High profile shootings in the USA……
Municipal Center, Virginia Beach, Virginia, May 31, 2019: 12 people killed, 4 wounded…
STEM Charter School, Highlands Ranch, Colorado, May 7, 2019: 1 student killed, 8 students wounded…
University of North Carolina, Charlotte, April 30, 2019: 2 students killed, 4 students wounded…
Baltimore, Maryland neighborhood cookout, April 29, 2019: 1 person killed, at least 7 people wounded…
April 27, 2019, Chabad Synagogue, Poway, California: 1 woman killed, 3 people, including 8 year old girl, wounded…
February 15, 2019, Henry Pratt Manufacturing Plant, Aurora, Illinois: 5 employees killed, 5 police officers wounded…
January 26, 2019, near Baton Rouge, Louisiana: 5 people killed, including gunman’s girlfriend, girlfriend’s father and brother, and gunman’s parents…
January 23, 2019, SunTrust Bank, Sebring, Florida: 5 women killed…
January 10, 2019, Davis, California: 22 year old female police officer ambushed and killed during her first month on the job while investigating minor traffic accident…
Chicago Mercy Hospital, November 20, 2018: Emergency physician, pharmacy resident, and police officer killed by physician’s ex-boyfriend…
Thousand Oaks, California, November 7, 2018: 12 people killed, 22 injured…
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, October 27, 2018: 11 people killed, 6 wounded at Jewish synagogue by anti-Semitic gunman…
Bakersfield, California, September 13, 2018: 5 people killed, including shooter’s ex-wife…
Cincinnati, Ohio, Fountain Square Office Building, September 6, 2018: 3 people killed, 2 wounded…
Jacksonville, Florida Video Football Gaming Tournament, August 26, 2018: 2 people killed, 9 wounded…
Capital Gazette newspaper, Annapolis, Maryland, June 28, 2018: 5 people killed, including editor, 3 journalists, and another staff member…
Santa Fe High School, Santa Fe, Texas, May 18, 2018: 8 students and 2 teachers killed, 13 wounded…
Nashville, Tennessee, April 22, 2018: 4 people killed, 2 wounded…
Pathway Home for Veterans with PTSD, Yountville, California, March 9, 2018: 3 female staff killed by former client…
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, February 14, 2018: 14 students and 3 staff killed, 17 wounded by former student…
Marshall County High School, Benton, Kentucky, January 23, 2018: 2 students killed, 12 wounded…
Highlands Ranch, Colorado, December 31, 2017: 1 police officer killed, 4 other officers and 2 civilians wounded…
Tehama County, California, November 14, 2017: 5 people killed, 12 wounded, including 6 children…
Sutherland Springs, Texas, November 5, 2017: 26 people killed, 20 wounded…
Las Vegas, Nevada, October 1, 2017: 58 people killed, 422 wounded…
Freeman High School, Rockford, Washington, September 13, 2017: 1 student killed, 3 students wounded…
New York City Bronx-Lebanon Hospital, June 30, 2017: 1 person killed, 5 wounded…
Little Rock, Arkansas, June 30, 2017: 25 people wounded…
Alexandria, Virginia baseball field, June 14, 2017: 4 people wounded…
San Francisco UPS warehouse, June 14, 2017: 3 people killed, 2 wounded…
Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale Airport, Florida, January 6, 2017: 5 people killed, 6 wounded…
On an average day in the United States: 99 people killed by guns, 232 wounded….
Since 1968, more U.S. civilians have been killed by guns than all the U.S. soldiers killed in all the wars in which the United States has ever been involved…
Townville, South Carolina, September 28, 2016: 2 people killed, including shooter’s father and 6 year boy, 2 others wounded by 14 year old boy…
Burlington, Washington, September 28, 2016: 5 people killed at department store makeup counter…
Fort Myers, Florida, July 25, 2016, 2 people killed: 17 wounded…
Sniper Attacks, Dallas, Texas, July 7, 2016: 5 people killed, 7 wounded…
Pulse Nightclub, Orlando, Florida, June 12, 2016: 49 people killed, 58 wounded…
Excel Industries, Hesston, Kansas, February 25, 2016, 3 people killed, 14 wounded…
Kalamazoo, Michigan, February 20, 2016, 6 killed, 2 people wounded…
On an average day in the United States in 2015, 99 people killed by guns, 232 wounded….
Since 1968, more U.S. civilians have been killed by guns than all the U.S. soldiers killed in all the wars in which the United States has ever been involved…
Inland Regional Center, San Bernardino, California, December 2, 2015, 14 people killed, 21 wounded…
Planned Parenthood, Colorado Springs, November 27, 2015, 3 people killed, 9 wounded…
Umpqua Community College, Roseburg, Oregon, October 1, 2015, 9 people killed, 9 wounded…
Marine Corps Recruitment Center, Chattanooga, Tennessee, July 16, 2015, 5 people killed, 2 wounded…
Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, South Carolina, June 17, 2015, 9 people killed, 1 wounded…
On an average day in the United States in 2014, 92 people killed by guns, 222 wounded…
Since 1968, more U.S. civilians have been killed by guns than all the U.S. soldiers killed in all the wars in which the United States has ever been involved…
Marysville-Pilchuck High School, Marysville, Washington, October 24, 2014, 5 people killed, 1 wounded…
University of California, Santa Barbara student mass murder, Isla Vista, California, May 23, 2014, 6 people killed, 13 wounded…
Fort Hood, Texas, April 3, 2014, 3 people killed, 12 wounded…
Rancheria Tribal Office and Community Center, Alturas, California, February 20, 2014, 4 people killed, 2 wounded…
On an average day in the United States in 2013, 92 people killed by guns, 231 wounded…
Since 1968, more U.S. civilians have been killed by guns than all the U.S. soldiers killed in all the wars in which the United States has ever been involved…
Washington Navy Yard, Washington D.C., September 16, 2013, 12 killed, 8 wounded…
Hialeah Apartment Building, Hialea, Florida, July 26, 2013, 7 killed…
Santa Monica College, Santa Monica, California, June 7, 2013, 6 killed, 3 wounded…
Pinewood Village Apartment, Federal Way, Washington, April 21, 2013, 5 killed…
On an average day in the United States, 92 killed, over 180 wounded…
In an average year in the United States, over 30,000 killed, over 60,000 wounded…
Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut, December 14, 2012, 20 children and 7 adults killed, 2 wounded…
Accent Signage Systems, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 27, 2012, 7 killed, 1 wounded…
Sikh Temple, Oak Creek, Wisconsin, August 5, 2012, 7 killed, 3 wounded…
Century Movie Theater, Aurora, Colorado, July 20, 2012, 12 killed, 58 wounded…
Café Racer, Seattle, Washington, May 20, 2012, 6 killed, 1 wounded…
Oikos University, Oakland, California, April 2, 2012, 7 killed, 3 wounded…
"Pious condolences will no longer suffice…"
"Quarter measures and half measures will no longer suffice…"
"The time has now come that we must enact stringent gun control legislation…"
"…gun control legislation comparable to the legislation in force in virtually every civilized country in the world."

Senator Thomas Dodd, June 11, 1968

"Pious condolences will no longer suffice…"
"Quarter measures and half measures will no longer suffice…"
"The time has now come that we must enact stringent gun control legislation…"
"…gun control legislation comparable to the legislation in force in virtually every civilized country in the world."

Senator Thomas Dodd, June 11, 1968

Jun 02,2019

Americans Against Gun Violence Responds to Virginia Beach Mass Shooting

AAGunV in the News, Press Releases|

Sacramento California, June 2, 2019: Americans Against Gun Violence extends heartfelt sympathy to the families, friends, and coworkers of the 12 people who were killed in the mass shooting in the Municipal Center in Virginia Beach on Friday, May 31. We also extend our sympathy and wishes for a prompt and complete recovery to the other victims who suffered non-fatal wounds in the attack.

An NPR reporter who lives in Virginia Beach, Sara McCammon, commented on the PBS News Hour that people were reacting to the shooting “in sadly predictable ways.” A prayer vigil was held for the victims. Flags were flown at half staff. President Trump tweeted, “God bless the families and all.” But a local carnival went on as planned.[1] Speaking at a press release, Virginia Beach Police Chief James Cervera credited the rapid response and bravery of his officers for preventing more people from being killed and wounded, but he was reported to be “at a loss” to provide any suggestions concerning how the shooting might have been prevented in the first place.[2]

Initial reports indicate that the shooter, who was killed by police, was an employee at the Municipal Center. He reportedly used two semi-automatic handguns in the attack, both of which he had purchased legally. Semi-automatic handguns are the most commonly used firearm in mass shootings in the United States, and most mass shooters purchase their weapons legally.[3] Handguns are also the most commonly used firearm in other gun homicides and in gun suicides.[4] Owning or carrying a handgun provides no net protective value for honest, law-abiding people.[5]

The United States is the only high income democratic country in the world in which mass shootings occur on a regular basis.[6] Our rate of gun homicide is 25 times higher than the average gun homicide rate in the other economically advanced democratic countries of the world.[7] The reason for our extraordinarily high rate of gun violence is obvious. Our gun control laws are extraordinarily lax as compared with the laws in other high income democratic countries,[8] and our rate of civilian gun ownership is extraordinarily high.[9]

In 1968, the late Senator Thomas Dodd of Connecticut stated:

Pious condolences will no longer suffice….Quarter measures and half measures will no longer suffice…The time has now come that we must adopt stringent gun control legislation comparable to the legislation in force in virtually every civilized country in the world.[10]

We have not heeded Senator Dodd’s advice, and as a result, over the past 50 years, more US civilians have died of gunshot wounds than all the US soldiers killed in all the wars in which our country has ever been involved.[11]

It is the position of Americans Against Gun Violence that the United States should adopt a complete ban on civilian ownership of all handguns and all automatic and semi-automatic rifles. In order to ban handguns, we must first overturn the rogue 2008 Heller decision[12] in which a narrow 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court reversed over two centuries of legal precedent, including four prior Supreme Court decisions,[13] in ruling that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep a handgun in the home. Until we adopt stringent gun control regulations comparable to regulations in other high income democratic countries, we should not ask ourselves why mass shootings continue to occur on a regular basis in our country, but rather why we fail to take the obvious steps necessary to prevent them.

Note: Click on this link for a downloadable version of this press release in PDF format.

References

[1] “PBS News Hour Weekend Edition,” June 1, 2019.

[2] Laura Vozella et al., “Virginia Beach Shooting Updates: Officials Name Victims as Investigation Continues - The Washington Post,” Washington Post, June 1, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/twelve-people-killed-in-shooting-at-virginia-beach-municipal-complex-police-say/2019/06/01/4a264808-845c-11e9-95a9-e2c830afe24f_story.html?utm_term=.b6f231fb543b.

[3] Mark Follman, Gavin Aronsen, and Deanna Pan, “US Mass Shootings, 1982-2018: Data from Mother Jones’ Investigation,” Mother Jones (blog), accessed May 31, 2018, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/12/mass-shootings-mother-jones-full-data/.

[4] Josh Sugarmann, Every Handgun Is Aimed at You: The Case for Banning Handguns (New Press, 2001).

[5] William Durston, “Should Law-Abiding People Own Guns for Self Protection,” Americans Against Gun Violence: Facts and FAQ’s, June 1, 2019, https://aagunv.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/FAQ-guns-for-protection.pdf.

[6] Max Fisher and Josh Keller, “What Explains U.S. Mass Shootings? International Comparisons Suggest an Answer,” The New York Times, November 7, 2017, sec. Americas, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/07/world/americas/mass-shootings-us-international.html.

[7] Erin Grinshteyn and David Hemenway, “Violent Death Rates: The US Compared with Other High-Income OECD Countries, 2010,” The American Journal of Medicine 129, no. 3 (March 1, 2016): 266–73, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2015.10.025.

[8] “Gun Law and Policy: Firearms and Armed Violence, Country by Country,” GunPolicy.org, accessed December 3, 2017, http://www.gunpolicy.org/.

[9] Fisher and Keller, “What Explains U.S. Mass Shootings?”; “Compare the United States – Rate of Civilian Firearm Possession per 100 Population,” GunPolicy.org, accessed September 18, 2016, http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/compare/194/rate_of_civilian_firearm_possession/10,280,31.

[10] Thomas Dodd, “Text of Speech by Senator Thomas Dodd on Floor of U.S. Senate: The Sickness of Violence and the Need for Gun Control Legislation” (Office of Senator Thomas Dodd, June 11, 1968), http://thedoddcenter.uconn.edu/asc/research/gun_control.htm#; Thomas Dodd, “Press Release: Pious Condolences Will No Longer Suffice” (Office of Senator Thomas Dodd, June 10, 1968), http://thedoddcenter.uconn.edu/asc/research/gun_control.htm#.

[11] Louis Jacobson, “More Americans Killed by Guns since 1968 than in All U.S. Wars, Columnist Nicholas Kristof Writes,” @politifact, August 27, 2015, http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2015/aug/27/nicholas-kristof/more-americans-killed-guns-1968-all-wars-says-colu/.

[12] District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 US (Supreme Court 2008).

[13] United States v. Cruikshank, 92 US (Supreme Court 1876); Presser v. Illinois, 116 US (Supreme Court 1886); U.S. v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939) (n.d.); Lewis v. United States, No. 55 (U.S. 1980).

 

May 26,2019

Announcing the Winners in the 2019 Americans Against Gun Violence National High School Essay Contest

Current Year Essay Contest|

The prompt for the 2019 Americans Against Gun Violence National High School Essay Contest was the following excerpt from the majority opinion written by the late Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun in the 1980 case of Lewis v. United States:

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."

The contest was open to all high school students in the United States and its territories. Students were asked to describe their thoughts about the above statement by Justice Blackmun, but not necessarily to defend or refute it. Winning essays were chosen on the basis of their accuracy, originality, clarity, cohesiveness, and overall impact by more than 30 Americans Against Gun Violence supporters who read and rated the essays blinded to any student identifying information. We initially announced that Americans Against Gun Violence would be awarding a total of $15,000 distributed among twelve winners. After reading all of this year's entries, however, we decided that there were so many compelling essays that we would increase the total amount of awards to $16,200, distributed among 24 winners.  (Tax-deductible donations to fund the essay contest in future years can be made via the Join/Donate page of this website.)

We are pleased to present the winning essays in the 2019 Americans Against Gun Violence National High School Essay Contest below. Again this year, however, several of our essay contest winners have chosen not to have either their names or their high school affiliations released in association with their essays. We understand the concerns of these students and support their decisions to withhold identifying information from the public. We are at the same time deeply disturbed by the toxic atmosphere in our country that not only makes students fear the possibility of getting shot and killed when they go to school, but of being attacked in one form or another if they openly express their opinions on the subject of gun violence prevention. It is the mission of Americans Against Gun Violence to eradicate this toxic atmosphere and to stop the shameful epidemic of gun violence that disproportionately threatens the health and safety of our children and our youth.

 

First Place Winner ($3,000 award)

Seo Park

Archbishop Mitty High School, San Jose, California

Redefining America without its Defining Factor — Guns ....Many Americans believe they have the right to own a gun...In fact, the Second Amendment, as it was originally written, does not prohibit the adoption of laws banning most civilian gun ownership today...The voice of my generation can write our future... Our lives are not a gun's to take, and we will ensure that future generations are protected... We are equipped with everything we need...the truth about the Second Amendment, the facts about gun violence, the tragic stories, and most importantly, the passion and care we possess....Read the full essay

 

Second Place Winner ($2,500 Award)

Rhea Jansen

Freeman High School, Rockford, Washington

When the clock struck 10:08 on March 14th, there were shared looks throughout my classroom, and with a nod of our heads, the five of us stood up and walked out of the school. This came one month after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) shooting that resulted in the loss of 17 innocent lives. But the walkout wasn't only to show unity. My tiny school experienced a similar tragedy five months earlier. It feels strange to say that we were the lucky ones, but after seeing on the news of the MSD mass shooting what could have happened at our high school if the shooter’s AR- 15 hadn't jammed, leaving him with a handgun as his only functioning firearm, we are the lucky ones. Lucky, compared to the MSD students, even though one student at our school was killed and three others were wounded...Read the full essay

 

Third Place Winner ($2,000 Award)

Brandon Restler

Ardsley High School, Ardsley, New York

....Only in the United States of America do students fear for their lives every day because of senseless, preventable gun violence.... Our country must not continue to look away from the truth: the truth that guns are killing innocent people, the truth that gun violence in the United States is much more common than in other developed countries, and the truth that the Second Amendment does not protect the right of everyday citizens to own murder machines....Read the full essay

 

$1,000 Award Winner

Jin Chey

St. Paul's School, Concord, New Hampshire

Student Voices: Now is the time...."You hear someone drop a book and you hear a loud noise and somewhere in the back of your mind as a 16-year-old hearing about these things you wonder, where's the nearest exit? And do I need to be worried for my safety right now?" This feeling is the sad reality of American school life....American schools are not being protected from gun violence....Read the full essay

 

$1,000 Award Winner

(Student Name and High School affiliation withheld at students' request)

Misunderstanding and Vagueness....Whenever the topic of gun control would be brought up in school or in the news...the Second Amendment would usually be mentioned, though it would only be explained as "the right to bear arms". Of course I would be somewhat familiar with the amendment as it has garnered a lot of controversy over the past few years. However, when I took a closer look at the Amendment, "militia" popped out to me. This word was never discussed.... Read the full essay

 

$1,000 Award Winner

Hana Kim

(High School affiliation withheld at student's request.)

