This Time is Different: Giffords Urges Passage of Senate Deal on Gun Safety
Framework Represents a Step Forward in Federal Gun Safety Policy for the First Time in Nearly 30 Years
Washington DC — Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, welcomed today’s announcement of a bipartisan gun violence prevention framework led by Senators Chris Murphy, Kyrsten Sinema, John Cornyn, and Tom Tillis, who are among a group of 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans supporting the package. It promises to establish a grants-to-states program for extreme risk laws, reduce the dangerous dating partner loophole, and establish an enhanced background checks review process for 18-to-21 year olds to purchase long guns. While this agreement does not include strong gun safety policies like universal background checks or a ban on large capacity magazines, it may represent a step forward in federal gun safety policy. The provisions included in today’s agreement, while incremental, would bolster public safety and ultimately save lives. A policy memo on the issues in the deal can be found here. Giffords organization leaders and experts are available for comment. To schedule a call please email email@example.com.
For the first time in nearly 30 years, Congress is attempting to say that this time is different. This is the result of a movement – because Giffords worked relentlessly to shift culture, mobilize voters, and build a movement that never gave up. Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook in 2012, Giffords has helped pass more than 460 gun safety laws in 45 states. We have helped to elect more than 350 candidates to federal and state offices. We have filed over 75 briefs defending gun safety laws in the courts. We are proud of the momentum we’ve built at the state level and the work we’ve done with our partners in Congress to reach this moment. Giffords will continue to take on the gun lobby and advocate for gun violence prevention efforts until the promise of a safe and just country is a reality for every American.
Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords:
“This bipartisan agreement on gun safety, the first in 30 years, will save lives, and I urge Congress to swiftly pass it. In the past, Congress has failed to act, but this time is different. Because in the nearly 10 years since Newtown, we’ve built a movement of millions of Americans. We’ve passed hundreds of bills in state legislatures. We’ve invested hundreds of millions in gun violence research and prevention. We’ve beat the gun lobby in elections and organized tens of thousands of gun owners for safety. Time and time again, we passed bipartisan gun safety legislation in the House. Still, the cynics said nothing would ever change.
“The gun lobby wanted us to give up hope — but we worked, we organized, we persevered. With gun violence spiking and as shootings became the leading cause of death for American children, we said: ‘It doesn’t have to be like this.’ This time, finally, Congress feels compelled to act.
“While this agreement is not perfect, many details remain to be worked out, and more must be done, we can now see it’s possible to cut through the politics, put aside the special interests, and listen to the overwhelming bipartisan majority of Americans calling for action to prevent gun violence. It’s a demonstration that, even today, bipartisanship can deliver for the American people. This framework, if carefully drafted and passed into law, would be an important investment in the safety of our kids and communities. I urge Congress to move it forward as quickly as possible. There is still much more work to be done to save lives, and we will keep fighting.”
After the recent massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, Congress sprang into action and quickly passed a comprehensive gun violence prevention package through the House. On June 8th, the House passed the Protecting Our Kids Act, which included legislation to raise the age to 21 years old to purchase assault-style rifles and shotguns, address untraceable or ghost guns, prevent gun trafficking, and promote safe firearm storage. Additionally, on June 9th, the House voted to create a federal extreme risk protection order (ERPO) process, as well as establish a grant program to incentivize and support states to pass and implement state-level ERPO legislation. Extreme risk protection orders empower law enforcement agencies, and often families and household members, to petition courts for a civil (non-criminal) order to temporarily suspend a person’s access to firearms before they commit violence against others or themselves.
Firearms-related provisions within the much more modest framework announced by the Senators today include:
Extreme Risk laws, also known as Red Flag laws:
- In many states, families and law enforcement lack an ability to limit a person’s access to guns even when the person has demonstrated signs of a serious crisis. Extreme risk laws provide families, household members, and law enforcement agencies with the ability to petition courts for an “extreme risk protection order” (“ERPO”), a civil (non-criminal) order to temporarily suspend a person’s access to firearms before they commit violence.
- However, unlike most other gun safety laws, ERPO laws only work to reduce gun violence if people use them. If law enforcement officers and other potential petitioners don’t know that ERPOs are available, if courts don’t know how to address ERPO petitions, or if law enforcement officers don’t know how to remove guns from people subject to ERPOs, guns may not be removed from people at risk of suicide or violence. The jurisdictions with the most success have benefitted from significant investments in ensuring that law enforcement receive training, courts develop protocols, and the public is aware of the availability of ERPO procedures. This work requires funding and resources, above and beyond just the legislative work of passing these laws.
- By promising federal funding and support for implementation of ERPO laws, this deal raises the potential for a significant step forward in federal gun policy.
Dating Partner Loophole:
- Our laws have far too many loopholes that enable domestic abusers to access weapons. In particular, nearly half of all intimate partner homicides are committed by dating partners. Federal law prohibits abusers who were married to or lived with their victims or had children with them from possessing guns if they are subject to a restraining order or convicted of the domestic violence. But federal law allows abusive dating partners to legally purchase and possess firearms, despite the same convictions or restraining orders, just because they were never married to, lived with, or had children with their victims.
- 28 states and DC have partially or completely closed the so-called “boyfriend or dating partner loophole.” States that have closed the “boyfriend loophole” have experienced a 16% reduction in intimate partner gun homicides.
- Addressing abusive dating partners by reducing the loophole moving forward, as this deal promises to do, would strengthen the law and save lives.
Enhanced Background Checks Process for Young People:
- Under current federal law, a purchaser must be 21 years old to purchase a handgun from a federally licensed firearms dealer but only 18 years old to purchase rifles or shotguns, including semiautomatic assault rifles. Young people disproportionately commit gun homicides: 18-20 year olds comprise just 4% of the US population, but account for 17% of known homicide offenders.
- Under current federal law, a licensed gun dealer may transfer a firearm to a prospective purchaser as soon as he or she passes a background check. If the background check system is unable to complete the check within three business days, the dealer may complete the transfer by default.
- The deal would continue to allow a person under age 21 to purchase a long gun, but would require additional investigative steps to review juvenile records and the opportunity to consult with local law enforcement.
Resources: Policy Memo
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