds of mass shootings happen with this kind of frequency.
“The only thing that is unimaginable is the continuous legislative inaction on this issue.
“Hopefully this time will be different, but I know that’s only possible if all of us are willing to act.”
Trump, who has already proved himself incompetent as a leader and who condones police brutality and torture and tells rallies, “Your 2nd Amendment is safe with me,” will do nothing beyond tweet his prayers and attack his critics.
Yes, this is one for the history books. The question is will it be surpassed? Thanks to the utter lack of sensible gun violence prevention, it is all too easy to do so.
In Trump’s absurd “law and order” speech delivered to Suffolk County, Long Island, police officers, he made a side reference, after noting how horrible violence is that takes our sons and daughters, even husbands and wives, that he and he alone has saved the Second Amendment.
“But we’re just getting started,” Trump said. “We will restore law and order on Long Island. We’ll bring back justice to the United States. I’m very happy to have gotten a great, great Justice of the United States Supreme Court, not only nominated, but approved. And, by the way, your Second Amendment is safe. (Applause.) Your Second Amendment is safe. I feel very good about that. It wasn’t looking so good for the Second Amendment, was it, huh? If Trump doesn’t win, your Second Amendment is gone. Your Second Amendment would be gone.”
An interesting remark considering that New York State has one of the most restrictive gun control laws in the nation, which can explain why Long Island and New York City have some of the lowest rates of gun violence for their size in the country.
Now, an upstate New York Congressman, Chris Collins (who didn’t do enough damage with his Repeal & Replace Obamacare amendment that was written solely to hurt New York State), is proposing a federal bill to preempt state and local gun laws.
“Concealed Carry Reciprocity,” would allow more people who have never passed a background check or fired a gun in their lives to carry hidden, loaded firearms in public crowds as soon as they buy them. While nearly every state requires people to qualify for a permit to carry loaded, concealed weapons in public, some states have strong permit requirements, others have very lax restrictions or none at all.
What this bill would do is say that if you have a permit from ANY state in the country, ALL states must recognize it, which means the weakest state laws will effectively become nationwide laws, as all states will be forced to accept them.
So much for the 10th Amendment crowd who purport to want states rights (including the rights of states to ignore Affordable Care Act mandates), and who have said time and time again that government works best that is most local to the people. Except when it comes to women’s reproductive rights, environmental protection, climate action, and gun control.
New Yorkers Against Gun Violence has come out strongly condemning H.R. 3576, a federal bill introduced by Congressman Chris Collins (R-NY 27) that would preempt state and local gun safety laws regulating rifles and shotguns, including background check requirements on the transfer of these guns.
The bill would pose a danger to New Yorkers by overriding the common sense gun laws enacted by state and local governments. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has also condemned this federal proposal and expressed strong support for New York State’s gun safety laws.
“Representative Collins’ dangerous proposal is a drastic, politically-driven attempt to override state and local laws that reasonably regulate the sale and transfer of shotguns and rifles, including assault weapons and high capacity magazines,” said Rebecca Fischer, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.
“This extreme federal legislation would even gut applicable background check requirements and allow felons, domestic abusers, and others who are a danger to themselves or others to easily access such guns. New York has the third lowest gun death rate in the nation and our common sense gun laws have prevented gun deaths and injuries across our state. We condemn this unconscionable, gun lobby-backed bill that undermines states’ rights and threatens the lives and well-being of families and communities in New York and across the country,” she added.
“It is interesting that Congressman Collins holds himself out as having conservative values and yet he is pushing a bill that would challenge the rights of states and localities to set policy regarding gun sales,” said Gary Pudup, NYAGV’s Western New York Coordinator. “This extreme federal bill is both vague and overly broad and could easily be challenged as unconstitutional. As a gun owner and retired police officer myself, I also find it incomprehensible that any reasonable, law-abiding gun owner would be in favor of eliminating background checks on the sale of rifles and shotguns,” he added.
“In 2013, following the Sandy Hook tragedy, New York State rose to the occasion and passed the toughest gun safety laws in the nation,” stated New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo. “Democrats and Republicans came together to ban assault weapons from coming into the state, ban high capacity magazines and keep guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill, while safeguarding the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners.
“Now, in a blatant political ploy, Chris Collins is turning his back on New Yorkers and putting millions of people at profound risk. By fighting to roll back vital legislation that protects the people of the Empire State, Collins is demonstrating once again that he is beholden to no one but the gun lobby and entrenched special interests.
“This disturbing bill puts New Yorkers in harm’s way – and to make it worse, there is no basis for it. None. The courts have resoundingly upheld New York’s law as consistent with the Constitution. We understand that Washington is in turmoil right now – we just ask that they don’t do anything to set back the progress we’ve been able to make despite them.”