...With the national rate of gun deaths the highest it’s been in more than 20 years and Americans being 10 times more likely to be killed by a gun than people in other developed countries, we live in a time in which we don’t possess the basic freedom from fear - a right that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proposed more than half a century ago. Instead, we’re forced into lockdown drills at school to prepare ourselves for the very possible threat of a shooter, stealing the innocence from a generation of youth who experienced their first lockdown when they were barely old enough to read. Indeed, the “well regulated militia” of the Second Amendment has been missing in action when it comes to preventing the harrowing number of mass shootings and other gun homicides in our country committed by individuals who were never intended to have a constitutional right to “keep and bear arms.” Read the full essay

 

$1,000 Award Winner

(Student Name and High School affiliation withheld at students' request)

Constitutional Commas and the Power of Punctuation….Recent interpretations of the Second Amendment's second comma downplay the importance of the militia as the reason for the right to bear arms. However..."A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state," is an absolute construction, a structure indicating a cause and effect relationship with the clause that follows it. Thus, the comma separating this phrase from "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms" is actually punctuation following the absolute clause that illustrates the inextricable relationship of the need for a militia to the possession of firearms...The countless catastrophic deaths of people in our nation due to gun violence demand that we consider the strong linguistic and historical evidence pointing to an interpretation of the Second Amendment that understands involvement with the militia to be the grounds for keeping and bearing something as powerful and destructive as a gun...Read the full essay

 

$1,000 Award Winner

Marissa Plaza

Folsom High School, Folsom, California

The Lethal Toy That's About to Take Down America...The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution has become an excuse for citizens to claim a deadly freedom. “The right to bear arms” is the only part of the Amendment mentioned anymore, and people are disregarding the entire first half of the Amendment, including the crucial phrase, “A well regulated militia.”....I refuse to be the next victim of a mass shooting. I refuse to allow the misinformed to continue allowing potentially dangerous people to purchase guns with ease. I refuse to let this great country spiral into death and disaster because of lethal toys....Read the full essay

 

$1,000 Award Winner

Gurashish Khangura

Argonaut High School, Jackson, California

Students enrich themselves within literature, solve puzzles as they delve into math, explore new depths to their creativity within art classes, and enroll in various classes that contribute to their diverse education. In recent times, they now also must learn how to board up their classroom windows. They memorize escape routes to classrooms from the possibly precarious outdoors. As little is being done to impede the critical prevalence of mass shootings, students must now learn how to safeguard their own lives....Read the full essay

 

$1,000 Award Winner

(Student Name High School withheld at students' request)

...The NRA has long interpreted the Second Amendment as guaranteeing a largely unfettered individual right to own guns. In the 1980 case of Lewis v. United States, however, the Supreme Court directly linked any right to bear arms to service in a well regulated militia....The NRA's sanctimonious misrepresentation of the Second Amendment continues to aid and abet mass shootings and impede solutions to the carnage.... How many bodies must litter the corridors of history before all sensible Americans take to the streets, exercising their First Amendment right to demand an end to the misrepresentation of the Second Amendment and an end to wanton gun violence in the United States of America?  Read the full essay

 

$250 Award Winner

Yasmine Mabine

Rancho Bernardo High School, San Diego, California

The Light Upon the Trees...Where gun advocates see lack of regulations as preservation of their "freedom," I see chaos as bullets fly through buildings and children lie on the floor. They see themselves as their forefathers fighting against tyranny, but I see people purchasing war-grade ammunition on a whim, inflicting senseless violence.... They see their constitution protecting their right to bear arms, but I see The Declaration of Independence declaring our right to life, liberty, and happiness...."A well-regulated militia." I wonder why I cannot see... Where was this militia as bullets took the lives of children at school?... I hold deep concern for a nation whose lens is so misconstrued that it is no longer able to distinguish a well-regulated militia from an unstable teenager with an assault rifle....Read the full essay

 

$250 Award Winner

Elizabeth Rieger

Edgemont Junior/Senior High School, Scarsdale, New York

The Right to Live is Not Ambiguous....Every morning at 8 am my sister and I go to school. Every morning we sit in the car, chatting about our assignments and tests. And every morning, as my sister and I part ways, an almost subconscious thought crosses my mind: "will we be OK at the end of the day?" I am sixteen years old, still learning my place in the world, and yet I have the additional daily burden of worrying whether my life, or the life of my sister, will be added to those sacrificed on the altar of the "right to bear arms." Read the full essay

 

$100 Award Winner

(Student's Name and High School affiliation withheld pending student's permission)

....Seventeen lives were taken on that Valentine's Day at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, including my good friend, Jaime Guttenberg.... There is a reason that people want to see stricter gun control laws in this country: innocent people are dying, gone forever, like Jaime.

 

$100 Award Winner

Diane Zhang

Fox Lane High School, Bedford, New York

... Justice Blackmun's statement has been challenged by the Court's ruling in District of Columbia v Heller, which knocked down the Washington D.C. handgun ban and granted individuals the right to bear arms. This contradicts the 2nd Amendment because it neglects that such a right only applies in relation to state militias, undermining context. Given that every day, 100 Americans are killed with guns, there is clearly a necessity in clarifying the boundaries of gun rights. Such patterns in gun violence in the United States are not an abuse of a preexisting right, but rather a catastrophic misinterpretation of the 2nd Amendment. 

 

$100 Award Winner

(Student's Name and High School affiliation withheld pending student's permission)

....Gun advocates will profess ad nauseum that owning a gun is an individual right and the only way to solve an issue with guns is more guns--an illogical and foolish argument because it only puts more guns on the streets to hurt people.

 

$100 Award Winner

(Student's Name and High School affiliation withheld pending student's permission)

....Lawmakers need to view the Constitution as a living document that should respond to cultural and societal changes and developments in technology. The advances in military armaments could not have been anticipated by the authors of the Constitution. Sensible restrictions on guns specifically designed to kill human beings are not unconstitutional. On the contrary, they are consistent with the right of all U.S. citizens to, "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

 

$100 Award Winner

(Student's Name and High School affiliation withheld pending student's permission)

...The full extent of what the Second Amendment guarantees is often misunderstood, as the Second Amendment states that the right to bear arms is only given when there is a reasonable connection to upholding a civilian militia.... The 2008 Heller decision created the biggest barrier the nation ever had to gun control laws, essentially deleting the phrase, "A well regulated militia,"  from the Second Amendment.... How much longer must this nation watch as children die and become desensitized to a nation plagued with violence?

 

$100 Award Winner

(Student Name High School withheld at students' request)

.... As a society and a nation, we have progressed tremendously.... Yet to this day we seem to think gun ownership is crucial to the American identity. Much of this perception comes from the powerful gun lobby, particularly the NRA, and an arguably improper Supreme Court case. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia vs Heller that the 2nd Amendment's reference to militias was a "prefatory clause" and was therefore not limiting of the right to bear arms....The founding fathers chose their words carefully, and choosing to selectively allow or ignore phrases of the Constitution as done in this case is comparable to rewriting it.

 

$100 Award Winner

(Student's Name and High School affiliation withheld pending student's permission)

...I attend a very conservative high school where the majority of students live in homes with firearms. Gun control is not a topic that I can bring up at school as I will be immediately ridiculed and excluded. The first line of defense in settling an argument today is, "I'll bring my gun." Is this a right our framers were considering when the Second Amendment was adopted?....The true meaning of the Second Amendment has been lost in translation by many Americans fueled by the National Rifle Association whose core arguments revolve around individual rights.... However, nowhere in the Amendment is the word "individual" noted...."A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state," does not refer to the common American citizen....

 

$100 Award Winner

(Student's Name and High School affiliation withheld pending student's permission)

On April 20, 2018, I unified over a third of my small, conservative school to rally for better gun legislation. My name was plastered in the news....Gun control opponents taunted us from afar....They spat insults toward me and fellow students....The number of times I've heard, "The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed," is uncountable, but I'll remember the words of Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun when standing my ground, for the first phrase of the Second Amendment, "A well regulated Militia," is often omitted....Now, next time somebody asks me why I'm "against the Constitution," I can ask them the same thing right back. 

 

$100 Award Winner

Arielle Geismar

New York, New York (High school name withheld at student's request)

....Our nation's Supreme Court interpreted the Second Amendment as guaranteeing no right to keep and bear arms that were not related to a well regulated militia, as articulated by Justice Blackmun in his majority opinion in Lewis v. United States. Decisions in United States v. Miller, Presser v. Illinois, and United States v. Cruikshank were all consistent with this decision...That is, until District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008. A decision made when I was just 7 years old has set a wildly dangerous precedent for the rest of my life....Somehow, it's up to me as a student to safeguard and fight for my safety, when the leaders of my country should have done this for me....

 

$100 Award Winner

Madeline Snoke

Mira Loma High School, Sacramento, California

....The Constitution was intended to be a living, changing document, and as times change, to be interpreted as safety, reason, and circumstance dictate. However, the issue of protection has turned into an issue of possessions. The Second Amendment is often cited by gun-owning individuals with respect to owning a weapon for themselves rather than their country. With an exponential rise in gun violence, a militia of gun-owning Americans shouldn't be the priority. Our priority should be the safety of the people who live in this country, the people the Constitution represents. 

 

$100 Award Winner

(Student's Name and High School affiliation withheld pending student's permission)

Constitutionally Condoned Killing in America....Gun violence in America far exceeds the rest of the industrialized world. Since 2009 there have been 288 school shootings in the United States. This is 57 times more than every other G7 country combined. ...The Second Amendment talks about a well-regulated militia and the regulation of the right to bear arms. It is unlikely that such arms were intended to include instruments of war that could be easily obtained by the civilian population for private ownership and use. Military grade weapons need to be regulated by the government as intended by the Constitution. 

 

$100 Award Winner

(Student's Name and High School affiliation withheld pending student's permission)

....We, as students, are worried. We pause and laugh nervously at the drop of a book, we hold our breath each time the office interrupts class over the speakers, we choke down hypotheticals during drills, and we watch as our teachers break mid-sentence....New Zealand's prompt response to the  Christchurch mass shooting is an embarrassment to the United States. It's appalling that our nation has yet to institute meaningful reform. Federal inaction has allowed for similar events to splinter lives and provoke tragedy upon tragedy. Our representatives in government have yielded to the influence of special interest groups, and their negligence to pursue a solution has left us all vulnerable....

 

May 24,2019

2018 National High School Essay Contest

Past Essay Contests|

Announcing the Winners of the 2018 Americans Against Gun Violence National High School Essay Contest

The prompt for the 2018 Americans Against Gun Violence National High School Essay Contest was the following statement made by the late Senator Thomas Dodd of Connecticut in a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate on June 11, 1968:

The time has now come that we must adopt stringent gun control legislation comparable to the legislation in force in virtually every civilized country in the world.

The contest was open to all high school students in the United States and its territories. The deadline for students to enter the contest was May 6, 2018. Winners were chosen by more than 30 Americans Against Gun Violence supporters who read and rated the students' essays blinded to any student identifying information. Americans Against Gun Violence is awarding a total of $15,000 to the twelve winners. Tax-deductible donations to fund the annual essay contest can be made via the Join/Donate page of this website.

Because of the personal attacks to which some high school gun control activists have been subjected in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February of this year, we gave essay contest winners the option of withholding their names and high school affiliations when their essays were published. We are pleased to present the winning essays in the 2018 Americans Against Gun Violence National High School Essay Contest below. We regret, however, that as a result of the toxic political culture that currently exists in our country surrounding the gun control issue, several students did not feel safe in having their names and high school affiliations published. It is part of the mission of Americans Against Gun Violence to change this culture.

 

First Place Winner ($3,000 award)

(Student Name and High School withheld at student's request)

Gun Control Lessons from Around the World: The Need for Reform in US Policy and Perspective....Over 1,600 mass shootings since Sandy Hook, the United States has still been unable to pass significant gun control laws....Modernized gun reform laws are long overdue in our nation, and it is time for the US to catch up to the contemporary laws of Canada, Britain, Norway, and countless other countries....Read the full essay

 

Second Place Winner ($2,500 Award)

Lucas Suter

Placer High School, Auburn, California

The Weight of Firearms....I'm tired of watching the news, seeing sobbing relatives of someone shot to death. I'm tired of knowing that there are thousands more whose sobbing relatives aren't on television. And I know we are all tired of living with the weight on our shoulders of the millions more who will be killed in our lifetimes....Read the full essay

 

Third Place Winner ($2,000 Award)

Katherine McCabe

Pioneer High School, Woodland, California

....So this is why we're walking out. We're scared, we're angry, and we want change. ....1,077 people have died in mass shootings since the University of Texas mass shooting in 1966. Legislation hasn't changed since that fateful day, and now, we're demanding that it does....Read the full essay

 

$1,000 Award Winner

(Student Name and High School withheld at students' request)

And here we are - 650,000 gun related homicides; more than twice that many wounded; 130,000 children and teen lives lost within that 50 year time span [since the speech by Senator Dodd] - yet, the quote is as relevant today as it was 50 years ago....People who deal with addiction say that they need to hit rock bottom in order to understand that they need to change. The question is, what is the rock bottom to have the US address its gun addiction? Read the full essay

 

$1,000 Award Winner

(Student Name withheld at students' request)

Poolesville High School, Poolesville, Maryland

Fifty Years....Fifty years later, the same words are declared but by a different generation. His voice echoes in our hearts and minds as Americans continue to look toward our government and toward each other for the same essential protection that Senator Dodd asserted the urgency of 50 years ago. Read the full essay

 

$1,000 Award Winner

Mila Opalenik

Amador High School, Sutter Creek, California

Where Is the Controversy? ...Why is it that with all the information available, people are still uninformed about the success that other countries have had with gun control measures that don't involve taking away all guns? ...Countries like Australia and Canada have had enormous success with gun control and safety measures while still allowing gun ownership, so why have we not followed in their footsteps? Read the full essay

 

$1,000 Award Winner

Luis Orozco

Lodi High School, Lodi, California

...[Senator Dodd's quote] remains an inspiration that the fight for stricter gun laws will not go out….I feel very strongly about this movement. This is why I organized my school's walkout on April 20th. Receiving a detention was a badge of honor for me for expressing my rights and beliefs about gun reform....Read the full essay

 

$1,000 Award Winner

(Student Name and High School withheld at students' request)

More of the Same Until We Change...According to a 2016 study published in the American Journal of Medicine, the United States gun homicide rate is 25 times higher than any other high-income country, which is not surprising given that America has the least stringent gun laws in the developed world...America needs to join the modern world and follow the advice of Senator Dodd. "We must adopt stringent gun control legislation," and we must do it now....Read the full essay

 

$1,000 Award Winner

(Student Name High School withheld at students' request)

Why are there two fire drills today, and is that fireworks we hear in the distance? We bustle though the crowd and we are still fine, until we get frantic texts from our friends and family asking if we are alive. It is then that the news reaches us, and the fear for our lives comes upon us. An active shooter is at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School....Read the full essay

 

$1,000 Award Winner

Anahi Ballesteros

Franklin High School, Stockton, California

I was only 12 as I sat in Math class... but then we hear a gun go off. I remember the sounds, the screams, my teacher calling someone on the intercom....I look down at my feet and I see a bullet next to my pink vans....I tried to erase what happened to me, but then Sandy Hook occurred....and since Sandy Hook, there have been at least 1,607 mass shootings, with at least 1,846 people killed and 6,459 wounded. When will it stop? Read the full essay

 

$250 Award Winner

(Student Name High School withheld at students' request)

It's Time for A Change...No other country comes close to the number of mass shootings seen in America annually. We could blame mental health but other countries have mentally ill people too. We could blame violent movies but other countries have violent movies too. We could blame gang violence but other countries have gangs too....Gun control has been proven to work in other countries; It’s time for the United States to make a change....Read the full essay

 

$250 Award Winner

Taylor Motley

Mountain View High School, Mesa, Arizona

Why Do I Have To March For My Life?....We have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours planning, organizing, phone-banking, emailing, et cetera, to mobilize action to keep our voices heard....It is sad that a bunch of high schoolers have to do this....Our legislators should have protected us long ago with actual gun control measures - protected us before we had to learn how to act dead so we aren't the next victim in a mass shooting....Read the full essay

 

Apr 29,2019

Americans Against Gun Violence Responds to Poway, CA and Baltimore, MD Shootings

Press Releases|

Sacramento California, April 29, 2019: Americans Against Gun Violence extends heartfelt sympathy to the friends, family, and fellow worshipers of the victim killed in the shooting at a synagogue in Poway, California, on Saturday, April 27; and to the friends, family, and fellow community members of the victim killed in the shooting at a neighborhood cookout in Baltimore, Maryland, on Sunday, April 28. We also extend our sympathy and wishes for a prompt recovery to the other victims who suffered non-fatal injuries in these attacks.

