Press Release

Veteran Military Leaders Call on Congress to Strengthen Gun Laws, Pass Bipartisan Background Checks Bill

February 21, 2019 — Today, members of the Giffords Veterans Coalition, called on Congress to swiftly pass the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 (H.R.8), an important step in addressing America’s devastating gun violence crisis. In a letter sent to congressional leadership, thirteen top veteran military leaders highlighted the fact that horrific mass shootings and the daily toll of gun violence have left Americans feeling less safe and called on Congress to close loopholes in the country’s background check system that leave communities in danger.

The letter reads: “Each of us has, at some point in our lives, made the choice to risk our lives for our fellow citizens and place ourselves in harm’s way. We were trained, we were coached, and we were prepared for the dangers that we chose to face. This is not the case for most Americans, yet they continue to face danger on the sidewalk, in their homes, at school, and at work. It is in the same spirit that led us to serve in the armed forces that we ask you, our elected leaders, to help protect the American people from gun violence here at home. We urge you to support this legislation.”

The influential former military leaders point out why immediate action is needed as the gun death rate in America has reached its highest level in nearly 40 years. They also note that over 90 percent of voters, including voters from gun owning households, support passing legislation to require background checks for all gun sales.

No background check is required for sales at gun shows, through online marketplaces, or between unlicensed individuals. This has allowed individuals who would otherwise be prohibited from purchasing or possessing a gun to easily buy guns through these unregulated sales. The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 (H.R. 8) would require a background check on every sale, ensuring that people prohibited from purchasing firearms cannot exploit loopholes and purchase guns.

Members of the Giffords Veterans Coalition who signed the letter include:

General Peter W. Chiarelli, USA (Ret.)
General Wesley Clark, USA (Ret.)
General Stanley A. McChrystal, USA (Ret.)
General Michael Hayden, USAF (Ret.)
Admiral Thad Allen, USCG (Ret.)
Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, USA (Ret.)
Lieutenant General Russel L. Honoré, USA (Ret.)
Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy, USA (Ret.)
Lieutenant General Norman R. Seip, USAF (Ret.)
Rear Admiral James Barnett, Jr., USN (Ret.)
Brigadier General Stephen A. Cheney, USMC (Ret.)
Commander Carlos Del Toro, USN (Ret.)
Captain Terron Sims, II, USA (Ret.)

The Giffords Veterans Coalition is a national network of America’s veterans who advocate for evidence-based changes to our laws that will make our communities safer from gun violence. In the wake of the Las Vegas massacre – the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history – members of the Giffords Veterans Coalition sent a letter to Congressional leaders called on Congress to demonstrate “statesmanlike leadership and moral courage across party lines” and vote in the interests of their constituents.

The Coalition is focused on engaging other veterans, elected leaders, and non-traditional allies by:

  • Urging our elected leaders to close the loopholes in our background check laws that let individuals with violent criminal histories, domestic abusers, and people prohibited due to mental health reasons buy guns without a criminal background check.
  • Strengthening existing laws and ensuring lawmakers and stakeholders have the resources and training they need to prevent gun tragedies.
  • Partnering with other groups in the veterans community on suicide prevention and mental health.

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