December 1, 2016 – Today the Minnesota Coalition for Common Sense and local business leaders called on Minnesota lawmakers to reduce gun violence in wake of a new report that examines the cost of gun violence on Minnesota. The report, which was co-authored with Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, retired combat veteran and NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, and its partner organization the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, highlights the economic cost of gun violence on Minnesota’s economy and the state’s business community.
The new report, “The Economic Cost of Gun Violence in Minnesota: A Business Case for Action,” is being released as Minnesota continues to grapple with a gun violence crisis that costs the state $764 million each year. The report also found that gun violence costs Minnesota over $50 million annually in lost business opportunity.
The report comes on the heels of Congresswoman Giffords and Captain Kelly’s visit to Minnesota earlier this year to launch the “Minnesota Coalition for Common Sense, a bipartisan coalition – which includes leaders from across sectors – that has urged the state’s elected officials to advance policies that reduce gun violence.
The report outlines several key steps Minnesota’s legislators can take to address gun violence. These steps include:
- Closing Background Check Loopholes. Minnesota currently does not require criminal background checks on all gun sales. This loophole lets felons, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill buy guns in Minnesota without a background check.
- Investing in the Community – Addressing Environmental Risk Factors. Gun violence thrives in areas where environmental conditions – such as abandoned lots and unsafe public parks – leave communities feeling disempowered. By investing in programs that reclaim public space for community use and clean up abandoned properties in impacted communities, Minnesota can reduce violence while also creating social and economic opportunity for local communities.
- Supporting Community-Based Violence Intervention Programs. Proven community-based intervention strategies can effectively address gun violence in at-risk populations, including young men of color who live in underserved neighborhoods. By establishing programs that connect at-risk youth to badly needed social services and creating hospital based intervention programs that use case managers to reduce the probability of violence by and against impacted individuals, Minnesota can achieve a substantial decline in violence.
“As a business owner in Saint Paul, I’ve seen our state’s gun violence crisis first hand, and was forced to relocate my business after numerous shootings made my employees and customers feel unsafe,” said Ingrid Christensen, a member of the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and President of INGCO International. I know our leaders can do more to keep guns out of dangerous hands and make Minnesota safer. That’s why so many of my fellow Minnesotans – including business owners like me – support responsible proposals that will reduce gun violence. Today, we’re standing together and demanding commonsense change because we have a responsibility to leave to our kids and grandkids a state and country that is safer from gun violence.
“As someone who has been involved in the Saint Paul business community for nearly two decades, I’ve seen how our gun violence crisis has negatively impacted our businesses and our state’s economy. Shootings unleash fears that keep potential customers away and force businesses to relocate or limit their hours of operation,” said Jim Flaherty, a member of the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce and Owner of Allegra and Image360. “When it comes to reducing gun violence, we know what works and saves lives. What we need now is for other business leaders to stand up, speak out and demand action. We simply cannot afford to maintain the status quo in the face of this costly, destructive epidemic.”
“In the face of a gun violence crisis that leaves over 900 Minnesotans dead or injured every year, Minnesotans are demanding action from their leaders that makes their communities safer,” said Peter Ambler, Executive Director, Americans for Responsible Solutions. “We thank the Minnesota Coalition for Common Sense and members of the Minnesota business community who have used their voice to urge their elected officials to keep guns out of dangerous hands and save lives. In the coming months, we look forward to working with the Minnesota business community to help make Minnesota a safer place to live and work.”
“This report will be an invaluable resource for Minnesotans seeking to better protect their communities from the devastating impact of gun violence,” said Law Center Executive Director Robyn Thomas. “Our comprehensive—and importantly, quantifiable—review of the hundreds of millions of dollars gun violence costs Minnesota’s economy and business community each year reveals the scope of the problem while also providing legislators with the concrete, commonsense policy solutions they need to enact real, lasting change. Working in collaboration with the Minnesota Coalition for Common Sense and Americans for Responsible Solutions, we have the powerful opportunity to bring lifesaving smart gun laws like universal background checks to a state that so desperately needs them.”
The resource is the latest publication by ARS and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which joined forces in March 2016 to create powerful new force for gun safety legislation, research, education, communications, and advocacy under the leadership of Congresswoman Giffords and Captain Kelly, the leading voices in the movement to keep guns out of the wrong hands and help save lives from gun violence.
ABOUT AMERICANS FOR RESPONSIBLE SOLUTIONS’ WORK IN MINNESOTA
Building Support for Gun Violence Prevention in 2016 Through Advocacy: During the state legislative session, ARS’s advocacy arm launched a direct mail program to build support in key districts for background checks for all gun sales. And in February 2016, Congresswoman Giffords and Captain Kelly traveled to Minnesota to launch the “Minnesota Coalition for Common Sense,” a new bipartisan coalition – which includes leaders from across sectors – to urge the state’s elected officials to advance background checks and other policies that reduce gun violence.