There is no uniform definition of a mass shooting in the United States.[1] The FBI defines a mass shooting as one in which at least four people, not including the shooter, are killed.[2] The website, Gun Violence Archive, by contrast, defines a mass shooting as one in which four or more people, not including the shooter, are wounded but not necessarily killed.[3] Using the Gun Violence Archive definition, both the Poway synagogue shooting, in which one person was killed and three others were wounded,[4] and the Baltimore neighborhood cookout shooting, in which one person was killed and at least seven others were wounded,[5] qualify as mass shootings. According to the FBI definition, on the other hand, neither attack was a mass shooting. Using the Gun Violence Archive definition of a mass shooting, on average there is almost one mass shooting a day in the United States.[6] Using the FBI definition, there are about four mass shootings a year.[7] Regardless of the definition of a mass shooting, on an average day in the United States, more than 100 people are killed with guns,[8] and two to three times this many people are wounded.[9]

The shootings in Poway and Baltimore demonstrate contrasting aspects of the gun violence epidemic in the United States. The Poway city website boasts of the city having the lowest crime rate of any city in San Diego County and one of the lowest crime rates in all of California.[10] The Poway synagogue shooting was clearly a hate crime.[11] The gunman, a white supremacist who was arrested without incident shortly after the shooting, shouted anti-Semitic rhetoric during the attack. He had also posted both anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim rhetoric on social media prior to committing the crime. It’s reported that he committed the shooting with an AR-15 style rifle which “miraculously jammed,” probably preventing the shooter from killing and wounding many more people.[12]

In contrast, Baltimore has one of the highest crime rates, including the highest homicide rate, of any city in the United States.[13] The motive in the neighborhood cookout shooting, which was reportedly committed by an unidentified “black man,” is unknown.[14]The weapon used by the shooter is also unknown, but given the reports of many shots being fired in rapid sequence, it was almost certainly a semi-automatic handgun or rifle. The attacker may have fled when someone participating in the cookout began shooting back.[15] A 25 year old man had been shot and killed in the same block one month earlier, and participants in the cookout reported that the sound of gunshots was commonplace in the neighborhood.[16]

The Poway synagogue shooting received considerable attention in the news media, with the emphasis being on the hate crime aspect of the shooting and the resilience of the Jewish community in Poway. The Baltimore shooting received far less attention outside of the Baltimore area. The media attention that the Baltimore shooting did receive focused on the culture of violence within the low income community of color in which the shooting occurred and the distrust that the community has for law enforcement officers.

The common factor in both the Poway and Baltimore shootings, as well as the common factor in the more than 200 other gun related deaths and two to three times that many gun related injuries that occurred in the United States this past weekend - if it was just an “average” weekend in the USA – is that all these deaths and injuries were committed with guns. The other common factor in the aftermath of Poway and Baltimore shootings is that the issue of gun control as a means of preventing such shootings was hardly mentioned.

Other countries deal with hate crimes; racial, ethnic, and religious intolerance; mental illness; poverty; socio-economic disparity; social injustice; and cultures of violence. But the United States in not an extraordinary outlier in any of these areas. In fact, the rate of violent assault by any means in the United States is lower than the average for the other high income democratic countries of the world.[17] Where the United States is an extreme outlier, though, is in the rate of homicide, which is seven times higher in the United States than the average for the other high income democratic countries of the world, driven by a gun homicide rate that is 25 times higher,[18] and driven in turn by the extremely lax gun control laws in the United States as compared with all other high income democratic countries[19] and the related extraordinarily high number of guns in circulation and ease with which almost anyone can obtain a firearm.[20]

It is appropriate to address the root causes of hate crimes and other forms of violence, as New Zealand has done following the mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch on March 15, 2019, in which 50 people were killed and 50 more wounded.[21] But it is both inappropriate and inexcusable to fail to address the final common pathway by which all mass shootings and other forms of gun violence are committed – with guns.

It took New Zealand parliament just over two weeks to adopt a complete ban on assault rifles by a vote of 119-1 following the Christchurch mass shootings.[22] It took the Australian government just 12 days to agree to ban all semi-automatic rifles following a mass shooting in that country in 1996.[23] It took the United Kingdom a little longer – two years – to decide to ban all handguns after a mass shooting in an elementary school in Dunblane Scotland in 1996.[24] Despite innumerable horrific mass shootings over the past five decades, the United States has failed to enact gun control regulations that come even close to being as stringent or effective as the laws in all other high income democratic countries.

It is the position of Americans Against Gun Violence that the United States should adopt a complete ban on civilian ownership of all handguns and all automatic and semi-automatic rifles. In order to ban handguns, we must first overturn the rogue 2008 Hellerdecision[25] in which a narrow 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court reversed over two centuries of legal precedent, including four prior Supreme Court decisions,[26] in ruling that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep a handgun in the home. Until we adopt stringent gun control regulations comparable to those in other high income democratic countries, we should not ask ourselves why our country continues to suffer from an epidemic of gun violence, but rather why we fail to take the obvious steps necessary to stop this epidemic.

Note: Click on this link for a downloadable version of this press release in PDF format.

References

[1] Chris Nichols, “How Is a ‘Mass Shooting’ Defined?,” PolitiFact California, October 4, 2017, https://www.politifact.com/california/article/2017/oct/04/mass-shooting-what-does-it-mean/.

[2] William J. Krouse and Daniel J. Richardson, “Mass Murder with Firearms: Incidents and Victims, 1999-2013” (Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, 2015).

[3] “Mass Shootings,” Gun Violence Archive, 2018, http://www.shootingtracker.com/.

[4] Jill Cowan, “What to Know About the Poway Synagogue Shooting,” The New York Times, April 29, 2019, sec. U.S., https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/29/us/synagogue-shooting.html.

[5] Sarah Meehan, “West Baltimore Neighbors Lament Shooting at Cookout That Killed One, Injured Seven,” baltimoresun.com, accessed April 29, 2019, https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/crime/bs-md-ci-cookout-shooting-follow-20190429-story.html.

[6] “Mass Shootings.”

[7] Krouse and Richardson, “Mass Murder with Firearms.”

[8] “Fatal Injury Data | WISQARS | Injury Center | CDC,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accessed September 11, 2016, http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/fatal.html.

[9] “NonFatal Data | WISQARS | Injury Center | CDC,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accessed September 11, 2016, https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/nonfatal.html.

[10] “Community Profile | Poway, CA - Official Website,” City of Poway, California, April 29, 2019, https://poway.org/576/Community-Profile.

[11] Amy Taxin and Christopher Weber, “Rabbi Says Gun ‘miraculously Jammed’ in California Attack,” AP NEWS, April 29, 2019, https://apnews.com/14d2196c6d584b1287bc862a0e53c00a.

[12] Taxin and Weber.

[13] Luke Duncan and Ian Broadwater, “‘Neighborhoods Are Crying out’: Baltimore Has Highest Homicide Rate of U.S. Big Cities,” baltimoresun.com, September 25, 2018, https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/crime/bs-md-ci-fbi-data-20180924-story.html.

[14] Meehan, “West Baltimore Neighbors Lament Shooting at Cookout That Killed One, Injured Seven.”

[15] David McFadden, “No Arrests Day after Chaotic Shooting Attack in Baltimore,” Washington Post, April 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/police-7-shot-1-fatally-in-latest-baltimore-violence/2019/04/28/0426ab74-6a15-11e9-bbe7-1c798fb80536_story.html.

[16] Meehan, “West Baltimore Neighbors Lament Shooting at Cookout That Killed One, Injured Seven.”

[17] “Assault Rate in OECD Countries: 2013 or Latest Year Available, % of Adults Assaulted in the Past 12 Months,” OECD, accessed September 18, 2016, https://figure.nz/chart/yd9BelUz6xKnvNpW.

[18] Erin Grinshteyn and David Hemenway, “Violent Death Rates: The US Compared with Other High-Income OECD Countries, 2010,” The American Journal of Medicine 129, no. 3 (March 1, 2016): 266–73, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2015.10.025.

[19] “Gun Law and Policy: Firearms and Armed Violence, Country by Country,” GunPolicy.org, accessed December 3, 2017, http://www.gunpolicy.org/.

[20] Max Fisher and Josh Keller, “What Explains U.S. Mass Shootings? International Comparisons Suggest an Answer,” The New York Times, November 7, 2017, sec. Americas, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/07/world/americas/mass-shootings-us-international.html.

[21] The New York Times, “New Zealand Shooting Live Updates: Attack on Christchurch Mosques Leaves 49 Dead,” The New York Times, March 15, 2019, sec. World, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/15/world/asia/new-zealand-shooting.html.

[22] Josh Hafner, “Gun Control Bill in New Zealand Passes in Early Vote Following Attacks,” USA Today, April 2, 2019, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2019/04/02/gun-control-bill-new-zealand-vote-parliament-mosque-attacks/3341240002/.

[23] Rebecca Peters, “Rational Firearm Regulation: Evidence-Based Gun Laws in Australia,” in Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), 195–204; Philip Alpers, “The Big Melt: How One Democracy Changed after Scrapping a Third of Its Firearms,” in Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), 205–11.

[24] Michael J. North, “Gun Control in Great Britain after the Dunblane Shootings,” in Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013), 185–93.

[25] District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 US (Supreme Court 2008).

[26] United States v. Cruikshank, 92 US (Supreme Court 1876); Presser v. Illinois, 116 US (Supreme Court 1886); U.S. v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939) (n.d.); Lewis v. United States, No. 55 (U.S. 1980).

Apr 02,2019

Americans Against Gun Violence Condemns District Court Judge’s Ruling in Duncan v. Becerra Invalidating California High Capacity Magazine Ban

AAGunV in the News, News about Gun Violence|

AR-15 rifle with high capacity magazine

Sacramento California, April 2, 2019: Americans Against Gun Violence condemns the ruling by District Court Judge Roger T. Benitez on March, 29, 2019, in the case of Virginia Duncan et al v. Xavier Becerra, in his official capacity as Attorney General of the State of California.

 California voters approved Proposition 63, which included a ban on ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds, by almost a two to one margin (63% yes to 37% no) in November of 2016. Before the date that the ban was due to go into effect, the California Rifle and Pistol Association and certain individuals, including Virginia Duncan, filed a lawsuit to block enactment of the high capacity magazine ban. Judge Roger Benitez, appointed by President George W. Bush, granted a temporary injunction against the high capacity magazine ban on June 29, 2017. On March 29, 2019, in an 86 page opinion that reads more like a gun lobby manifesto than the carefully reasoned opinion of an objective jurist, Judge Benitez ruled that the injunction was permanent.

In his ruling, Judge Benitez cites three anecdotal cases in which it is alleged that law-abiding citizens could have better defended themselves if they’d had high capacity magazines. According to the footnotes, one case was reported in the Jacksonville Times-Union on July 18, 2000. No such article can be found on the Florida based newspaper’s website archives. In the second case, which occurred in Gwinnett County, Georgia, in September 2016, a woman shot and killed a home invader using a handgun without a high capacity magazine. In the third case, which occurred in Loganville, Georgia, in January of 2013, a woman shot and critically wounded a burglar using a revolver. The burglar, who was unarmed, thought that the house was unoccupied and pleaded with the woman to stop shooting him as he lay on the floor.

While citing these three cases over the past 19 years as evidence in support of the need for civilian ownership of high capacity magazines, including one case in Florida for which no documentation can be found and two cases in Georgia in which high capacity magazines were not an issue, Judge Benitez makes no mention of the multiple mass shootings that have been committed in California with semi-automatic firearms capable of accepting high capacity magazines. These shootings include, but are not limited to, the mass shooting at Cal State Fullerton on July 12, 1976, in which 7 people were killed and 2 wounded; the mass shooting at Grover Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego on January 29, 1979, in which the principal and a custodian were killed and 8 children and a police officer were wounded; the mass shooting at a MacDonald’s restaurant in San Ysidro on July 18, 1984, in which 21 people were killed and 19 wounded; the mass shooting at the Electronic Systems Laboratory in Sunnyvale on February 16, 1988, in which 7 people were killed and 4 wounded; the mass shooting at Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton on January 17, 1989, in which 5 children were killed and 32 children were wounded; the mass shooting at the Petit and Martin Law Firm in San Francisco on July 1, 1993, in which 8 people were killed and 6 wounded; the mass shooting at the Goleta Post Office on January 30, 2006, in which 7 people were killed; the mass shooting in San Bernardino on December 2, 2015, in which 14 people were killed and 24 wounded; the mass shooting at Rancho Tehama Reserve on November 13-14, 2017, in which 5 people were killed and 11 wounded; and the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks on November 7, 2018, in which 12 people were killed and 1 was wounded. Instead of mentioning any of these California mass shootings, Judge Benitez describes mass shootings committed with firearms capable of accepting high capacity magazines as being “exceedingly rare.”

Judge Benitez fails to acknowledge the enormous body of evidence, including studies published in the public health and law enforcement literature, documenting that a gun in the home is far more likely to be used to kill, injure, or intimidate a household member than to protect against a home invader. This literature includes numerous studies documenting the fact that the presence of a gun in the home is an independent risk factor for the occurrence of a homicide or a suicide in the home. Instead, Judge Benitez cites a study claiming that there are “2.2 to 2.5 million defensive gun uses by civilians” annually in the United States, including “340,000 to 400,000 defensive gun uses” in situations in which “defenders believed they had almost certainly saved a life by using the gun.” Judge Benitez fails to acknowledge, however, that the study he cites was a telephone survey in which most of the respondents were white males living in southern states; that the estimate of 2.5 million defensive gun uses annually is an extrapolation from the fact that 66 out of 4,977 respondents (1.3%) reported over the telephone that they had used a gun defensively in the past year; and that not a single one of the reported defensive gun uses was confirmed through follow-up with law enforcement agencies or by any other means. Judge Benitez also fails to acknowledge that using the same type of telephone survey methodology, more Americans report having had contact with space aliens over the past year than having used a gun defensively.

Judge Benitez claims that civilian ownership of high capacity magazines is protected by the Second Amendment, and that the Second Amendment was adopted, in part, as “a check against tyranny” and “against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers, and as a necessary and efficient means of regaining rights when temporarily overturned by usurpation.” This interpretation of the Second Amendment, known as the “insurrectionist idea,” has been thoroughly discredited. The Second Amendment states, in its entirety:

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Judge Benitez would not allow individuals who disagree with his rulings to enter his courtroom armed with assault rifles equipped with high capacity magazines, and it is equally absurd to imply that the founders of the United States would include an amendment to the U.S. Constitution intended to allow individuals who disagree with their elected officials to assassinate them and violently overthrow the government.

Finally, citing the Supreme Court’s 2008 Heller decision, Judge Benitez claims that civilian ownership of high capacity magazines is a part of an individual right to own guns “for protection” conferred by the Second Amendment. Judge Benitez fails to acknowledge, however, that in the 217 years prior to the Heller decision, the Supreme Court had ruled on four separate occasions - and lower courts had confirmed in innumerable other cases - that the Second Amendment did not confer an individual right to own guns. Specifically, in the 1980 case of Lewis v. United States, the late Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun wrote in the majority opinion:

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.”

