“Disturbing” News About Children Being Killed in Ukraine –

and in the USA

 

A Message from the President of Americans Against Gun Violence

On the evening of February 28, my wife and I watched the segment of the PBS NewsHour concerning the military attack on Ukraine launched by Russian president Vladimir Putin. The program host warned at the beginning of the segment, “Images in this story may disturb some viewers.” The television coverage included a segment showing a mother sobbing as her six year old daughter, who had been hit in the chest by Russian shrapnel, was being wheeled into a Ukrainian operating room where doctors and nurses tried desperately, but unsuccessfully, to save the girl’s life. The image of the lifeless six year old girl, her pajamas splattered with blood, was beyond disturbing. The words, “horrific” and “heartbreaking” came to mind.

After watching the February 28 NewsHour segment about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I went to my computer to make a donation to Ukrainian humanitarian relief efforts. The first thing that popped up on my computer screen, though, was a news flash concerning a mass shooting that had just occurred inside a church in Sacramento 14 miles from our own home. A 39 year old man, who was under a domestic violence restraining order, had gone to the church on the pretense that he wanted to participate in a supervised social visit with his three daughters, ages 9, 10, and 13. He arrived at the church with an AR-15 style rifle, though, and shot and killed the supervising church elder and all three of his daughters before killing himself.

The words, “horrific” and “heartbreaking” again came to mind. And it struck me that while there were obviously vast differences in the scope of the Russian attack on Ukraine and the far more limited, but in some ways, equally horrific and heartbreaking mass shooting at the church in Sacramento, there were also some other parallels between these two attacks….

Read the full message

Preventing Firearm Related Deaths and Injuries in the United States of America
Mission Statement of Americans Against Gun Violence

Revised February 17, 2019

 

Firearm related deaths and injuries are a serious public health problem in the United States of America, and the rate of gun related deaths in our country is currently at least ten times higher than the average rate for the other high income democratic countries of the world. It is the position of Americans Against Gun Violence that we have not only the ability, but also the moral responsibility, to reduce rates of firearm related deaths and injuries in our country to levels that are at or below the rates in other economically advanced democratic countries.

Like other gun violence prevention organizations, we support common sense firearm regulations. We believe, however, that common sense dictates that in order to reduce rates of gun violence in the United States to levels comparable to other high income democratic countries, we must adopt comparably stringent gun control laws – laws that go far beyond the limited measures currently being advocated by other U.S. gun violence prevention organizations. Specifically, we believe that we should follow the examples of Australia and the United Kingdom, both of which reacted swiftly and definitively following mass shootings in their countries over two decades ago, by banning civilian ownership of all automatic and semi-automatic rifles, as in the case of Australia, and by banning civilian ownership of all handguns, as in the case of the United Kingdom. We also believe that we should follow the example of every other high income democratic country in requiring registration of all firearms and licensing of all firearm owners. Finally, we believe that in the United States, as in all other economically advanced democratic countries, the burden of proof  should be on any person seeking to acquire a gun to show convincing evidence that he or she needs one and can handle one safely, not on society to show evidence that he or she should not have a gun. And given the large body of evidence showing that there is no net protective value from owning or carrying a gun, “self defense” should not be automatically accepted as a reason for owning a gun in the United States, just as it is not accepted in most other high income democratic countries.

In the United States, like in other economically advanced democratic countries, stringent gun control laws need not prevent legitimate hunters and target shooters from pursuing their sports. As in those other countries, though, stringent regulation of civilian firearm ownership should be accompanied by stringent regulation of the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers.
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The Second Amendment, as it was interpreted repeatedly by the Supreme Court and almost every lower court for the first 217 years of our nation’s history, is no obstacle to the adoption of the stringent gun control laws advocated by Americans Against Gun Violence. The 2008 Heller decision, however, in which a narrow 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court ruled that the District of Columbia’s partial ban on handgun ownership violated the Second Amendment, is a significant obstacle. In the Heller decision, five justices endorsed an interpretation of the Second Amendment that the late Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger had called “…one of the biggest pieces of fraud – I repeat the word, ‘fraud’ - on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.” It is the position of Americans Against Gun Violence that the Heller case was wrongly decided. In the short term, Heller should be overturned. In the long term, Americans Against Gun Violence advocates the adoption of a new constitutional amendment that clarifies the Second Amendment in a manner consistent with the following statement in the majority opinion in the Supreme Court’s 1980 Lewis decision:

The Second Amendment guarantees no right to keep and bear a firearm that does not have “some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia.”

We are confident that one day, the United States will adopt stringent gun control laws comparable to the laws that have long been in effect in every other high income democratic country of the world. The only question is how many more innocent Americans will be killed and injured by guns before that day arrives. It is our mission to make that day come sooner rather than later.

Click on this link for a fully referenced, downloadable version of this mission statement in PDF format.

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