Vote Yes on Cloture on S. 649, Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013
Advocacy Letter - 04/10/13
Source: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Recipient: U.S. Senate
On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 210 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, we write to urge you to vote yes on cloture on S. 649, Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013, which includes: expanded provisions for background checks, strengthened federal gun trafficking laws, and improvements in school and campus safety. The passage of comprehensive gun safety legislation is essential to improving public safety for all Americans.
The Leadership Conference believes that S. 649 will be of great benefit to the communities we represent, particularly for people of color, youth, and women who are victims of domestic violence, as they experience some of the highest rates of gun violence. Widespread gun violence has had a devastating effect on African-American families and communities. For example, in urban areas, African Americans are far more likely to die from gun violence than whites. Indeed, “young black men die of gun homicide at a rate eight times that of young white men.”[i] In addition, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2010, 85 percent of homicides and 45 percent of suicides were by a firearm.[ii] Among all teens aged 15–19, a firearm was the leading cause of death, whether as a result of homicide or suicide. Further, victims of intimate partner violence are at greater risk of death by firearm. The presence of a gun in domestic violence situations increases the risk of homicide for women by 500 percent.[iii]
In view of the loss of life and devastating impact of gun violence, The Leadership Conference supports congressional action to enhance public safety by expanding background checks, strengthening federal gun trafficking laws, and improving school and campus safety. We believe these measures are an important first step to respond to the Newtown massacre and the epidemic of gun violence facing our nation.
Expanding and strengthening background checks is the most effective way to keep guns out of the hands of those who commit crimes. Since its inception, the National Background Check System has worked, resolving over 90 percent of checks instantaneously and blocking over two million gun purchases by prohibited buyers.[iv] However, under current law two loopholes give prohibited buyers access to guns – sales between “private” parties and missing records. An estimated 40 percent of gun transfers take place between “private parties” and are not subject to background checks.[v] In 2012, an estimated 6.6 million guns were transferred in this way – without checks or records.[vi] These loopholes have a significant impact on public safety. In states that require background checks for private handgun sales, 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners,[vii] 49 percent fewer firearm suicides occur,[viii] and 48 percent fewer gun trafficking occurs.[ix] As the evidence suggests, requiring background checks for private gun sales reduces crime and saves lives. We are pleased that the proposed legislation will cover all commercial gun sales.
The Leadership Conference believes passage of legislation which includes expanded background checks, strengthened federal laws on weapons trafficking, and improvements in school and campus safety are critical to stemming the tide of gun violence in our nation. For these reasons we urge you to vote yes on cloture on S.649, Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013. Thank you for your consideration. If you have any questions, please contact either of us or June Zeitlin at (202)263-2852 or Zeitlin@civilrights.org.
President & CEO
Executive Vice President
[i] David Cole, Who Pays for the Right to Bear Arms? , N.Y. Times, Jan 1, 2013, at A19.
[ii] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [Online]. (2012). National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (producer). Available from: www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/fatal.html
[iii] J.C. Campbell, D.W. Webster, J. Koziol-McLain, et al., “Risk factors for femicide within physically abusive intimate relationships: results from a multi-site case control study,” 93 Amer. J. of Public Health 1089-1097 (2003).
[vii] U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Supplementary Homicide Reports, 2011, available at http://bit.ly/V1GvFe. Excludes New York due to incomplete data; Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Supplementary Homicide Report. 2010.
[viii] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]. (2005) [cited 2012 Dec. 20]. Available at: www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars
[ix] Daniel Webster, Jon Vernick, & Maria Bulzacchelli, “Effects of State-Level Firearm Seller Accountability Policies on Firearm Trafficking,” Journal of Urban Health, July 2009. To gauge gun trafficking, the authors measured the ratio of likely trafficked guns recovered from crime scenes to the total of guns recovered. A “likely trafficked gun” was defined as having been recovered at a crime scene and not in the possession of its original purchaser within one year of its last legal sale.