The late Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger called the misrepresentation of the Second Amendment as guaranteeing an individual right to own guns “one of the greatest pieces of fraud – I repeat the word ‘fraud’ - on the American public by special interests” that he had seen in his lifetime. In the 2008 Heller decision, a narrow 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court became a party to that fraud in ruling that the District of Columbia’s partial handgun ban violated the Second Amendment. In his ruling in Duncan v. Becerra, Judge Benitez takes this fraud to a new level in asserting that the Second Amendment confers not only a constitutional right to keep a handgun in the home, but also a right for individuals to “keep and bear” assault rifles equipped with high capacity magazines.

In summary, Judge Benitez’s ruling in Duncan v. Becerra is an abomination. Americans Against Gun Violence urges California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to immediately appeal this ruling to the full Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. It is further the position of Americans Against Gun Violence that the Heller decision should be overturned in the short term, and that in the long term, a new constitutional amendment should be adopted that clarifies the Second Amendment in a manner consistent with the excerpt above from the Supreme Court’s majority opinion in the 1980 Lewis decision. Finally, it is the position of Americans Against Gun Violence that in order to reduce rates of gun violence in the United States to levels comparable to those in other high income democratic countries – countries in which mass shootings are rare or non-existent and in which the overall rate of gun homicide is, on average,  25 times lower than in our country – we must adopt comparably stringent gun control laws, including complete bans on civilian ownership of handguns and all automatic and semi-automatic rifles. Once assault weapons are banned, the issue of banning the magazines that feed these weapons would become moot.

Note: Click on this link for a referenced version of this press release in PDF format.

Mar 15,2019

Americans Against Gun Violence Responds to New Zealand Mass Shootings

AAGunV in the News, International Gun Violence Prevention, News about Gun Violence, Press Releases|

Sacramento California, March 15, 2019: Americans Against Gun Violence extends heartfelt sympathy to the friends, family, fellow worshippers, and fellow countrymen and women of the many victims who were killed in the mass shootings at two Muslim mosques in New Zealand yesterday. We also extend sincere wishes for a prompt and complete recovery to the many other victims who suffered non-fatal injuries in the attacks. We condemn the shootings in the strongest terms along with the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, white supremacist ideology that apparently motivated them.

Opponents of gun control in the United States will claim that the mass shootings in New Zealand, a country with much stronger gun control laws than our own country, are evidence that gun control is ineffective. In fact, the New Zealand experience is evidence in support of the effectiveness of stringent gun control laws.

The mass shootings in New Zealand yesterday were the first mass shootings in that country since 1990. Using the narrow definition of a mass shooting as one in which at least four people, not including the shooter, are killed, there have been more than 3 mass shootings per year over the last 53 years in the United States. Using a broader definition of a mass shooting as one in which at least four people, not including the shooter, are killed or injured, there is almost one mass shooting per day in the United States.

As a result of our weaker gun control laws, the estimated number of privately owned guns per capita in the United States is almost four times higher than in New Zealand. The rate of gun homicide in the United States is more than 22 time higher than in New Zealand.

Although New Zealand’s gun control laws are much stronger than those in the United States, they’re not nearly as stringent as the gun control laws in many other high income democratic countries. As noted in a fact sheet prepared by Philip Alpers, Executive Director of GunPolicy.Org and Assistant Professor at the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health, a number of measures to strengthen New Zealand’s gun control laws were proposed following the 1990 mass shooting, but none of these measures was enacted. Had the proposed measures been enacted in New Zealand, it is more likely than not that yesterday’s mass shooting would not have occurred. We anticipate that in the aftermath of yesterday’s tragedy, the government of New Zealand will react swiftly and definitively to strengthen its gun control laws in order to prevent future mass shootings.

In the United States, Congress has not enacted any new gun control legislation since the horrific mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012; at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California in 2015; at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida in 2016; at the open air music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2017; or at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018. The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed H.R.8 and H.R.1112, bills to expand background checks for gun purchases, but it is unlikely that the Senate will pass similar measures, and neither H.R.8 nor H.R.1112 comes close to being as stringent as current gun control laws in New Zealand. We should not be surprised when the next horrific mass shooting occurs in our own country.

Americans Against Gun Violence calls for the urgent adoption of stringent gun control laws in the United States comparable to the laws that have long been in effect in most other high income democratic countries of the world. Specifically, we call for a complete ban on civilian ownership of all handguns and all automatic and semi-automatic rifles; for universal registration of all firearms and licensing of all gun owners; and for placing the burden of proof for firearm purchases on the person seeking to acquire a gun to show why he or she needs one and that he or she can handle one safely, not on society to prove that he or she meets certain narrow criteria for being prohibited from possessing a gun. In order to adopt such stringent gun control laws, we must overturn the rogue 2008 Heller decision, in which a narrow 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court reversed 217 years of legal precedent in ruling for the first time in U.S. history that the Second Amendment conferred even a limited right for an individual own a gun unrelated to service in a well regulated militia.

Click on this link for a fully referenced version of this press release in PDF format.

Jan 14,2019

The Tragic, Preventable Death of Deputy Natalie Corona

AAGunV in the News, Press Releases|

Deputy Natalie Corona

Americans Against Gun Violence extends heartfelt sympathy to the family, friends, and colleagues of Davis California Police Officer Natalie Corona who was shot and killed in the line of duty on January 10, 2019. Deputy Corona was investigating a traffic accident when a man on a bicycle approached her from behind and shot and killed her with a semi-automatic handgun. Deputy Corona was 22 years old at the time of her death and had just begun working as a police officer with the Davis Police Department in December of 2018. She had first started volunteering with the department, though, when she graduated from high school, intent on following in the footsteps of her father who is a retired police officer.

The alleged gunman, 48 year old Kevin Limbaugh, later shot and killed himself.  Limbaugh had no reported history of mental illness, but he had been recently convicted of a violent misdemeanor after punching a coworker in the face, and after his death, investigators found a letter lying on his bed indicating that he was suffering from the paranoid delusion that the Davis Police Department had been “hitting” him with “ultrasonic waves.”

While Americans Against Gun Violence joins many others in mourning the death of Deputy Corona, we believe that expressions of sympathy are inadequate responses to her death. We also disagree with those who would claim that her death was not preventable.

Deputy Corona is the second California police officer to be shot and killed in less than two weeks. Corporal Ronil Singh of the Newman, California Police Department was shot and killed with a handgun by a driver he had pulled over for suspected drunk driving on December 27, 2018. Nationwide, 52 U.S. law enforcement officers were fatally shot in 2018. The fatal shooting of police officers by civilians occurs rarely in the other high income democratic countries of the world. The rates of mental illness in these other countries are comparable to the rate in the United States, and the overall rates of violent assaults in most of these countries are higher than in the United States. The difference between other high income democratic countries of the world and the United States is that all other high income democratic countries have far more stringent gun control laws and far lower rates of civilian gun ownership. In particular, civilian ownership of handguns is either completely banned or strictly regulated in the other high income democratic countries of the world.

Americans Against Gun Violence calls for the urgent adoption of stringent gun control laws in the United States comparable to the laws that have long been in effect in every other high income democratic country of the world – countries in which not only are officer involved shootings rare, but mass shootings are rare or non-existent, and the average rate of gun homicide is 25 times lower than in our own country. Such laws include stringent restrictions, if not complete bans, on civilian ownership of handguns and all automatic and semi-automatic rifles. Until we adopt such laws, we shouldn’t be satisfied with mourning the victims of gun violence. Rather, we should ask ourselves why we don’t take the obvious steps necessary to prevent these killings from occurring in the first place.

Note: Click on this link for a referenced version of this press release in PDF format.

Oct 29,2018

Americans Against Gun Violence Responds to Pittsburgh Synagogue Mass Shooting: Condemning Anti-Semitism is Not Enough

AAGunV in the News, Press Releases|

Americans Against Gun Violence extends heartfelt sympathy to the friends, family, and fellow synagogue members of the victims who were killed in the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue on October 17, 2018. We also send sincere wishes for a prompt and complete recovery to the victims who were wounded. We condemn the shooting and the anti-Semitism that motivated it in the strongest terms – but we don’t stop there.

Americans Against Gun Violence calls for the urgent adoption of stringent gun control laws in the United States comparable to the laws that have long been in effect in every other high income democratic country of the world – countries in which mass shootings are rare or non-existent, and in which the average rate of gun homicide is 25 times lower than in our own country. Such laws include stringent restrictions, if not complete bans, on civilian ownership of handguns and all automatic and semi-automatic rifles. Until we adopt such laws, we shouldn’t be satisfied with condemning the motivation behind horrific mass shootings. Rather, we should ask ourselves why we don’t take the obvious steps necessary to prevent them.

Oct 17,2018

Americans Against Gun Violence Second Annual Fall Dinner, Saturday, November 10, in Sacramento, California

AAGunV in the News, Events, Uncategorized|

Americans Against Gun Violence is holding its Second Annual Fall Dinner on the evening of Saturday, November 10. The dinner will be held in conjunction with the Sacramento Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility again this year at the DoubleTree by Hilton, 2001 Point West Way, in Sacramento.

The cost of the dinner is $50 per person ($25 for students). Reserved tables are available for groups of 10 or more. Chicken and vegetarian (including vegan) entrees are available. (The salmon option is no longer available as of November 5.) There will be a no-host bar inside the banquet room. Doors open at 6:00 PM for check-in and social hour, dinner begins at 7:00 PM, and the program begins at 8:00. Advance reservations are required. (Reservations are now closed.)

The Australian physician, Dr. Tilman Ruff, will be the keynote speaker at the dinner. Dr. Ruff is the co-founder of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and co-president of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. ICAN was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for the key role that it played in getting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons passed by a vote of 122-1 in the United Nations General Assembly in July of 2017.

Although the focus of Dr. Ruff’s keynote address will be the ongoing threat of nuclear weapons, Americans Against Gun Violence president Dr. Bill Durston will also be talking at the dinner about the other end of the spectrum of weapons of mass destruction – small arms – with an emphasis on the recent mass shootings at a Pittsburgh synagogue and a California nightclub and the example that Australia provides for taking a swift and definitive response to such tragedies to prevent them from recurring over and over again. The program will also feature a presentation by the 2018 Americans Against Gun Violence High School Essay Contest winner.

Oct 09,2018

Dr. Durston to Speak at AfriPeace Foundation Benefit Dinner October 13

AAGunV in the News, Events|

Americans Against Gun Violence president, Dr. Bill Durston, will be the keynote speaker at the annual AfriPeace Foundation Benefit Dinner on the evening of Saturday, October 13. The dinner is being held in Edwards Plaza of the Country Day School, 2636 Latham Drive, in Sacramento, from 6-9 PM. The event is a fundraiser for the AfriPeace Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, whose mission is to promote peace, non-violence, and justice in Africa and her diaspora with an emphasis on youth education and cross-cultural exchange. Dr. Durston will be speaking on the topic, “Preventing Gun Violence: from Africa to the Americas.”  Tickets for the event are $35 via advance purchase or $40 at the door. The event will also include live music and dance performances, Ethiopian cuisine, and a silent auction to benefit the AfriPeace Foundation.

Jun 29,2018

Americans Against Gun Violence Responds to Mass Shooting at Capital Gazette Newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland

Press Releases|

Sacramento, California, June 29, 2018: Americans Against Gun Violence extends heartfelt sympathy to the families, friends, and colleagues of the five people killed, including the newspaper editor, three journalists, and another staff member, in the mass shooting on June 28, 2018, at the office of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland. At the same time, we agree with the statement by the late Senator Thomas Dodd of Connecticut who said in a press release and a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate 50 years ago:

Pious condolences will no longer suffice….Quarter measures and half measures will no longer suffice….The time has now come that we must adopt stringent gun control legislation comparable to the legislation in force in virtually every civilized country of the world.

The regular occurrence of mass shootings is eminently preventable. The United States is the only high income democratic country in the world in which such mass shootings occur on a regular basis. The overall homicide rate in the United States is 10 times higher than the average rate in other high income democratic countries, driven by a gun homicide rate that is 25 times higher. The reasons for the extraordinarily high rate of gun violence in the United States are clear. Our country’s rates of mental illness and substance abuse are comparable to the rates in other high income democratic countries. We do not have a more violent society in general. Our rate of assault by any means is lower than the assault rate in most other developed countries. The reasons for our extraordinarily high rate of gun violence are our extraordinarily lax gun control laws as compared with all other high income democratic countries, the associated extraordinarily high number of guns in circulation in our country, and what Senator Dodd referred to 50 years ago as “the ridiculous ease” with which almost anyone in our country can acquire almost any kind of a gun.

In every other high income democratic country of the world, the burden of proof is on the person seeking to acquire a gun to show why he or she needs one, and that he or she is of good character and able to handle a gun safely; not on society to prove why he or she should not have one. Moreover, recognizing that there is no net protective value from civilian gun ownership, most other developed countries do not accept “self-defense” as a reason for having a gun. The alleged shooter in the Capital Gazette mass shooting, Jarrod Ramos, had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment of a young woman who refused his advances in 2011. He filed an unsuccessful defamation of character lawsuit against the Capital Gazette after the Gazette published a critical – but accurate – account of his conviction. Ramos subsequently made numerus threats against Gazette staff on social media. He was nevertheless able to legally purchase the pump action shotgun he used in the Capital Gazette mass shooting under lax federal and Maryland state gun laws. A person with this background almost certainly would not have been able to acquire a gun in any other high income democratic country in the world.

Other high income democratic countries have reacted swiftly and definitively to prevent mass shootings. For example, following a mass shooting committed with assault rifles in the resort town of Port Arthur, Australia, in 1996, the Australian government took just 13 days to agree to ban civilian ownership not only of all automatic and semi-automatic rifles, but also of all pump-action shotguns of the type used by Ramos in the Capital Gazette mass shooting yesterday and by Dimitrios Pagourtzis in the Santa Fe High School mass shooting in May of this year. There have been no further mass shootings in Australia since 1996. Despite scores of horrific mass shootings in the United States over the past half century, the U.S. federal government has failed to take any definitive action to prevent these massacres from recurring on a regular basis.

It is the position of Americans Against Gun Violence that the United States should 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. If such laws had already been in place, it’s exceedingly unlikely that the Capital Gazette mass shooting would have occurred. Until such laws are in place, when the next horrific mass shooting occurs in our country, we shouldn’t ask ourselves why these tragedies keep occurring. Rather, we should ask ourselves why we fail to take the obvious steps necessary to prevent them.

Click on this link for a fully referenced version of this press release in PDF format.

Jun 13,2018

Presenting the Winners of the 2018 Americans Against Gun Violence National High School Essay Contest

AAGunV in the News|

The prompt for the 2018 Americans Against Gun Violence National High School Essay Contest was the following statement made by the late Senator Thomas Dodd of Connecticut in a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate on June 11, 1968:

The time has now come that we must adopt stringent gun control legislation comparable to the legislation in force in virtually every civilized country in the world.

The contest was open to all high school students in the United States and its territories. The deadline for students to enter the contest was May 6, 2018. Winners were chosen by more than 30 Americans Against Gun Violence supporters who read and rated the students' essays blinded to any student identifying information. Americans Against Gun Violence is awarding a total of $15,000 to the twelve winners. Tax-deductible donations to fund the annual essay contest can be made via the Join/Donate page of this website.

Because of the personal attacks to which some high school gun control activists have been subjected in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February of this year, we gave essay contest winners the option of withholding their names and high school affiliations when their essays were published. We are pleased to present the winning essays in the 2018 Americans Against Gun Violence National High School Essay Contest below. We regret, however, that as a result of the toxic political culture that currently exists in our country surrounding the gun control issue, several students did not feel safe in having their names and high school affiliations published. It is part of the mission of Americans Against Gun Violence to change this culture.

