New report gives closer look at keeping communities safe from gun violence


by Brian Washington

One year after the deadly shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, a new report is helping Americans cut through all the misleading claims surrounding the gun safety debate and raising solutions for keeping guns away from dangerous people.

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The Center for American Progress has just released a report examining six key claims related to background checks—a topic that was at the center of the gun safety debate on Capitol Hill earlier this year. The report, entitled, “The Gun Debate 1 Year After Newtown: Assessing Six Key Claims about Background Checks” looks at some of the primary assertions made during the debate including:

  • 40 percent of gun sales occur without a background check;
  • Few criminals visit gun shows to acquire guns illegally;
  • Universal background checks will not work because criminals will not submit to them;
  • Efforts to prevent gun violence should focus on straw purchasing from gun dealers, not gun transfers among unlicensed buyers and sellers;
  • We should not enact new laws on background checks until the federal government starts prosecuting violations of the current laws; and
  • Universal background checks would harm gun dealers.

“In order to move the dial on preventing gun violence we need to help the American public move beyond misleading talking points and misunderstood statistics,” said Chelsea Parson, co-author of the report.

In all the heated rhetoric surrounding the debate this past year, much of the substance about the critical role background checks play in keeping guns out of dangerous hands has been lost.

The report also makes recommendations about how the nation can keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them. The recommendations include:

  • Prohibiting all dangerous people from owning guns;
  • Imposing strong penalties for violating gun laws.
  • Ensuring that all relevant records are submitted to NICS; and
  • Requiring background checks for all gun sales.

Educators across the nation supported the push for background checks for gun purchases. In fact, the National Education Association, which represents close to 3 million teachers, education support professionals, and higher education faculty nationwide, strongly supported the effort to pass legislation requiring background checks as part of a larger gun violence prevention drive.

Around this time last year, the entire nation was mourning the 26 children and educators who lost their lives at the hands of a lone gunman, Adam Lanza, who walked into the Sandy Hook Elementary school and opened fire on those inside.

Family members of some of the victims have turned their grief into advocacy efforts designed to find answers as to why this tragedy happened while others have worked to get tougher gun safety measures passed. In regards to the latter, little has been done at the nation level, where members of Congress, fearful of the heads of the powerful gun lobby, failed to make any significant progress in passing new laws—even though national polls show the public wants lawmakers to pass tougher legislation curbing gun violence. However, earlier this month, Congress managed to pull off a minor victory—approving an extension of a 25-year-old gun safety law regarding plastic or undetectable firearms.

Meanwhile, former Congresswoman and gun violence survivor Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly have announced that their political action committee will play an active role in both House and Senate races in 2014—in an effort to get more pro-gun safety candidates elected to office.

“It doesn’t have to be a sea change,” said Kelly, a retired astronaut to a national reporter. “We just have to start getting members of Congress to think about their next election differently and know that there is an organization that will support them if there’s a lot of money being spent against them on this issue.”

Sign the petition to keep gun violence out of our communities and schools, click here.


Reader Comments

  1. You people have got to be as weak minded as those who elected our current administration. I just cannot, and will not agree with you. I’m not saying that guns have never been used to kill anyone, nor will they never, not be used in the same manner again sooner or later. It’s sad and shame’full, but IT’S NOT THE FREAKING GUNS FAULT!!!. You’re wanting rights of suppose to be free men and women taken away, for the sake of not being able to admit the truth and say a lot of the problem, started in somebodies mirror! In order to take care of a lot of problems, you need to teach at home!! As kids get older,, you TEACH MORE!! When some run rampant, Gods been taken out schools as well, WOW,,, for a vote???? YES, YOU KNOW IT, AND I KNOW IT!! Man has for the most part been taken out of the home,, WOW!, FOR A VOTE,, YES!! Now, YOU ARE WANTING YOU’RE FREE RIGHTS TAKEN AWAY FROM YOU??? How ignorant can people possibly get? You want the working to pay for somebody else’s laziness already, and now want their freedom, and including your own, to be taken away? If you wantta think about the kids,,,, THINK ABOUT THEIR FUTURE BEING A FREE PEOPLE, AND QUIT PETTING THE LAZY, AND SOMETHING MIGHT IN TIME COME, COME FROM THAT!!! IT’S CALLED RESONSIBILITY! And usually following responsibility, comes good JUDGEMENT!!! Think about that for a while!!!

  2. until the problem of gun violence is isolated to the inter city your not going to get anything through congress! country folks don’t really have a problem with guns! it should be set up like dodge city!!!

  3. Friends,
    The guns that were used in Sandy Hook were NOT owned by the young man who used them. In fact, they were owned by his mother, who had legally acquired them, and would have been allowed to buy them under all the background check laws currently on the books or proposed. The fact that he killed his own mother and stole her guns doesn’t seem to have sunk in to the parents and other concerned citizens. The same situation, or similar, surrounds a large number of the mass killings, where either the killer illegally acquired the weapons, or else passed the mandated background checks.
    By far and away the biggest part of our gun violence today is committed with stolen weapons that have gone through several black market dealers between the original theft and the commission of the first crime using that weapon.
    There are enough gun control laws on the books, and laws concerning how someone using a gun to commit a crime should be punished, but many of those laws are NOT being enforced. There ARE mandatory minimum sentences for using a firearm in the commission of nearly any kind of crime, but very seldom are these even a part of the discussion or sentencing. Only if someone leans on the prosecutor to push for the enhanced sentencing is it brought up before the court.
    While you are looking, perhaps you should check the records of the states with the toughest gun control laws and compare them to the records of the states with the laxest laws. It is generally the states with the least restrictive laws that has the least gun violence.
    Thank you for your time,
    Chester Payne

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