Background Checks Save Lives and Help Police Catch Criminals; Polls Show Overwhelming National Support for Background Checks; www.DemandAction.org
Following Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s signing of legislation to expand background checks for all gun sales and limit ammunition magazines today, the co-chairs of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, as well as Colorado Mayors Against Illegal Guns Chairwoman Marjorie Sloan of Golden, issued the following statements:
“Extending background checks to cover private sales and limiting high-capacity ammunition magazines are commonsense measures that will keep communities safer withoutinfringing on anyone’s Second Amendment rights,” said Mayors Against Illegal Guns Co-Chair and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “As lawmakers in Congress continue the debate over how to reduce gun violence in America, they should look no further than Colorado as a model of progress.”
“Colorado has taken the lead in making reform a reality,” said Mayors Against Illegal Guns Co-Chair and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “We need more states to follow Colorado’s example, and more of our elected officials to show the same courage we’ve seen from Governor Hickenlooper and the state’s legislators. It’s time for Congress to stand with the American people and take action to reduce gun violence.”
“Today is a momentous day for Colorado and for the millions of Americans everywhere who have called for sensible gun laws to protect our communities, our law enforcement officers, and our children,” said Colorado Mayors Against Illegal Guns Chairwoman and Golden Mayor Marjorie Sloan. “I applaud Governor Hickenlooper and state lawmakers for their leadership and commitment to putting public safety first. We’re taking substantive action at the local level to reduce gun violence — we need our representatives in Washington to follow suit.”
Colorado, with its strong hunting tradition, has been a pioneer in commonsense gun law reformsthat will prevent gun violence. After the mass shooting at Columbine, an overwhelming majority (70 percent) of Coloradans voted to require unlicensed sellers at gun shows to conduct background checks. Since closing the “gun show loophole,” Colorado has exported significantly fewer “crime guns” to other states. In 2000, the state was the 17th largest exporter of guns later found at crime scenes in other states. A year after the law was passed it ranked 27th, and by 2009 it ranked 32nd.
Around 40 percent of U.S. gun transfers are conducted by unlicensed “private sellers” who are not required to conduct a federal check, and who often do business at gun shows and on the Internet – indicating that about 6.6 million guns are transferred in the U.S. every year with no background check for the buyer. This loophole allows dangerous people who are prohibited from buying guns – including felons, domestic abusers and the seriously mentally ill – to avoid a background check by simply avoiding licensed dealers.
Evidence demonstrates that background checks save lives. For example, in the fourteen states that already require background checks for all handgun sales:
- Gun trafficking is 48 percent lower than in states that fail to require background checks for all handgun sales.
- In 2010, the rate of women murdered by an intimate partner with a gun was 38 percent lower than in other states, while the rate murdered by other means was nearly identical.
- The firearm suicide rate was 49 percent lower than in other states, even though people committed suicide in other ways at almost precisely the same rate.
Recent polls by Mayors Against Illegal Guns showed likely voters in a wide range of states and congressional districts overwhelmingly support background checks for all gun sales. The average support for background checks for all gun sales among 41 congressional district polls was 89 percent; the average among 21 statewide polls was 86 percent. The findings of these surveys can be found here. These findings are in line with recent independent polls that have found more than 90 percent of Americans support background checks for all buyers. Previous polling by Republican Frank Luntz for Mayors Against Illegal Guns also found that 82 percent of gun owners – including 74 percent of National Rifle Association members – support requiring criminal background checks for anyone purchasing a gun.
About Mayors Against Illegal Guns
Since its inception in April 2006, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has grown from 15 mayors to more than 900 mayors from across the country. We have more than 1.4 million grassroots supporters, making us the largest gun violence prevention advocacy organization in the country. The bipartisan coalition, co-chaired by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, has united the nation’s mayors around these common goals: protecting their communities by holding gun offenders and irresponsible gun dealers accountable; demanding access to trace data that is critical to law enforcement efforts to combat illegal gun trafficking; and working with legislators to fix gaps, weaknesses and loopholes in the law that make it far too easy for criminals and other prohibited purchasers to get guns. Learn more at www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org