 

First Place Winner ($3,000 award)

(Student Name and High School withheld at student's request)

Gun Control Lessons from Around the World: The Need for Reform in US Policy and Perspective....Over 1,600 mass shootings since Sandy Hook, the United States has still been unable to pass significant gun control laws....Modernized gun reform laws are long overdue in our nation, and it is time for the US to catch up to the contemporary laws of Canada, Britain, Norway, and countless other countries....Read the full essay

 

Second Place Winner ($2,500 Award)

Lucas Suter

Placer High School, Auburn, California

The Weight of Firearms....I'm tired of watching the news, seeing sobbing relatives of someone shot to death. I'm tired of knowing that there are thousands more whose sobbing relatives aren't on television. And I know we are all tired of living with the weight on our shoulders of the millions more who will be killed in our lifetimes....Read the full essay

 

Third Place Winner ($2,000 Award)

Katherine McCabe

Pioneer High School, Woodland, California

....So this is why we're walking out. We're scared, we're angry, and we want change. ....1,077 people have died in mass shootings since the University of Texas mass shooting in 1966. Legislation hasn't changed since that fateful day, and now, we're demanding that it does....Read the full essay

 

$1,000 Award Winner

(Student Name and High School withheld at students' request)

And here we are - 650,000 gun related homicides; more than twice that many wounded; 130,000 children and teen lives lost within that 50 year time span [since the speech by Senator Dodd] - yet, the quote is as relevant today as it was 50 years ago....People who deal with addiction say that they need to hit rock bottom in order to understand that they need to change. The question is, what is the rock bottom to have the US address its gun addiction? Read the full essay

 

$1,000 Award Winner

(Student Name withheld at students' request)

Poolesville High School, Poolesville, Maryland

Fifty Years....Fifty years later, the same words are declared but by a different generation. His voice echoes in our hearts and minds as Americans continue to look toward our government and toward each other for the same essential protection that Senator Dodd asserted the urgency of 50 years ago. Read the full essay

 

$1,000 Award Winner

Mila Opalenik

Amador High School, Sutter Creek, California

Where Is the Controversy? ...Why is it that with all the information available, people are still uninformed about the success that other countries have had with gun control measures that don't involve taking away all guns? ...Countries like Australia and Canada have had enormous success with gun control and safety measures while still allowing gun ownership, so why have we not followed in their footsteps? Read the full essay

 

$1,000 Award Winner

Luis Orozco

Lodi High School, Lodi, California

...[Senator Dodd's quote] remains an inspiration that the fight for stricter gun laws will not go out….I feel very strongly about this movement. This is why I organized my school's walkout on April 20th. Receiving a detention was a badge of honor for me for expressing my rights and beliefs about gun reform....Read the full essay

 

$1,000 Award Winner

(Student Name and High School withheld at students' request)

More of the Same Until We Change...According to a 2016 study published in the American Journal of Medicine, the United States gun homicide rate is 25 times higher than any other high-income country, which is not surprising given that America has the least stringent gun laws in the developed world...America needs to join the modern world and follow the advice of Senator Dodd. "We must adopt stringent gun control legislation," and we must do it now....Read the full essay

 

$1,000 Award Winner

(Student Name High School withheld at students' request)

Why are there two fire drills today, and is that fireworks we hear in the distance? We bustle though the crowd and we are still fine, until we get frantic texts from our friends and family asking if we are alive. It is then that the news reaches us, and the fear for our lives comes upon us. An active shooter is at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School....Read the full essay

 

$1,000 Award Winner

Anahi Ballesteros

Franklin High School, Stockton, California

I was only 12 as I sat in Math class... but then we hear a gun go off. I remember the sounds, the screams, my teacher calling someone on the intercom....I look down at my feet and I see a bullet next to my pink vans....I tried to erase what happened to me, but then Sandy Hook occurred....and since Sandy Hook, there have been at least 1,607 mass shootings, with at least 1,846 people killed and 6,459 wounded. When will it stop? Read the full essay

 

$250 Award Winner

(Student Name High School withheld at students' request)

It's Time for A Change...No other country comes close to the number of mass shootings seen in America annually. We could blame mental health but other countries have mentally ill people too. We could blame violent movies but other countries have violent movies too. We could blame gang violence but other countries have gangs too....Gun control has been proven to work in other countries; It’s time for the United States to make a change....Read the full essay

 

$250 Award Winner

Taylor Motley

Mountain View High School, Mesa, Arizona

Why Do I Have To March For My Life?....We have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours planning, organizing, phone-banking, emailing, et cetera, to mobilize action to keep our voices heard....It is sad that a bunch of high schoolers have to do this....Our legislators should have protected us long ago with actual gun control measures - protected us before we had to learn how to act dead so we aren't the next victim in a mass shooting....Read the full essay

May 21,2018

Americans Against Gun Violence Responds to Santa Fe High School Mass Shooting

Press Releases|

Sacramento, California, May 21, 2018: Americans Against Gun Violence extends heartfelt sympathy to the families, friends, classmates, and colleagues of the eight students and two teachers who were mortally wounded during the mass shooting on May 18, 2018, at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas. We also extend our sincere wishes for a prompt and complete recovery to all the other victims of the shooting.

The regular occurrence of mass shootings, including shootings on school campuses, is eminently preventable. The United States is the only high income democratic country in the world in which such mass shootings occur on a regular basis. The overall gun homicide rate in the United States is 25 times higher than the average rate in other high income democratic countries. The gun homicide rate for U.S. high school aged youth is 82 times higher. The reasons for the extraordinarily high rate of gun violence in the United States are not higher rates of mental illness or substance abuse, not a higher level of socioeconomic disparity, and not a more violent society in general. The reasons for our extraordinarily high rate of gun violence are our extraordinarily lax gun control laws as compared with all other high income democratic countries, the associated extraordinarily high number of guns in circulation in our country, and what the late Senator Thomas Dodd of Connecticut referred to 50 years ago in a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate as “the ridiculous ease” with which almost anyone in our country can acquire almost any kind of a gun.

Other high income democratic countries have reacted swiftly and definitively to mass shootings. Following a mass shooting in the resort town of Port Arthur in 1996 committed with assault rifles, the Australian government took just 13 days to decide to ban civilian ownership not only of all automatic and semi-automatic rifles, but also of all pump-action shotguns of the type used in the Santa Fe mass shooting. The legislation also included strict regulations concerning storage of guns, which would have prevented the Santa Fe mass shooting. There have been no further mass shootings in Australia since 1966. Following a mass shooting at the Dunblane Elementary School in Scotland committed with handguns in 1996, Great Britain, which already had stringent regulations on civilian ownership of handguns, passed legislation within two years to ban handguns completely. A handgun was also used in the Santa Fe mass shooting. The rate of gun related deaths in Great Britain is one fiftieth the rate in the United States, and there have been no further mass shootings in Britain involving handguns since the handgun ban was enacted. Despite scores of horrific mass shootings on U.S. school campuses over the past half century, the U.S. federal government has failed to take any definitive action to prevent these massacres from recurring on a regular basis.

In the same speech on June 11, 1968, in which he referred to the “ridiculous ease” of acquiring guns in our country, Senator Dodd stated:

Pious condolences will no longer suffice….Quarter measures and half measures will no longer suffice….The time has now come that we must adopt stringent gun control legislation comparable to the legislation in force in virtually every civilized country in the world.

When the next horrific mass shooting occurs in our country, we shouldn’t ask ourselves why these tragedies keep occurring. Rather, we should ask ourselves why we choose not to prevent them.

 

Click on this link for a fully referenced version of this press release in PDF format.

Apr 24,2018

Americans Against Gun Violence Responds to Nashville Mass Shooting

Press Releases|

Sacramento, California, April 24, 2018: Americans Against Gun Violence extends heartfelt sympathy to the families, friends, and colleagues of the four young people who were killed in the mass shooting on Sunday, April 22, at the “Waffle House” restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee. We also extend our sincere wishes for a prompt and complete recovery to the other two young people who were seriously wounded in the shooting. We applaud the bravery of the unarmed bystander, James Shaw, who was also injured as he wrestled the shooter’s assault rifle way from him.

Mr. Shaw’s courageous act demonstrates the deceit in the gun lobby’s claim that “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” This is not the first time that an unarmed bystander has stopped a mass shooting in progress. In a study of 160 active shooter incidents between 2000 and 2013, the FBI found 21 cases in which unarmed bystanders disabled the shooter and only one case in which an armed civilian other than a paid security guard or off-duty police officer stopped the shooting.

The alleged shooter in the Nashville killings, 29 year old Travis Reinking, had reportedly demonstrated signs of serious mental illness on multiple occasions. The AR-15 style assault rifle that he used in the mass shooting had at one point been taken away from him by law enforcement officers and given to his father for “safe-keeping.” His father reportedly gave the rifle back to Reinking at some point prior to the Nashville shooting. At the time of this writing, it is unclear if any state or federal law was broken in the transfer of the assault rifle back from father to son.

The fact that Travis Reinking was able to ever obtain an assault rifle demonstrates what the late Senator Thomas Dodd (D-Connecticut) described in 1968 as "the ridiculous ease" with which almost anyone in the United States can get almost any kind of gun. The rate of mental illness in the United States is comparable to the rates in other high income democratic countries of the world, but the rate of gun homicide in the USA is 25 times higher than the average rate in those other democratic countries, and the USA is the only high income democratic country in the world in which mass shootings occur on a regular basis.

It is the position of Americans Against Gun Violence that there is no legitimate civilian use for high powered semi-automatic rifles of the kind used by Travis Reinking and numerous others to commit mass shootings in recent years. We believe that the United States should follow the example of Australia and move rapidly to ban all civilian ownership of such weapons. We further believe that the United States should heed the advice of Senator Thomas Dodd who said in June of 1968:

“Pious condolences will no longer suffice….Quarter measures and half measures will no longer suffice….The time has now come that we must adopt stringent gun control legislation comparable to the legislation in force in virtually every civilized country of the world.*”

Such gun control legislation includes stringent restriction, if not complete bans, on civilian ownership of handguns and all automatic and semi-automatic rifles. Such gun control legislation also requires placing the burden on anyone seeking to obtain a gun to show good reason why he or she needs one rather than placing the burden on society to prove that he or she should not have one.

*The final sentence in this quotation is the prompt for the Americans Against Gun Violence National High School Essay Contest.

Note: Click on this link for a fully referenced version of this press release in PDF format.

Mar 29,2018

Americans Against Gun Violence Announces the Opening of Our 2018 National High School Essay Contest

AAGunV in the News, Events, Uncategorized|

The Americans Against Gun Violence 2018 National High School Essay Contest is now open to all high school students in the United States and its territories. A total of $15,000 will be awarded to the 12 contest winners. The prompt for the contest is the following quotation from the late Senator Thomas Dodd of Connecticut, who said in a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate on June 11, 1968:

“The time has now come that we must adopt stringent gun control legislation comparable to the legislation in force in virtually every civilized country in the world.”

The deadline for students to enter the contest is 11:59 PM on Sunday, May 6. (The entry form for this contest was closed on May 7.) (more…)

Mar 27,2018

Protests at March 27 Sacramento City Council Meeting Regarding Officer Involved Shooting

Press Releases|

Sacramento, California, March 27, 2018: Americans Against Gun Violence supports peaceful protest as a legitimate means of achieving social change. It does not, however, support the kind of verbally abusive, physically threatening protest that disrupted the Sacramento City Council meeting on two occasions this evening. The purpose of the meeting was to allow Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn and Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert to report on what they were doing in response to the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, Stephon Clark, by two Sacramento police officers on March 18; and for the City Council to listen to public commentary concerning the shooting. Americans Against Gun Violence president Dr. Bill Durston was present at the meeting and had prepared the following statement, but he and other attendees were prevented from speaking due to the disruptions caused by the protesters.

Mayor Steinberg and Council Members,

My name is Dr. Bill Durston. I’m a former expert marksman in the US Marine Corp, a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and a retired emergency physician. I’m speaking tonight on behalf of Americans Against Gun Violence as the president of this organization.

We’d first like to commend Mayor Steinberg, Chief Hahn, members of the Sacramento Police Department, and members of the community for the restraint that everyone has shown in avoiding any further violence in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Stephon Clark by two police officers on March 18. At the same time, we share the belief of many members of the community that there is reasonable doubt as to whether this shooting was justified.

It’s the position of Americans Against Gun Violence that we have not only the ability, but also the moral responsibility to reduce rates of gun violence in the United States to rates comparable to other high income democratic countries – countries in which mass shootings, shootings of civilians by police, and shootings of police by civilians are rare or non-existent, and in which overall rates of gun violence are one tenth the rate in our country. To achieve such dramatic reductions, we need to adopt stringent gun control laws comparable to the laws in those other democratic countries. We further believe that stringent regulation of civilian gun ownership should be accompanied by stringent regulation of the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers.

The Stephon Clark shooting raises reasonable doubts as to whether the Sacramento Police Department has stringent regulations on the use of lethal force by its officers, and if it does, whether officers are sufficiently trained to abide by those regulations.

We would like to propose the formation of a task force that includes strong representation from civil society, including representation from Americans Against Gun Violence, to review standards for the use of lethal force by the Sacramento Police Department as well as to consider ways to reduce overall rates of gun violence in our community, our state, and our nation.

Thank you.

Mar 20,2018

CalPERS Board Votes Against Divesting from Assault Weapons Dealers

Press Releases|

Americans Against Gun Violence is disappointed that the Investment Committee Board of Directors of the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) voted on Monday not to study a proposal by California State Treasurer John Chiang to divest CalPERS pension funds from businesses throughout the country that are engaged in the sale of military style assault weapons that are illegal for sale in California. CalPERS had previously divested from the manufacturers of such weapons following the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. CalPERS is the nation’s largest pension fund, with over $350 billion in assets. The portion of those assets that is invested in businesses involved in the sale of guns is currently unknown. Read the full press release

Mar 13,2018

Please Call In as Students Walk Out

AAGunV in the News|

On Wednesday, March 14, high school students across the country are planning to walk out of class and/or engage in other activities to demand the adoption of definitive gun control laws in our country to prevent further mass shootings like the one that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14. The national student action, which was inspired by the activism of the surviving Marjory Stoneman Douglas students, is scheduled to begin at 10 AM in all time zones and to last 17 minutes – one minute for each of the 17 people (14 students and 3 staff) killed in the Parkland mass shooting.

Americans Against Gun Violence has reached out to the students to offer our full support through individual letters to some of the most vocal students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School,  through a press release applauding all the student gun control activists, and through an open letter to all student gun control activists in Dr. Durston's most recent Americans Against Gun Violence President's Message.

In solidarity with the students, we are asking all of our members to please devote at least 17 minutes yourself on Wednesday, March 14 (or some other day this week that your schedule allows) to contact your US Senators and your US representative and let them know that you expect them to openly advocate and do everything within their power to enact stringent gun control laws in the United States comparable to the laws that have long been in effect in every other high income democratic country of the world – countries in which mass shootings, including shootings on school campuses, are rare or non-existent, and in which high school aged youth are killed by guns a rate that is 82 times lower than in the USA. Such laws include stringent restrictions, if not complete bans, on civilian ownership of handguns and all automatic and semi-automatic rifles.  Please identify yourself as a member of Americans Against Gun Violence when you make your contacts with your elected officials, and please let them know that you are in full support of the student protests.

Thanks for supporting the students, and thanks for supporting Americans Against Gun Violence. Working together, we will stop the shameful epidemic of gun violence that afflicts our country.

Mar 11,2018

Americans Against Gun Violence Responds to Mass Shooting at California Veterans Home

Press Releases|

Sacramento, California, March 11, 2018: Americans Against Gun Violence extends heartfelt sympathy to the families, friends, and colleagues of Christine Loeber, Jennifer Golick, and Jennifer Gonzales Shusheba, who were shot and killed on Friday, March 9, by a former client who took them hostage at a home for veterans with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Yountville, California. The three women worked as executive director, clinical director, and staff psychologist, respectively, at the home.

The shooter, Albert Wong, who apparently shot and killed himself after murdering the three women, was reported to be a decorated veteran of the U.S. military operations in Afghanistan. He was described by a former Army colleague as, “Hands down, the best soldier we had,” and by a former foster parent as, “A fine young man.”

The mass shooting at the Yountville veterans home was a “small one,” by US standards. In fact, it would not even qualify as a mass shooting by some definitions, which require that there be at least four victims, not including the perpetrator. The shooting obviously has an enormous adverse effect, however, on the lives of the victims, on everyone who knew and loved them, and on the community that they served.

At the same time that we extend our sincere sympathy to all those affected by the shooting, we wish to emphasize that the regular occurrence of such tragedies, which has become the norm in the United States, is preventable, and that expressions of sympathy are not nearly enough. As the late Senator Thomas Dodd of Connecticut stated in 1968:

Pious condolences will no longer suffice. Quarter measures and half measures will no longer suffice. The time has now come that we must adopt stringent gun control legislation comparable to the legislation in force in virtually every civilized country in the world.

California has some of the strongest gun control measures in the United States, and the rate of gun related deaths in California is about 30% lower than the national average.  But the rate of gun related deaths in California is much higher than in any other high income democratic country of the world. For example, the rate of gun related deaths in California is 8.5 times higher than in Australia and 35.8 times higher than in Great Britain.

