Gabby Giffords, Mark Kelly and Delaware Leaders Announce New Bipartisan “Delaware Coalition for Common Sense” to Urge State’s Elected Officials to Act to Reduce Gun Violence

March 28, 2016 – Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, the Co-Founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions, joined with Delaware leaders today in Wilmington to announce a new bipartisan coalition, the “Delaware Coalition for Common Sense.” The coalition’s members – which include leaders from across sectors and parties – will urge their elected officials to advance policies that help keep guns out of the wrong hands and prevent gun tragedies while protecting the rights of law-abiding Americans to own firearms.

The coalition will focus on commonsense solutions that will help make Delaware families safer from gun violence, like:

  1. Preventing people experiencing a mental health crisis from temporarily accessing gunsby providing clear processes for families and law enforcement to ensure that person can’t get their hands on a gun; and

  1. Strengthen the gun background check system by closing the dangerous “Charleston loophole” that allows gun sales to proceed automatically before a background check is completed, and ensuring that law enforcement are notified when dangerous people fail a criminal background check.

Delaware law currently also does not provide clear processes for families and law enforcement to temporarily prevent individuals experiencing a mental health crisis or other people at risk of committing violent acts – against themselves or others – from accessing firearms. Delaware also follows federal law, which allows FBI and ATF agents only three business days to investigate the potential purchaser. If a gun dealer has not been informed of a final determination after three days, the dealer is legally permitted to proceed with the sale. These default proceed sales, also known as the “Charleston loophole,” exemplify a glaring and dangerous gap in federal gun laws. Dylann Roof, the shooter who killed nine people at a Charleston church, was prohibited under federal law from purchasing his gun due to a disqualifying drug record that should have made it illegal for him to buy a firearm. Due to the fact that this determination was not made until after three days, the sale was able to proceed.

Members of the Delaware Coalition for Common Sense include:

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Co-Founder, Americans for Responsible Solutions

Captain Mark Kelly, Co-Founder, Americans for Responsible Solutions

Beverley Baxter, Former Academic and Human Rights Advocate

Robin Brinkley-White, Founder, Brandon Lee Brinkley Foundation, Inc.

Dennis Greenhouse, Former New Castle County Executive; Chair, Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence, Inc.

George Higgins, Executive Director, Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence

Gregory Jaskolka, Retired Philadelphia Police Officer and United States Marine

Frederika Jenner, Educator and Union Leader

Rev. Terrence Keeling, Pastor, Central Baptist Church

Mariann Kenville-Moore, Director of Advocacy and Policy, Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Inc.

Janet Kilpatrick, Councilmember, New Castle County Council

George Krupanski, President and Chief Executive Director, Boys and Girls Clubs of Delaware

Nolan Lewis, Commander, Delaware Chapter #94, National Association of Black Veterans

Jeffrey Lott, Communications Director, Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence

Maria Matos, Executive Director, Latin American Community Center

Jack Polidori, Vice Chair, Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence, Inc.

Darryl Scott, Director, Account Management, Sitel

Will Smith, Master Instructor, Organizational & Strategic Leadership

Liane Sorenson, Former Delaware State Senator and Chair, Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence Educational Fund

Sandy Spence, Advocacy Chair, League of Women Voters of Delaware

Stephanie Staats, Chief Executive Officer, YWCA of Delaware

Doris Thomas, Principal Organizer, Military Wives; Ex-Wives for Peace

“Stopping gun violence takes courage – the courage to do what’s right, and the courage of new ideas. I’ve seen great courage when my life was on the line,” said Congresswoman Giffords in her remarks at today’s announcement. “Now is the time to come together – to be responsible! Democrats, Republicans – everyone.”

“Gabby and I are honored to join with so many leaders from across Delaware to fight for safer communities and some commonsense change,” said Captain Kelly, a U.S. Navy combat veteran and former NASA astronaut. “We have a gun violence crisis in our country that makes us stand out in the worst of ways. We have to do better. We can – and we must. We’ve all seen the bumper sticker: ‘Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.’ It’s true. And that’s exactly why our leaders need to do more to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners like Gabby and me. It’s the responsible thing to do.”

“I’m honored to stand with Gabby, Mark and so many leaders from across Delaware to urge our leaders to do more to address the gun violence that is tearing so many of our communities apart. We cannot allow these epidemic levels of gun violence to become the new normal. Our leaders cannot allow it. We are asking them to act to save lives. I am honored to join in this fight for a safer Delaware,” said Rev. Terrence Keeling, Pastor of Central Baptist Church.

“I’ve been working on protecting Delaware’s domestic violence survivors for over two decades, and I was on the Delaware Domestic Violence Coordinating Council during my career as a legislator. Today is yet another sign that Republicans and Democrats can come together around responsible solutions that would make Delaware safer. Now, it’s up to our leaders in Dover to follow suit, be responsible and help build a safer Delaware,” said Liane Sorenson, Former State Senator and Chair, Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence Educational Fund.

