Thursday, March 20, 2008

Should You Become President What Will You Do To Combat Illegal Guns and Gun Trafficking?

Our communities are suffering from a plague of illegal guns. Every day in America gun traffickers take advantage of weak state and federal laws. As a result, people in our neighborhoods are being shot and killed or wounded, people are being robbed, threatened and intimidated with these illegal guns.

A question for Senators Clinton, McCain and Obama: “Should you become President, in addition to enforcing current laws, what steps would you take to combat this enormous problem of gun trafficking and illegal guns?”

Guns start out being legally manufactured and legally sold to licensed firearms dealers. From there, guns move from the legal to the illegal market through a variety of predictable, and preventable, avenues.

* Studies show that 1 percent of gun dealers sell 57 percent of gun crimes. These rogue gun dealers have a vastly disproportionate impact on public safety. The ATF can recognize such dealers based on: (1) guns stolen from inventory; (2) missing federal sales records, needed by police to solve crimes; (3) having 10 weapons a year traced to crimes; (4) frequently selling multiple guns to individual buyers; and (5) short times between gun sales and their involvement in crimes. Yet ATF enforcement capabilities are constantly being weakened, not strengthened, by Congress.

* Straw purchases and multiple gun sales are a large source of illegal guns. A straw purchase is when someone who is not eligible to buy a gun has another person buy one for them. Multiple sales (someone who is purchasing 10, 20, 50 guns a month) are often a sign of illegal gun trafficking. A few states have adopted laws that restrict handgun sales to one handgun a month.

* Stolen guns are also a large source of illegal guns. Guns are stolen from homes and from cars. And sometimes, when police trace guns back to an owner, “the gun was stolen” is used as a simple excuse to cover up an illegal sale. This is why more states are pushing for laws that would require lost and stolen guns be reported to police within 24 hours.

* Private gun sales, where there is no background check run, no records kept, and no questions asked, help fuel the illegal gun market. It is estimated that only 60% of firearms are sold through licensed dealers – meaning that 40% of guns can be legally sold without background checks. This is a system open to abuse. Everyday at gun shows, in newspaper ads, over kitchen tables, guns are sold in private sales to felons, juveniles, domestic abusers, and other prohibited people (including those with serious mental illness) with no background check run, no records kept and no questions asked.

So, the question to the presidential candidates is: “Should you become President, in addition to enforcing current laws, what steps would you take to combat this enormous problem of gun trafficking and illegal guns?”

Monday, March 17, 2008

District of Columbia V. Heller case to be heard this week

This week, for the first time in 70 years, the Supreme Court will hear a case involving the 2nd Amendment. They will be asked to decide if the right to keep and bear Arms is an individual right or a right that is reserved for the well regulated Militia. The case, the District of Columbia v. Heller, centers around D.C. guns laws, but the ruling has potentially far reaching consequences.

New England Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence is part an amicus brief filed in support of the petitioner, Washington, D.C., urging the court to overturn the lower court decision and to uphold D.C. gun laws.

For a complete list of the Amicus briefs filed go to:

To read specific briefs in favor of the petitioner go to:

To read specific briefs in favor of the respondent go to:

C-span will air the audio of the oral arguments as soon as they are released. For more information go to:

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Vermonters want stronger gun laws

WCAX, channel 3, in Burlington, Vermont recently conducted a phone survey of randomly called, likely voters. They asked one simple question: Would you favor or oppose the state passing new legislation to restrict sale or ownership of guns?
The answer was a resounding “yes!” By a more than 3 to 2 margin (57 percent in favor, 35 percent opposed, 8 percent not sure) Vermonters expressed their desire for stronger gun laws.
The report (which aired on February 28th) sought reaction to this poll from a number of people. A member of Gun Owners of Vermont said that, given the decline in hunting over the years, she was not surprised by the response. She added, “I’m sure over time Vermont’s legislation will reflect the will of the people which may well change as it does.” The spokesperson for New England Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence (thank you Eliot Nelson!) noted that “this poll reflects that there is reasonable ground for legislative efforts.”
It comes as no surprise that, even in Vermont, people see the need for stronger gun laws. Vermont has seen a recent rise in gun violence (four drug-related gun incidents, including a homicide, in Rutland over the past three months). And across the nation we continue to see mass shooting after mass shooting. (Just this week, a gunman opened fired at a Wendy’s restaurant in Florida, killing one and wounding five others before turning the gun on himself. In Memphis, four adults and two children are shot and killed and three other children wounded in a killing that has left police with no suspects and no motive.)
Americans understand that this country needs stronger gun laws. So why is this so difficult for elected officials to understand?
WCAX also interviewed the State Senate head of the Judiciary Committee and the Vermont governor. Both express surprise over the poll results. Both denied the need for stronger gun laws. And, just like all the presidential candidates, they expressed their support for the 2nd Amendment. (does the 2nd Amendment mean no gun laws??)
If the people want stronger gun laws why are our elected officials so opposed? Because they believe the propaganda of the gun lobby, they believe that voting for stronger gun laws means voting to end their political careers. The majority of calls, emails, and letters to legislators come from gun rights people. This has to change. Take a moment, find your legislator, and let them know that gun violence prevention is important to you. Tell them it is time to work for stronger gun laws.