While California’s gun control laws may be among the strongest in the United States, they would not qualify as even “quarter measures” or “half measures” in any other high income democratic country. Contrary to the laws in other high income democratic countries, no one in California (or in the rest of the United States) needs to show a good reason for having a gun before acquiring one. Instead, to deny a gun purchase, the government must show that the individual meets certain limited criteria for being prohibited from owning a gun, and suffering from PTSD is not one of these criteria. Furthermore, recognizing that there is no net protective value from owning or carrying a gun, most other democratic societies do not accept “self-protection” as a legitimate reason for having a firearm.

In order to prevent future mass shootings, and in order to reduce the extraordinarily high daily number of gun related deaths and injuries in California and the rest of the United States, we must adopt definitive gun control laws comparable to the laws that have long been in place in Australia, Great Britain, and every other high income democratic country of the world. Such laws include stringent regulation, if not complete bans, on civilian ownership of handguns and all automatic and semi-automatic rifles. Until we adopt such laws, we should not be surprised when the next horrific mass shooting occurs.

Click on this link for a fully referenced version of this press release in PDF format.

Feb 19,2018

Americans Against Gun Violence Applauds Student Gun Control Activists Who Are Speaking Out in Aftermath of Mass Shooting

Press Releases|

Sacramento, California, February 19, 2018: Americans Against Gun Violence applauds the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and other high schools across the country who are speaking out concerning the need for definitive gun control laws to protect them and their fellow classmates from horrific mass shootings like the one that occurred on February 14, 2018, in Parkland, Florida. Below are excerpts from some of the students’ statements.

Condolences and saying we’re so sorry for your loss is obviously important, but what we need at this point is not to say that anymore because there shouldn’t be any more people that die. We need to take action. (David Hogg, student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, during interview on PBS News Hour, February 15, 2018)

We can't ignore the issues of gun control that this tragedy raises. And so, I'm asking -- no, demanding -- we take action now. Why? Because at the end of the day, the students at my school felt one shared experience -- our politicians abandoned us by failing to keep guns out of schools. But this time, my classmates and I are going to hold them to account. This time we are going to pressure them to take action. (Cameron Kasky, student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in op-ed entitled “My Generation Won’t Stand for This,” posted on CNN, February 16, 2018)

We need to prevent this from ever happening again. Because you see it on the news and you say, “That’s not my kid, it’s not my problem.” Well, what if one day it is your kid that gets shot? Then are you going to finally care? Then will something finally get done? (Lexi Gendron, student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in interview on NBC News, February 17, 2018)

To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you… Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this, we call [slang term for nonsense]. They say tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence. We call [slang term for nonsense]… They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call [slang term for nonsense]. That us kids don't know what we're talking about, that we're too young to understand how the government works. We call [slang term for nonsense]. (Emma Gonzalez, student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, as reported on CNN, February 17, 2018)

The points that these students are making are true; their demands for the urgent adoption of definitive gun control laws are reasonable; and their calls for the ouster of elected officials who place the interests of the gun lobby above the safety of American children are entirely appropriate. We are reaching out to these students to offer them our full support.

Note: Click on this link for a PDF version of this press release.

Feb 15,2018

Americans Against Gun Violence Responds to Parkland, Florida High School Mass Shooting

Press Releases|

Sacramento, California, February 15, 2018: Americans Against Gun Violence extends heartfelt sympathy to the families, friends, classmates, and colleagues of all the students and staff who were mortally wounded during the mass shooting yesterday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. We also extend our heartfelt sympathy and sincere wishes for a speedy and complete recovery to all the other victims of the shooting.

The United States is the only high income democratic country in the world in which mass shootings, including shootings on school campuses, occur on a regular basis. There is no mystery as to why regular mass shootings are a uniquely American phenomenon. The reason is what the late Senator Thomas Dodd (D-Connecticut) described in 1968 as "the ridiculous ease" with which almost anyone in our country can get almost any kind of gun. And there's no mystery as to what we need to do to stop the epidemic of gun violence that afflicts our country. To again quote Senator Dodd from 1968, "The time has come that we must adopt stringent gun control legislation comparable to the legislation in force in virtually every civilized country in the world." Unfortunately, the stringent gun control regulations that Senator Dodd called for in 1968 have not been enacted, and since 1968, more US civilians have died of gunshot wounds than all the US soldiers killed in all the wars in which our country has ever been involved.

The main cause of the epidemic of gun violence in our country - the extraordinarily high number of guns in circulation and the associated ease with which almost anyone may acquire a gun - and the obvious steps necessary to stop the epidemic - the adoption of stringent gun control laws comparable to the laws in all other high income democratic countries - are rarely mentioned in coverage of high profile shootings.

It is the position of Americans Against Gun Violence that the United States should adopt stringent gun control laws comparable to the laws that have long been in effect in all other high income democratic countries. Such laws include stringent regulations, if not complete bans, on civilian ownership of handguns and all automatic and semi-automatic rifles. Such laws need not prevent responsible hunters and target shooters from practicing their sports with traditional sporting rifles and shotguns. In order to stringently regulate or ban handguns, the Supreme Court's radical reinterpretation of the Second Amendment in the 2008 Heller decision must be overturned.

Click on this link for a referenced version of this press release in PDF format.

Feb 13,2018

Study shows that U.S. youth are 82 times more likely to die of gun homicide than youth in other countries

News about Gun Violence|

A study published in the journal Health Affairs in January of 2018 reported that during the years 2001-2010, youth ages 15-19 in the United States were 82 times more likely to die of gun homicide than youth in 19 other high income democratic countries (Ashish P. Thakrar et al., “Child Mortality In The US And 19 OECD Comparator Nations: A 50-Year Time-Trend Analysis,” Health Affairs 37, no. 1 (January 2018): 140–49). Data published by Centers for Disease Control show that since 2010, the rate of gun homicide for U.S. youth ages 15-19 has increased another 8%. Data for the other 19 high income democratic countries are not currently available. See the Americans Against Gun Violence President's MessageSacrificing Our Children to the Gods of the Gun Lobbyfor further discussion of the extraordinarily high rate of gun related deaths in U.S. children and youth.

Jan 01,2018

Americans Against Gun Violence Responds to Highlands Ranch, Colorado Mass Shooting

AAGunV in the News, Press Releases|

Sacramento, California, January 1, 2018: Americans Against Gun Violence extends heartfelt sympathy to the family, friends, and colleagues of Deputy Zackari Parrish who was killed in the mass shooting in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, on the morning of December 31, 2017, as he and fellow officers were responding to a domestic disturbance call in an apartment building. We also extend our heartfelt sympathy and sincere wishes for a speedy and complete recovery to the four other law enforcement officers and two civilians who were wounded in the shooting.

The Highlands Ranch mass shooting demonstrates the less publicized aspect of officer involved shootings – cases in which law enforcement officers are shot by civilians in the line of duty. In 2016, the FBI reported that 66 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty, up from 41 officers feloniously killed in 2015.[i] Of the 66 law enforcement officers murdered in the line of duty in 2016, 62 (94%) were killed with guns (37 with handguns, 24 with rifles, and one with a shotgun). The other four slain officers were struck by motor vehicles.

The Highlands Ranch mass shooting also demonstrates one of the fallacies in the argument that civilians should carry guns “for protection.” The “guns for protection” argument fails to take into account the element of surprise involved in criminal assaults. According to initial reports, at least four of the five officers who were shot by the single assailant in the Highlands Ranch incident were taken by surprise and hit by bullets within a matter of seconds, before they could fire their own weapons.[ii] The officers had been trained to anticipate that all suspects may be armed. The County Sheriff, Tony Spurlock, commented after the shooting:

We respond to every call anticipating that everyone has a gun. This is Colorado. Everybody has a gun.

The fact that at least four of the five officers shot in the Highlands Ranch mass shooting were unable to defend themselves with their own weapons is consistent with a previous FBI report that showed that 85% of law enforcement officers killed by guns in the line of duty never fired their own weapons,[iii] and 20% were killed with their own guns.[iv] It was also reported that all of the officers shot in the Highlands Ranch incident, like 82% of the slain officers in the 2016 FBI report,[v] were wearing body armor at the time that they were shot. Given that highly trained law enforcement officers wearing body armor who are shot and killed in the line of duty usually don’t have a chance to even fire their own weapons, it’s unlikely that most civilians will be available to effectively defend themselves with a gun. On the contrary, one study has shown that someone carrying a gun at the time of an assault is four times more likely to be killed than someone who is not carrying a gun.[vi]

The Highlands Ranch mass shooting also adds to enormous body of evidence demonstrating the need for definitive gun control regulations in the United States. The United States is the only high income democratic country in the world in which mass shootings,[vii] shootings of police by civilians, and shootings of civilians by police[viii] occur on a regular basis. Moreover, the overall rate of gun homicide in the United States is 25 times higher than the average rate in other economically advanced democratic countries.[ix] The reasons for the extraordinarily high rates of gun violence in the United States are clear. The United States has by far the most lax gun control laws and the highest rates of gun ownership of any high income democratic country in the world.

It is the position of Americans Against Gun Violence that the United States should adopt stringent gun control laws comparable to the laws that have long been in effect in all other high income democratic countries. Such laws include stringent regulations, if not complete bans, on civilian ownership of handguns and all automatic and semi-automatic rifles. Such laws need not prevent responsible hunters and target shooters from practicing their sports with traditional sporting rifles and shotguns. In order to stringently regulate or ban handguns, the Supreme Court's radical reinterpretation of the Second Amendment in the 2008 Heller decision must be overturned. We further believe that stringent regulation of civilian firearm ownership should be accompanied by stringent regulation of the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers.

Click on this link for a downloadable copy of this press release in PDF format.

References

[i] “FBI Releases 2016 Statistics for Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted in the Line of Duty,” Press Release, Federal Bureau of Investigation, accessed December 31, 2017, https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-releases-2016-statistics-for-law-enforcement-officers-killed-and-assaulted-in-the-line-of-duty.

[ii] Sarah Aarthun and Steve Almasy, “Denver Shooting: Deputy Killed, 6 Wounded by Barricaded Suspect,” CNN, December 31, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/31/us/colorado-shots-fired/index.html.

[iii] “Killed in the Line of Duty: A Study of Felonious Killings of Law Enforcement Officers” (Uniform Crime Reports Section, Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Department of Justice, September 1992), 5, https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/Digitization/139198NCJRS.pdf.

[iv] “Killed in the Line of Duty: A Study of Felonious Killings of Law Enforcement Officers,” 40.

[v] “2016 LEOKA Report Released,” Story, Federal Bureau of Investigation, accessed January 1, 2018, https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2016-leoka-report-released.

[vi] Charles C. Branas et al., “Investigating the Link Between Gun Possession and Gun Assault,” American Journal of Public Health 99, no. 11 (November 1, 2009): 2034–40, https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2008.143099.

[vii] “Mass Shootings: How U.S. Gun Culture Compares with the Rest of the World,” Washington Post, accessed January 1, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/world/mass-shootings/.

[viii] Jamiles Lartey, “By the Numbers: US Police Kill More in Days than Other Countries Do in Years,” The Guardian, June 9, 2015, sec. US news, http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/09/the-counted-police-killings-us-vs-other-countries.

[ix] Erin Grinshteyn and David Hemenway, “Violent Death Rates: The US Compared with Other High-Income OECD Countries, 2010,” The American Journal of Medicine 129, no. 3 (March 1, 2016): 266–73, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2015.10.025.

Dec 07,2017

Americans Against Gun Violence Responds to House Vote on H.R. 38 (Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act)

AAGunV in the News|

Following the mass killing of 20 first grade children and six adult staff in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in December of 2012, former U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was critically wounded herself by a gunshot to the head in a mass shooting in January, 2011, issued the following statement:

In response to a horrific series of shootings that has sown terror in our communities, victimized tens of thousands of Americans, and left one of its own bleeding and near death in a Tucson parking lot, Congress has done something quite extraordinary — nothing at all.

On December 6, 2017, in passing the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (CCR Act), the U.S. House of Representatives once again proved that Congresswoman Giffords’ assessment was too kind. Instead of taking action to stop gun violence, the House of Representatives voted by a margin of 231-198 to facilitate it.

The CCR Act provides that someone who can legally carry a concealed handgun in one state – even if no permit at all is required in that state – can legally carry the concealed gun in every other state in the Union, regardless of the gun laws in the other states.

A committee of the National Academy of Science conducted an extensive review of the effect of concealed carry laws and concluded that the available evidence does not support claims by the gun lobby that allowing private citizens to legally carry concealed weapons reduces crime. On the contrary, the Violence Policy Center has documented over a thousand firearm related killings committed by persons with concealed weapons (CCW) permits since May of 2007, including numerous mass shootings, murder suicides, and  murders of police officers. Another study by the VPC showed that over a five year period, Texas CCW permit holders were arrested for 5,314 crimes, including murder, rape, robbery, child molestation, and kidnapping. Moreover, CCW permit holders were arrested for weapons related crimes at a rate that was 81% higher than the general population. Another study of CCW permit holders in Florida showed that over 1,400 individuals who had pleaded guilty or no contest to felonious crimes had subsequently been granted CCW permits.

There is no credible evidence to support the romantic notion that someone with a concealed handgun is likely to be able to stop a mass shooting in progress. In a study of 160 active shooter incidents between 2000 and 2013, the FBI found only one case in which an armed bystander other than an off duty police officer or a paid security guard stopped the shooter. In 21 cases, unarmed bystanders successfully disabled the shooter. In the aftermath of the mass shooting in which Congresswoman Giffords and 12 others were wounded and six people, including a nine year old girl and a district court judge were killed, a bystander with a concealed handgun nearly shot Ken Veeder, the unarmed man who took down the shooter, Jared Loughner. One of the authors of the FBI report on active shooter incidents, J. Pete Blair, has warned, “The last thing you want to do in an active shooter event is to pull your gun and go looking for the shooter.” Drawing a gun, he warns, increases the chances of being shot and killed by the shooter, by someone else with a concealed handgun, or by police who respond to the incident.

There is also no credible evidence to support the argument that carrying a concealed weapon protects the individual gun owner. In fact, a study of assault victims in Philadelphia showed that someone who was carrying a gun at the time of the assault was more than four times more likely to be killed than someone who was not carrying a gun.

Despite the extensive evidence that carrying concealed handguns confers much greater risk than benefit both to the person carrying the gun and to the general public, the NRA has been remarkably successful in getting states to adopt liberal concealed carry laws. Currently, 11 states don’t require any permit at all for people to carry concealed handguns. Of the other 39 states that do require permits for concealed weapons, 30 have “shall issue” policies that allow authorities little nor no discretion in refusing to issue a permit if the person requesting the permit is not prohibited by state or federal criteria from owning a gun. The other nine states have “may issue” policies under which authorities may refuse a request for concealed weapon permit from a legal gun owner if the authority believes the person requesting the permit doesn’t have a good reason for carrying a concealed handgun or is otherwise at risk for misusing a firearm.

Gun violence has been appropriately called America’s “shameful epidemic.” There is no mystery as to why the United States is the only high income democratic country in the world in which mass shootings occur on a regular basis or why the rate of gun related deaths in our country is 10 times higher than the average in other civilized nations. It’s because of our lax gun control laws. And there’s no mystery regarding what we need to do to stop the epidemic of gun violence in our country. We need to adopt stringent gun control laws comparable to the laws that have long been in place in every other high income democratic country of the world. The 231 members of the House of Representatives who voted to make requirements for carrying a concealed handgun in every state as lax as the requirements in the weakest state should be ashamed.

Nov 27,2017

Letter to the Editor re: What to tell children about school shootings

AAGunV in the News|

An edited version of following letter to the editor regarding the November 14, 2017  Tehama County, California mass shooting, which included a shooting at Rancho Tehama Elementary School, was published in the November 26 issue of the Sacramento Bee.

 

What To Tell Children About Mass Shootings

The two articles in the Sunday Bee concerning the Rancho Tehama Elementary School shooting describe a “family fun day” featuring “pizza and hugs;” security measures such as lockdown drills, high fences, and police on campus; and child counseling as laudable responses. The term, “gun control,” though, is not mentioned in either article, nor is it mentioned that US children are killed by guns at a rate 12 times higher than in the other high income democratic countries; that the US is the only country in which mass shootings occur on a regular basis; that other countries like Britain and Australia responded quickly to mass shootings by banning all handguns (Britain) and banning all semi-automatic rifles (Australia). If school counselors were to be honest with children traumatized by mass shootings, they would tell them to move to some other democratic country where grownups love their children more than their guns.

Bill Durston, MD, President, Americans Against Gun Violence

Nov 15,2017

More about the Coalition Against Gun Violence of Santa Barbara County

More about other organizations|

The Coalition Against Gun Violence of Santa Barbara County lists the following "Agenda for Action" on its website.

  • To raise awareness throughout the entire community — children, teens and adults — that the spreading epidemic of gun violence is a menace to us all, and that combatting it requires each of us to take a stand;
  • To counter advertising campaigns by the gun lobby and gun manufacturers encouraging gun acquisition through education about the risks associated with gun ownership;
  • To expose the culture and impact of gun violence and its glorification in all media, including movies, TV, videos, music, magazines, and electronic games, and to work for remedies;
  • To encourage legislators at all levels of government to make the effective prevention of gun violence a high priority.
  • To work with local law enforcement agencies and organizations that focus on crime prevention;
  • To support state and national violence prevention organizations to eliminate gun violence;
  • To help promote strategies which limit easy access to guns in our community.

At this time, however, the Coalition does not fully support the position of Americans Against Gun Violence concerning the adoption of stringent gun control laws in the United States comparable to the laws that have long been in effect in every other high income democratic country of the world. While we support the Coalition's "Agenda for Action" as a step toward reducing gun violence, we believe that more definitive steps need to be taken to reduce rates of gun violence in the United States to levels at or below the rates in other high income democratic countries. We have reached out to the Coalition and hope to enlist its full support in the near future.

Nov 14,2017

More About the International Action Network on Small Arms

More about other organizations|

Among it's other activities, the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) brings together representatives of "civil society" from around the world to make their voices heard at the Biennial Meeting of States (BMS) at the United Nations every two years where progress on the program to eradicate the illicit international trade in small arms is reviewed by UN delegates. Americans Against Gun Violence President Dr. Bill Durston spoke on behalf of U.S. civil society at IANSA sponsored events at BMS 5 in 2014 and at BMS 6 in 2016.

The term, "small arms and light weapons" refers to weapons that can be carried by a single individual, ranging from handguns to shoulder mounted grenade launchers. Most of the daily carnage from small arms and light weapons worldwide results from the use of handguns and rifles.

IANSA was co-founded by Rebecca Peters, who also served as the organization's first executive director. Ms. Peters received the Australian Human Rights medal, Australia's highest civilian honor, for the key role that she played in getting a complete ban passed on all semi-automatic rifles and self-loading shotguns in Australia within just 13 days of the infamous Port Arthur massacre in 1996. Since 1966, there have been no further mass shootings in Australia.

Dr. Durston first met Rebecca Peters at BMS 5 in 2016. He subsequently invited Ms. Peters to be the keynote speaker at the annual dinner of the Sacramento Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility in 2015. Ms. Peters inspiration and counsel was a significant factor in the founding of Americans Against Gun Violence in 2016. Click on this link to read Ms. Peters' article regarding the importance of the role that Americans Against Gun Violence plays in the U.S. gun control debate.

 

Nov 14,2017

More About the Brady Campaign and Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence

More about other organizations|

The stated goal of the Brady Campaign and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is to cut the number of annual US gun deaths in half by 2025. The Brady Campaign does not support any gun control legislation, though, that does not include a "grandfather clause." Grandfather clauses in gun control bills allow individuals who already legally own any category of guns being banned in the new legislation, including assault weapons, to keep them. The Brady Center website states that it works to "inspire safer attitudes and behaviors around the 300 million guns already in our homes and communities and new gun purchases taking place every day." Neither the Brady Campaign nor the Brady Center advocates overturning the 2008 Heller decision or banning or stringently regulating handguns.

Between 2001, when the Brady Campaign was founded, and 2015, the most recent year for which national data on gun deaths are available, the annual number of gun related deaths in the USA increased from 29,573 to 36,252. Even if Brady were to achieve its goal of cutting annual firearm related deaths in half by the year 2025, there would be over 18,000 preventable gun deaths in in the USA in 2025, and the US rate of firearm related deaths would still be 2.5 times higher than in Canada, 5 times higher than in Australia, and 25 times higher than in Britain.

Americans  Against Gun Violence acknowledges and respects the important work that the Brady Campaign has done. We  believe, however, that our country's goal should be to reduce rates of gun violence in the USA to levels at or below the rates in other high income democratic countries, and that in order to achieve this goal, we must adopt the same kinds of stringent gun control regulations that have long been in place in those  other countries. The adoption of  such regulations will require overturning the Heller decision and substantially reducing the number of guns in private hands in the USA.

Despite our differences, Americans Against Gun Violence will continue to work as closely as possible with Brady to foster and defend gun laws that are likely to reduce the extraordinarily high rates of gun violence in our country and to oppose legislation that will have the opposite effect.

 

Nov 14,2017

More about the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence

Uncategorized|

In 2016, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (LCPGV) partnered with Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), the organization founded by former US Representative Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly. Congresswoman Giffords was critically wounded in 2011 in a mass shooting in which six people were killed and thirteen other people were wounded. Due to the severity of her brain injury, Congresswoman Giffords probably plays only a symbolic role in ARS. In 2017, the LCPGV changed its name to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and ARS changed its name to Giffords.

Against Gun Violence has serious concerns about counterfactual statements, particularly with regard to the Second Amendment and the issue of guns for protection, in the book, Enough, which announced the formation of ARS, and which lists Giffords and Kelly as co-authors. The book is written in Kelly's first person voice "with Harry Jaffe," and Mr. Jaffe may have in fact been the principal author.

While LCPGV has done very important work in the past, including filing an amicus brief in the DC versus Heller case and in helping craft and pass good gun laws and defeat bad ones, Americans Against Gun Violence is concerned about the effect that the partnership with ARS may have on LCPGV's objectivity.

As an example of our concerns, the LCPGV website previously contained important information regarding the Second Amendment and the ramifications of the 2008 Heller decision, in which the US Supreme Court reversed over 200 years of prior legal precedent in ruling in a narrow 5-4 decision that the Second Amendment conferred a constitutional right to keep a handgun in the home. The LCPGV website formerly described the Heller decision as being a "radical departure" from the Supreme Court's previous interpretation of the Second Amendment. Since partnering with ARS, though, the LCPGV has distributed a pamphlet describing Heller as a "landmark" decision that "affirmed the right to keep a gun for self-defense.”  In fact, the Supreme Court didn’t “affirm” a right to individual gun ownership in the Heller decision. According to the LCPGV's own amicus brief, it created a right where none previously existed.

Americans Against Gun Violence is also concerned about a statement in the same pamphlet under the heading of "Slippery Slope to Confiscation:"

Nevermind that no serious organization advocates for mass firearm confiscation…or that collecting America’s 357 million firearms would be a logistical impossibility….In reality, smart gun laws are about saving lives and ensuring responsible gun ownership, not taking away guns.

Prior to its partnership with ARS, the LCPGV had correctly stated on its website that the United States has by far the highest rate of gun violence of any high income democratic country of the world, and that:

The reasons for this great disparity are clear: Americans own far more civilian firearms – particularly handguns – than people in other industrialized nations, and U.S. gun control laws are among the most lax in the world.

Americans Against Gun Violence believes, as the above statement posted on the old LCPGV website implies, that in order to reduce rates of gun violence in the United States to levels at or below the rates in other high income democratic countries, we must adopt comparable stringent gun control laws. Such laws need not preclude responsible hunters and target shooters from practicing their sports with traditional sporting rifles and shotguns, but the adoption of such laws will require the surrender and destruction of many other firearms, including handguns and assault rifles. Substantially reducing the pool of guns in our country is not a "logistical impossibility." Other countries have done it, and so can we. The longer we wait, though, the larger the pool becomes.

We've formally addressed these and other concerns with the leadership of LCPGV and we're awaiting a reply.

 

 

 

Nov 14,2017

More about GunPolicy.org

More about other organizations|

GunPolicy.org works mainly in the area of gun violence research and dissemination of information. Unlike Americans Against Gun Violence, it does engage in legislative advocacy or grass roots organizing in order to change gun policies.

Due to lack of funding, GunPolicy.org stopped updating its website in 2016. Americans Against Gun Violence is actively seeking to raise money to continue to collect data comparing rates of gun ownership, rates of gun violence, and differences in gun control regulations between the United States and other high income democratic countries. Contributions to help in this effort can be made via the Join/Donate page of the Americans Against Gun Violence website.

Nov 14,2017

More about the Violence Policy Center, VPC Executive Director Joshua Sugarmann, and the 2019 VPC High School Video Contest

More about other organizations|

The executive director of the Violence Policy Center, Joshua Sugarmann, was the keynote speaker at our Americans Against Gun Violence first annual dinner on October 22, 2017. (Click on this link to read Mr. Sugarmann's speech.) In addition to co-authoring numerous reports with his colleagues at the VPC, Mr. Sugarmann is the author of the 2001 book, Every Handgun is Aimed at You: The Case for Banning Handguns, and the 1996 book,  NRA: Money, Firepower, and Fear. 

In Every Handgun Is Aimed At You, Mr. Sugarmann wrote:

America's gun lobby would be on the run, if only the gun control advocates would bother to chase them. Instead, trapped by their perception of the politically achievable, gun control advocates are always on the defensive....They nibble around the edges of half-solutions and good intentions dramatically out of sync with the reality of gun violence in America.

We founded Americans Against Gun Violence in 2016 in part because we believed that Mr. Sugarmann's statement was still true at that time and that our country needed a new organization that would put the gun lobby on the run; that would change the perception of what kind of gun control legislation is politically achievable in the United States; and that would advocate definitive solutions to ending the epidemic of gun violence in America.

The goal of the VPC's 2019 Youth Against Gun Violence Scholarship Film Contest is to give voice to teens facing the reality of gun violence and to help support the growing movement among young people to reduce gun death and injury. The contest, open to high school-age students 14 and older, will accept submissions until April 15, 2019 through the VPC's contest website. Videos should be no more than three minutes in length. Winners will be announced on May 15, 2018. The first-place winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship, the second-place winner will receive a $500 scholarship, and the third-place winner will receive a $300 scholarship. Click on these links for full contest details and for a downloadable flyer in PDF format.

Nov 07,2017

Americans Against Gun Violence Responds to Texas Mass Shooting

Press Releases|

Americans Against Gun Violence extends heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of all the people killed in the mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas on November 5. We also extend our deepest sympathy to all the surviving victims along with sincere wishes for a prompt and complete recovery.

At the same time, however, we agree with the statement made by the late Senator Thomas Dodd of Connecticut in 1968, following the assassinations of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and Senator Robert F. Kennedy:

Pious condolences will no longer suffice....Quarter measures and half measures will no longer suffice....The time has now come that we must adopt stringent gun control legislation comparable to the legislation in force in virtually every civilized country of the world.

Since Senator Dodd made this staement in 1968, more U.S. civilians have died of gunshot wounds than all the U.S. soldiers killed in all the wars in which our country has ever been involved.

The Sutherland Springs mass shooting, in which at least 26 people were killed and 20 others wounded by a lone gunman using a semi-automatic rifle, comes exactly five weeks after the worst mass shooting in U.S. history in Las Vegas, Nevada, in which at least 58 people were killed and hundreds more were wounded by a single gunman using similar firearms. Since the Las Vegas mass shooting, as has been the case after every other horrific mass shooting in the United States, Congress has done nothing to prevent similar mass shootings from recurring on a regular basis.

The regular occurrence of mass shootings is preventable. Mass shootings occur rarely, if at all, in other high income democratic countries of the world, all of which have far more stringent gun control regulations than the United States.

(more…)

Nov 03,2017

AAGunV President Speaks at California Pension Fund Meeting re: Divesting from Gun Industry

AAGunV in the News|

Americans Against Gun Violence president Dr. Bill Durston was invited by the California State Treasurer's office to speak at the meeting of the Board of Directors of the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) on November 1 concerning a proposal by Treasurer John Chiang that CalSTRS completely divest from any companies involved in the distribution or sale of guns that are banned in California. CalSTRS, which has $215 billion in assets, had previously divested from companies that manufacture firearms that are illegal in California after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting.

The Chairman of the CalSTRS Board, Mr. Harry Keiley, noted that the meeting was being held on the one month anniversary of the Las Vegas mass shooting. Mr. Keiley paid tribute to three California teachers, Sandra Casey, Kelsey Meadows, and Jenny Parks, who were killed in the shooting.

 

Sandra Casey

Jenny Parks

Kelsey Meadows

Dr. Durston stated that Americans Against Gun Violence supported the divestment proposal by Treasurer Chiang as an important symbolic gesture, but that divestment alone would be unlikely to have any measurable effect on preventing future mass shootings or reducing the daily toll of gun violence in California or the rest of the country. He called on the CalSTRS Board to go beyond divestment and join Americans Against Gun Violence in working toward the adoption of stringent gun control regulations comparable to the regulations that have long been in effect in all other high income democratic countries.

Read Dr. Durston's full statement

Oct 31,2017

Interview with Keynote Speaker on Capital Public Radio

AAGunV in the News|

Joshua Sugarmann

An interview with the keynote speaker at our October 22nd annual dinner will be aired on Sacramento's Capital Public Radio Insight program between 9-10 AM and again between 7-8 PM on Wednesday, November 1, the one month anniversary of the Las Vegas mass shooting.

 

 

The interview with Joshua Sugarmann, who is the founder and executive director of the Violence Policy Center in Washington DC, was recorded at the CPR studio the morning after Mr. Sugarmann delivered his keynote address on the topic, Gun Violence in America: A Preventable Epidemic. (Click on this link to read the full text of his speech.)

During the broadcast on November 1, the interview can be heard in the Sacramento area on KXJZ 90.9 FM; in the Tahoe/Reno area on KKTO 90.5 FM;  in the Stockton/Modesto area on KUOP 91.3 FM, and in Quincy on KQNC 88.1 FM. The interview can also be heard via live streaming from any site with internet access during the broadcast and for approximately 7-10 days afterward through the CPR Insight archives.

We know from past experience that the radio station will receive complaints from the gun lobby about the interview with Mr. Sugarmann, who has been condemned by the NRA as being "the most effective anti-gun rabble rouser in Washington DC."  After listening to the interview yourself, please contact CPR either by phone at (916) 278-8900 or by email by clicking on this link, and please let the station know your opinion about the interview and about the importance of public radio devoting more air time to publicizing the need for the adoption of stringent gun control laws in our country comparable to the laws that have long been in effect in every other high income democratic country of the world.

 

Oct 06,2017

Mass Shootings Are Preventable: Response to the Las Vegas Massacre

Press Releases|

Americans Against Gun Violence extends heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of all the people killed in the mass shooting in Las Vegas on October 1. We also extend our deepest sympathy to all the surviving victims along with sincere wishes for a prompt and complete recovery.

At the same time, however, we agree with the statement made by the late Senator Thomas Dodd of Connecticut in 1968, following the assassinations of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and Senator Robert F. Kennedy:

Pious condolences will no longer suffice....Quarter measures and half measures will no longer suffice....The time has now come that we must adopt stringent gun control legislation comparable to the legislation in force in virtually every civilized country of the world.

The massacre in Las Vegas, in which at least 58 people were killed and hundreds more were wounded, is the deadliest mass shooting to date in U.S. history, eclipsing the number of casualties in the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida, on June 12, 2016, in which 49 people were killed and 58 injured. Unless definitve gun control laws are adopted, however, the Las Vegas massacre will not be the last mass shooting in U.S. history, nor will it continue to stand as the worst.

The regular occurrence of mass shootings is preventable. Mass shootings occur rarely, if at all, in other high income democratic countries of the world, all of which have far more stringent gun control regulations than the United States.

Preliminary reports indicate that the perpetrator of the Las Vegas massacre, Stephen Paddock, obtained all of the semi-automatic rifles that he used in the shooting legally under the lax U.S. gun laws, along with the "bump stocks" that allowed the rifles to function similar to fully automatic machine guns. Paddock used these weapons for the purpose for which they were designed - to kill and maim large numbers of people in a short period of time. Americans Against Gun Violence believes that there is no legitimate civilian use for such weapons. Civilian ownership of such semi-automatic rifles is either strictly regulated or completely banned in all other high income democratic countries.

The legislation that has been introduced in Congress following the Las Vegas massacre to ban "bump stocks" does not qualify as even a "quarter measure" in the terminology used by the late Senator Thomas Dodd. It's likely that Stephen Paddock would have been able to kill and maim very nearly as many people using semi-automatic rifles without "bump stocks."

Following a mass shooting in 1996 in the resort town of Port Arthur, Australia, in which 35 people were killed and 23 wounded by a single gunman using semi-automatic rifles, it took the Australian government just 13 days to ban all semi-automatic rifles. The Australian government subsequently bought back approximately 1 million semi-automatic rifles and melted them down. There have been no more mass shootings in Australia since the ban went into effect, and overall rates of firearm related deaths and injuries, which were already much lower than in the United States, have continued to fall.

The U.S. Congress should follow the example of Australia and pass veto proof legislation to ban all semi-automatic rifles. Until such a ban is adopted, we should not be surprised when the next horrific mass shooting occurs. Rather, we should ask ourselves why as a nation we lack the political will to prevent such massacres.
Aug 30,2017

Make Reservations Now to Attend the October 22 Annual Dinner in Sacramento, California

AAGunV in the News, Events|

Click on this link to make reservations to attend the first annual dinner of Americans Against Gun Violence at the DoubleTree by Hilton, 2001 Point West Way in Sacramento, California, on the evening of Sunday, October 22, 2017. (This link was deactivated after the deadline to make reservations is 11:59 PM on Wednesday, October 18.) The event will mark the first full year that Americans Against Gun Violence has been in operation, and it will provide an opportunity for us to reflect both on the progress that we’ve made up to this point and on the formidable challenges that lie ahead. Doors open for social hour and check-in at 5:00 PM, dinner begins at 6:00, and the program begins at 7:00. The cost of the dinner is $45 per person ($25 for students).

We’re honored to have an outstanding keynote speaker, Josh Sugarmann, lined up for the dinner. Josh is the executive director of the Violence Policy Center based in Washington DC. The Violence Policy Center has long been one of our country’s most credible sources of information on the many facets of gun violence in the United States. Josh has worked for more than three decades in the file of gun violence prevention. He’s written innumerable articles and reports on the subject, and he’s the author of two books, NRA: Money, Firepower & Fear, published in 1992, and Every Handgun is Aimed at You: The Case for Banning Handguns, published in 2001. Josh will speaking at the October 22 dinner on the topic, Gun Violence in America: A Preventable Epidemic.

For more details concerning the October 22 annual dinner, please see the September 2 President's message.

 

Jul 25,2017

AAGunV President quoted in article on declining long gun sales

AAGunV in the News, News about Gun Violence|

Americans Against Gun Violence president, Dr. Bill Durston, was quoted in an article on the front page of the Sacramento Bee on July 24, 2017 concerning the decline in long gun sales in California after Donald Trump became President. Dr. Durston noted that grandfather clauses that are typically included in US gun control laws, allowing people who already have the types of guns in question to keep them if they obtained them before a ban goes into place,  lead to surges in gun sales when potential buyers fear that a new gun ban is imminent, as after a mass shooting or when it appears that a candidate who supports gun control will be elected.

AR-15 rifle

Sales of AR-15  style assault rifles surged after the Pulse nightclub massacre and when it appeared that Hillary Clinton would be elected president, but they've declined since Trump assumed office. Sales of handguns, though, have continued to rise. With more than 300 million guns already in circulation in the United States, and with handguns accounting for most firearm related deaths in our country, Dr. Durston noted that a decline in new sales of long guns without a reduction in the total number of guns in circulation would not be expected to lead to a significant reduction in rates of gun violence.

Jul 20,2017

Save the Date of October 22 to Attend the Americans Against Gun Violence Annual Dinner

AAGunV in the News, Events|

The first annual dinner of Americans Against Gun Violence will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Sacramento, California, on the evening of Sunday, October 22, 2017. The event will mark the first full year that we’ve been in operation, and it will provide an opportunity for us to reflect both on the progress that we’ve made up to this point and on the formidable challenges that lie ahead.

We’re honored to have an outstanding keynote speaker, Josh Sugarmann, lined up for the dinner. Josh is the executive director of the Violence Policy Center based in Washington DC. The Violence Policy Center has long been one of our country’s most credible sources of information on the many facets of gun violence in the United States. Josh has worked for more than three decades in the arena of gun violence prevention. He’s written innumerable articles and reports on the subject, and he’s the author of two books, NRA: Money, Firepower & Fear, published in 1992, and Every Handgun is Aimed at You: The Case for Banning Handguns, published in 2001.

Details will be posted on this website in the near future regarding the exact time and location of the annual dinner, menu choices, cost, and how you can make reservations both for the dinner itself and for overnight accommodations if you’ll be coming from out of town.

Jun 24,2017

Letters to the Editor of The Sacramento Bee re: Arlington Mass Shooting

AAGunV in the News|

Re: “Your ‘thoughts and prayers’ are meaningless. To stop mass shootings we need to do this

Marcos Breton is completely and utterly on point. For those of us who have asked our representatives to do something about guns, ammunition and the efforts of the gun lobby, it’s hard to know what’s next. I so appreciate your public, loud call for more action on all our behalf.  An Americans Against Gun Violence Member, Davis, California

We need serious and effective national gun control as found in New Zealand, Australia and other countries. Gun freedom, as practiced in the United States, is the major reason for needless deaths. There are real-life gun control models in use around the world that would vastly reduce gun deaths in this country if our politicians had guts to do what is right. They do not. They are all afraid of the NRA. I am a lifetime gun owner and user but support gun control models like those now in use in many other very free and productive countries. I even support controls that will restrict my usage if it saves all those lives.  Doug Sutherland, Roseville, Califonria

Jun 14,2017

Americans Against Gun Violence Responds to Virginia Mass Shooting

News about Gun Violence, Press Releases|

Americans Against Gun Violence extends sincere condolences and wishes for a prompt and complete recovery to all the victims of the mass shooting that occurred at a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia this morning. Preliminary reports indicate that at least four people, including U.S. Representative Steve Scalise, were wounded in an attack by a lone gunman as members of the Republican Party and their staff were practicing for an annual charity softball game against members of the Democratic Party.
The mass shooting in Virginia today, which comes just two days after the one year anniversary of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history - the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida, on June 12, 2016, in which 49 people were killed and 58 injured - demonstrates that no one in the United States is safe from the threat of gun violence.
Americans Against Gun Violence concurs with the following statement by a U.S. senator from Connecticut:

Pious condolences will no longer suffice....Quarter measures and half measures will no longer suffice....The time has now come that we must enact stringent gun control legislation comparable to the legislation in force in virtually every civilized country of the world.

Unfortunately, however, this statement was made 49 years ago by the late Senator Thomas Dodd, following the assassinations of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. In the intervening 49 years, Congress has failed to enact the stringent gun control legislation that Senator Dodd called for, and as a result, more U.S. civilians have been killed by guns than all the U.S. soldiers killed in all the wars in which the United States has ever been involved.
We are deeply saddened by the mass shooting that occurred in Virginia this morning, but we hope that it will provide the impetus necessary for all members of Congress to work together toward the adoption of definitive gun control laws in the United States comparable to the laws that have long been in place in every other high income democratic country of the world - countries in which mass shootings are rare or non-existent, and in which overall rates of gun violence are far lower than in the United States.
Jun 12,2017

One Year Anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub Mass Shooting

News about Gun Violence|

On June 12, 2016, a lone gunman, Omar Mateen, committed the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, killing 49 people and wounding 58 others at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Mateen was subsequently killed by police. The shooting was classified as a hate crime, as most of the patrons of the Pulse nightclub were members of the LGBT community. It was also classified as an act of terrorism based on a claim of allegiance to the Islamic State that Mateen made during the shooting, although Mateen was born and raised in the United States and had no known formal ties to any terrorist organization.
Since the Pulse nightclub massacre, Congress has not taken any action to prevent future mass shootings or to stop the epidemic of gun violence that claims more than 90 lives on an average day in the United States. Please contact your elected representatives at the state and federal levels to demand stringent gun control laws comparable to the laws that have long been in place in every other high income democratic country of the world - countries in which mass shootings are rare or non-existent and in which overall rates of firearm related deaths are much lower than in the United States. See Dr. Durston's June 11 President's Message for more talking points. Click on this link for contact information for your elected representatives.
Jun 04,2017

Letter to the Editor published in the Sacramento Bee re: article about gun violence research

AAGunV in the News|

Re: "UCD doctor's research is a danger to the gun industry (Dan Morain, May 28): There's already abundant evidence that guns in our homes and communities are much more likely to be used to kill innocent people than to protect them. The rate of gun deaths is 10 times higher in the United States than in other developed countries. The main reason for this vast difference is our weak gun control laws and the extraordinarily high number of guns in circulation.

In 1968, the late Sen. Thomas Dodd, D-Conn., called for the adoption of stringent gun control laws comparable to laws in place in other democratic countries. Since 1968, more U.S. civilians have died of gunshot wounds than all the U.S. soldiers in all the wars in which our country was ever involved. More research, in the absence of definitive gun control laws, will only document more senseless deaths. Bill Durston, MD

Aug 22,2016

Welcome, Americans Against Gun Violence: A Message from Australian Human Rights Medal Winner Rebecca Peters

International Gun Violence Prevention|

As most people know, the United States leads the industrialised world in gun violence. For example, according to data collated by the organization, GunPolicy.org, based at the University of Sydney, a person living in the US is over 50 times more likely to be murdered with a handgun than a person living in Europe or Australia. This is perhaps not surprising given that the United States leads all other nations in domestic gun production as well as in imports and exports of firearms. The US also leads the rest of the world in the number of advocacy groups campaigning for improved firearm regulations. 

Until the founding of Americans Against Gun Violence a few months ago, the range of policy recommendations put forward by the dozens of other firearm injury prevention advocacy organizations in the United States has been generally quite modest. Examples include expanding background checks to a larger proportion of gun buyers, banning new sales of assault weapons, and blocking gun sales to people already identified by government authorities as dangerous. While these are vitally important proposals, they constitute what should be an absolute minimum level of regulation. Observers outside the US – and indeed, many Americans – have wondered why more ambitious measures, like the ones already in place in other high income democratic countries, are rarely mentioned.

 

Gun control regulations in most industrialised nations include:

  • A requirement for a license to possess (buy, own, use) any firearm, subject to suspension or revocation for violations of the law or of license conditions. Only license-holders can purchase ammunition.
  • Registration of all firearms
  • Either a complete ban or very stringent regulation of civilian possession of handguns and semi-automatic rifles
  • Rejection, in most cases, of “self-defence” as a legitimate reason for acquiring firearms, given the overwhelming evidence that there is no net protective value from owning or carrying a gun.
  • Background checks extending far beyond a computer check of criminal convictions and involuntary commitments for mental illness (The onus is on the potential gun buyer to prove that acquiring a gun would not jeopardise community safety, not on society to prove that he or she is a criminal or mentally unstable.)
  • Mechanisms to deter the accumulation of personal arsenals

 

It is understandable that most of the US advocacy groups are promoting a more limited gun control agenda, given the perception that more definitive gun control measures are not politically achievable at present. Nonetheless, reducing the huge public health and social problems created by the proliferation of guns in this country – including over 33,000 gun deaths per year – will likely require stronger measures. From the political point of view, as well, there is a need to test the assumption that advocating definitive gun control measures is political suicide in the USA.

 

Enter Americans Against Gun Violence, a non-profit organization incorporated in March of this year and first opened for general membership after the June 12 Pulse nightclub mass shooting. Americans Against Gun Violence openly advocates the adoption of definitive gun control regulations in the USA, similar to those already in place in other high-income democratic countries.(Actually, a few states do have regulatory frameworks not too far below the international norm, though the effectiveness of these regulations is undermined by neighbouring states with weaker laws.  A more ambitious approach will help to highlight and promote those good examples.)

 

If US rates of gun violence drop to something around the levels in other comparable democracies, the public health benefit will be enormous. For example, if the rate of firearms-related deaths in the United States in 2014 (10.54 per 100,000 population) had been the same as the rate in Australia (1.02 per 100,000), more than 30,000 American lives would have been saved in that single year.

 

Even if Americans Against Gun Violence doesn’t immediately succeed in its goals, the existence of such an organization can change the terms of the gun control debate. Currently, the US mass media portrays the gun control debate as a contrast between two extreme positions. At one extreme is the NRA, opposing almost any restrictions on access to guns and ammunition; at the other end of the spectrum, according to the media, are the majority of gun violence prevention organizations – even though the measures that they advocate are exceedingly modest by international standards. To the extent that the position of Americans Against Gun Violence is seen by journalists as the new extreme, the positions of other firearm injury prevention groups are likely to be seen as all the more reasonable by American standards.

 

The more ambitious approach of Americans Against Gun Violence will also be welcomed by violence prevention advocates, policymakers, and victims of gun violence in other countries, who are battling the flood of guns unleashed onto the global black market by the loophole-ridden American laws. Around the world, members of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), are working with their governments and communities to strengthen firearm regulations, transform cultures of violence, and improve public safety capacity and performance. But the full benefit of these advances cannot be felt until genuine progress is made upstream, in the source country whose lax gun laws provide a ready source of weaponry for bad actors in other countries, including Mexican drug lords and the Islamic State.

 

So welcome, Americans Against Gun Violence! My colleagues and I at IANSA look forward to working with you toward a safer United States and Planet Earth.

 

 

About the Author:

 

Rebecca Peters earned her law degree from the University of New South Wales, Australia. In the 1990s she chaired the National Coalition for Gun Control, leading the campaign that succeeded in securing the reform of Australia’s gun laws after the 1996 massacre at Port Arthur, Tasmania. The reforms, announced just 12 days after the massacre, created uniform gun laws across the country, including a ban on all self-loading rifles and shotguns. Ms. Peters was awarded Australian Human Rights Medal, Australia’s highest civilian award, for the key role that she played. She subsequently became the founding director of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA). She continues to advise IANSA and is currently working with gun violence survivors in Guatemala. Ms. Peters may be contacted via IANSA through the following links:

 

http://www.iansa.org/

https://www.facebook.com/IANSAnetwork

https://twitter.com/IANSAnetwork

Click on this link for a fully referenced PDF version of this newsletter.

Aug 12,2016

“Take a Stand” against Gun Violence and Nuclear Weapons

Uncategorized|

AAGunV President Speaks at August Peace Event:
Attendees “Take a Stand” against Gun Violence and Nuclear Weapons

Americans Against Gun Violence president, Dr. Bill Durston, spoke at the annual August Peace Event in Sacramento, California on Sunday, August 7. The event is held every year to commemorate the atomic bomb attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and August 9, respectively, in 1945. Dr. Durston was asked to speak at this year’s August Peace Event concerning what actions citizens could take to help ensure that nuclear weapons would ever be used again. Americans Against Gun Violence was a co-sponsor of the event.

Dr. Durston noted that the weaponry of armed violence can be seen as a continuum, with handguns at one end of this continuum and nuclear weapons at the other. A nuclear war, which could be triggered by a terrorist attack, an accidental launch, a false alarm, or the action of a rogue nation or rogue leader, could wipe out human civilization overnight. Day in and day out, though, firearms are the weapons of choice for the commission of armed violence. As former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said during an address at a small arms conference in 2006:

"The death toll from small arms dwarfs that of all other weapons systems – and in most years greatly exceeds the toll of the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In terms of the carnage they cause, small arms, indeed, could well be described as ‘weapons of mass destruction"

Every year at the August Peace Event, the story of Sadako and the 1,000 Cranes is retold. Sadako was a young Japanese woman who survived the Hiroshima atomic bomb blast in 1945 but who later contracted leukemia, probably due to the radiation to which she was exposed. According to Japanese legend, if one folds 1,000 paper cranes, his or her wish for a long and healthy life will be granted. Sadako succeeded in folding over 1,000 cranes as she battled leukemia, but her wish to live was not granted, and she died 10 months after her leukemia was first diagnosed.

Dr. Durston urged attendees at the August Peace Event to help us write a story with a happier ending - The Story of Sacramento and the 1,000 Phone Calls - by calling President Obama and their elected members of Congress to demand that they oppose any further spending on “modernizing” our nuclear arsenal and that they instead work toward the complete abolition of nuclear weapons. At the same time, Dr. Durston urged attendees to demand that the President and members of Congress work toward the adoption of definitive gun control laws in the USA – laws comparable to those already in place in every other high income democratic country of the world.
Attendees at the August Peace Event enthusiastically supported Dr. Durston’s call to action, and many volunteered to have their pictures taken “taking a stand against gun violence and nuclear weapons.” Selected photos from the August Peace Event will be used to create the banner on the Americans Against Gun Violence website.