TO: The Trump Administration
FROM: Giffords & Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence
DATE: February 15, 2018
RE: Nine Policy Recommendations to Address Gun Violence in the United States
“Later this month, I will be meeting with the nation’s governors and attorney generals, where making our schools and our children safer will be our top priority. It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference. We must actually make that difference.” – President Donald Trump, 2/15/18
In the aftermath of the shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 people, experts at Giffords and the Giffords Law Center recommend nine policy items to address gun violence in communities across the United States, including shootings at schools. Our recommendations include the following:
- Universal background checks — A universal background checks law would ensure that people prohibited from purchasing firearms cannot do so through an unregulated sale from an unlicensed or online seller or at a gun show. Closing this background check loophole is critical to making sure criminals and other dangerous people do not have access to firearms. It is also a policy that 95 percent of Americans support.
- Extreme Risk Protection Order laws — Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) laws enable family members and law enforcement to petition a court for a temporary order prohibiting a person from purchasing or possessing firearms. These orders are sought when the individual demonstrates behaviors that indicate they may be a danger to themselves or others. ERPO laws are exactly the type of policy that could help people struggling in crisis, including the shooter in Parkland, Florida, as the shooter’s classmates, teachers, family members, and law enforcement officers appear to have been aware that he was exhibiting dangerous behaviors.
- Child access prevention laws — Child access prevention laws, which hold adults liable for negligently storing firearms, are essential to ensuring that minors are not able to get guns from home and use them to perpetrate school shootings. One study found that over two-thirds of students who used guns to commit “targeted violence” against their school acquired the gun or guns used in their attacks from their own home or that of a relative. Another study showed that 73% of children aged nine and under reported knowing the location of their parents’ firearms and 36% admitted that they had handled the weapons, including many whose parents had reported their children did not know the location of their firearm.
- Allow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to fund gun violence research — In order to effectively solve this public health crisis, our country must begin to fully understand it. Congress should fund and allow the CDC to fund gun violence research. This research is critical for policymakers to understand and recommend effective solutions for making schools and communities safer.
- Defeat concealed carry reciprocity — After the horrific shootings in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, the House of Representatives passed a proposal, overwhelmingly opposed by law enforcement, to make it legal for more dangerous and untrained people to carry hidden, loaded guns in more public places. The House-passed bill included a provision that would make it easier for concealed carry permit holders from out of state, including those with little to no training, to carry hidden, loaded guns in K-12 schools. The Senate should listen to law enforcement concerns and vote down this reckless policy.
- Restore NICS funding — President Trump’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposal included a 16% cut to grants for states to upload prohibiting records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The system is only as strong as the records it contains, and in the wake of some of this country’s deadliest mass shootings, it is more important than ever that we strengthen the nation’s background check system.
- Reduce access to guns by domestic violence abusers — Expand firearm prohibitions for domestic abusers to include dating partner abusers and convicted stalkers. Gun laws that address abusive dating partners and stalkers are the most effective, and mass shooters often have a history of domestic abuse. Legislation seeking to keep guns away from abusive dating partners and stalkers has been introduced in both the House and Senate.
- Require gun stores to report multiple sales of all firearms, not just handguns, to law enforcement. Under current law, federally licensed firearms dealers must provide a report to ATF any time a person buys more than one pistol within five consecutive business days. This provision should be expanded to all firearms to provide law enforcement with a “red flag” and an opportunity to investigate what may be a person with dangerous intent.
- Treat assault weapons like handguns — It should not be easier to buy an assault weapon than a handgun. The minimum age of 21 for dealers to sell handguns and state waiting period laws should apply to assault weapons as well.
Giffords is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives from gun violence. Led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, Giffords inspires the courage of people from all walks of life to make America safer.
For nearly 25 years, the legal experts at Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence have been fighting for a safer America by researching, drafting, and defending the laws, policies, and programs proven to save lives from gun violence.