A Message from the President of Americans Against Gun Violence
November 9, 2020
With the outcome of the 2020 presidential election now decided, the fact that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be the next President and Vice President, respectively, of the United States of America brings new hope that we can make progress toward ending our country’s epidemic of gun violence.
It’s hard to imagine any president being worse on the gun violence issue than our current lame duck, Donald J. Trump, who promised the National Rifle Association at the beginning of his presidency, “I will never, ever let you down.”[i] On the other hand, if we hope to make progress in preventing gun violence over the next four years, we will need to educate both President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris concerning the facts that the main reasons for our country’s extraordinarily high rate of gun violence as compared with all the other high income democratic countries of the world are our extraordinarily lax gun control laws and the related extraordinarily high number of privately owned guns per capita in our country; and that in order to reduce our rate of gun deaths and injuries to levels comparable to the rates in other advanced democracies, we must adopt comparably stringent gun control laws. Based on past statements that they’ve made, both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris clearly have significant gaps in either their knowledge or in their political courage on the issue of gun violence prevention. Given that they’ve both pledged to be guided by science, truth, and the bests interests of the American people, though, I have hope that with the help of input from people like us, those gaps can be filled.
And at the same time that we educate President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris and urge them to have the political courage to openly advocate and do everything within their power to achieve the adoption of stringent gun control laws in the United States comparable to the laws in other high income democratic countries, we need to continue to work to fill the gaps in the knowledge and/or political courage of other elected leaders and to dispel some myths that are widely accepted by a majority of the American electorate – myths that constitute the main obstacles to stopping our country’s epidemic of gun violence. These myths include 1) the myth that the Second Amendment was intended to confer an individual right to own guns; 2) the myth that honest, law-abiding people should own or carry guns "for protection;" 3) the myth that we can stop the epidemic of gun violence in our country without adopting stringent gun control laws comparable to the laws in other high income democratic countries and without substantially reducing the number of privately owned guns in circulation; and 4) the myth that we need more research in order know what steps we must take to prevent gun violence.
I will be posting additional information in the near future concerning these four myths and the extent to which President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris have endorsed them, refuted them, or been silent on them in the past. For now, though, for a more detailed discussion of these four myths, I'll direct interested readers to the expanded text of the presentation that I gave at the American Public Health Association annual conference on October 26, 2020.
At this point in time, I would also like to urge you to view the moving keynote address that Dr. Michael North delivered at our National Gun Violence Prevention conference on November 15, 2020. Dr. North lost his five year old daughter, Sophie, in the mass shooting committed by a man with who legally owned handguns at the elementary school in Dunblane, Scotland in 1996. Dr. North subsequently helped lead a successful campaign to completely ban handguns in Great Britain. (Great Britain already had a ban on most automatic and semi-automatic long guns.) Since the ban was enacted, there have been no further school shootings in Great Britain, and the rate of gun deaths in Great Britain is currently 1/60th the rate in the United States.
The video of the first hour of our National Gun Violence Prevention conference also includes an enlightening discussion of the Second Amendment and the Supreme Court's rogue 2008 Heller decision by Anthony Schoenberg, J.D., who helped successfully defend a gun lobby challenge to a local large capacity magazine ban in the case of Fyock v. Sunnyvale.
We hosted the virtual National Gun Violence Prevention conference via Zoom in lieu of our traditional annual dinner due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Our annual dinners have been our main fundraising events in past years. Although we didn't ask for anyone to pay to register for the Zoom conference, we would appreciate it if you're not already an official paid member of Americans Against Gun Violence, that you would join at this time at the rate of just $25/year ($10/year for students). And of course, if you're in a position to make an early end of year donation to support our ongoing work, we'd greatly appreciate any additional contribution that you could make.
Thanks for your support. Whether or not you were able to join in the live virtual conference on November 15, I hope you'll view the recorded portions of the conference and that you'll join me in committing to do everything within our power to overturn the rogue 2008 Heller decision and to adopt stringent gun control laws in the United States comparable to the laws that Dr. North and his colleagues were able to get passed in Great Britain.
Bill Durston, MD
President, Americans Against Gun Violence
[i] Michele Gorman, “Full Transcript: President Trump’s Speech Fires up the NRA,” Newsweek, April 28, 2017, http://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-full-transcript-atlanta-592039.