“Nearly eight years ago, my son Brandon was murdered with a gun three days before his 25th birthday. No parent should ever have to bury a child from gun violence. Yet every 70 minutes, a child under the age of 25 dies from a gunshot wound in our country. As a state and as a nation, I know that we are better than this. I know that we can make it harder for dangerous people to access guns. And I know we can make our communities safer from gun violence,” said Robin Brinkley-White, Board Member, Delaware Coalition Against Gun Violence. “The commonsense solutions that we are supporting here today might not have saved my child’s life, but it might save yours. That’s why I’m proud be part of the fight to make Delaware a safer place for our children and families.”

“As a proud veteran and former law enforcement officer, I know all too well the important role that guns can can play in the hands of responsible, law-abiding people – and I also know the kind of tragedy that can unfold when guns fall into the wrong hands,” said Gregory Jaskolka, a retired Philadelphia police officer and United States Marine. “That’s why our leaders need to be doing everything they can to keep guns out of the wrong hands. I’m joining in this fight with Congresswoman Giffords and Captain Kelly because I know we don’t have to choose between responsible changes to our laws and our rights.”

“Guns and domestic violence are a deadly, tragic mix. As someone who works with this issue first hand, I have seen how domestic abusers can use guns to intimidate, threaten, injure and end the lives of victims of domestic violence. Firearms threaten the safety of women and children when they fall into the hands of dangerous people like domestic abusers and stalkers. That’s one reason why nearly half of all domestic violence-related deaths in Delaware involve a firearm,” said Mariann Kenville-Moore, Director of Advocacy and Policy, Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “Our leaders can and must do more to make our communities safer.”

Delaware is proud to be among the growing list of states around the country that have taken bipartisan steps to limit abusers’ access to firearms. Last year, Congresswoman Giffords visited the Delaware State Capitol in May and called on lawmakers to pass SB 83 and help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. Americans for Responsible Solutions also supported the bill through an advocacy program that included that included digital advertising, grassroots organizing, mobilizing key supporters in Delaware urging them to tell their representatives to support the bill. Click here to learn more about Americans for Responsible Solutions’ work in Delaware.

ABOUT GUN VIOLENCE IN THE UNITED STATES

Each Year, 32,000 Americans Die from Gun Violence. Every day, 88 Americans are killed with guns, and nearly 12,000 Americans are murdered with a gun each year. [WISQARS Injury Mortality Reports, 1999-2010]

Americans Are 20 Times More Likely to Be Murdered with a Gun Than People in Other Peer Countries.[Journal of Trauma, Injury, Infection, and Critical Care, 2011]

The Number of Shootings Is On The Rise. While the number of gun murders in the U.S. has remained constant, the number of shootings has been increasing. The number of non-fatal gunshot wounds rose more than 50 percent between 2001 and 2013.[Everytown for Gun Safety, 2014]

ABOUT GUN VIOLENCE IN DELAWARE

Between 2001 to 2010, 782 People Were Killed with Guns in Delaware. Somebody is killed with a gun in Delaware every 4 days. In 2010, there were 88 gun deaths in the state. [Center for American Progress & Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence]

Nearly Half of All Domestic Violence-Related Deaths in Delaware Involve a Gun. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of all domestic violence homicide victims between 2003 – 2012 were killed with guns. Firearms accounted for the murders of 43 women in Delaware from 2001 to 2010. [Center for American Progress & Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence]

ABOUT DELAWARE’S GUN LAWS

Delaware Closed Loopholes in Federal Law To Help Protect Domestic Violence Victims From Abusers with Access to Firearms. Having closed the loopholes in our federal gun laws, Delaware currently prohibits individuals convicted of dating partner violence within the past five years from buying or owning guns. [Americans for Responsible Solutions]

Delaware Doesn’t Provide Processes for Families to Ensure Loved Ones Experiencing A Mental Health Crisis Don’t Have Easy Access to Guns. Delaware law currently also does not provide clear processes for families and law enforcement to temporarily prevent individuals experiencing a mental health crisis or other people at risk of committing violent acts – against themselves or others – from accessing firearms. [Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence]

“Charleston Loophole” Allows Gun Sales in Delaware to Proceed Even When Criminal Background Check Isn’t Complete. While 91% of background checks are processed instantly through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), 9% require further investigation before determining if the firearm transfer in question would violate federal or state law. But FBI and ATF agents are only allowed three business days to investigate the potential purchaser. If a gun dealer has not been informed of a final determination after three days, the dealer is legally permitted to proceed with the sale. These default proceed sales, also known as the “Charleston loophole,” exemplify a glaring and dangerous gap in federal gun laws. From 2010 to 2014 alone, 15,729 gun sales that should have been denied were allowed to take place through default proceeds because a final determination could not be made within the three day window. Dylann Roof, the shooter who killed nine people at a Charleston church, was prohibited under federal law from purchasing his gun but purchased his gun through this loophole. [Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence]