Independent researchers estimate that 100 people are killed daily with guns in the U.S. – and many more are injured. Guns are the second leading cause of death for all children and teens; it is the first for Black children and teens. On average, 52 women are shot to death each month by an intimate partner.
These statistics tell the impact of gun violence in American communities today. Behind each statistic is a mother, a father, a daughter, a teenager, a child. Gun violence could happen anywhere – in schools, in houses of worship, and in theaters. The surge in gun violence should not be underestimated even if, often, it rarely makes national news.
We seek a society where everyone can fully live to their potential; the scourge of gun violence prevents far too many people from doing so.
As Quakers, we believe that there is that of God in every person. We seek a society where everyone can fully live to their potential; the scourge of gun violence prevents far too many people from doing so. It is our goal to decrease gun violence by creating and implementing policies that reduce the number of guns and gun use in our communities.
To help reduce gun violence, the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) is focused on passing legislation that will require universal background checks for all gun purchases, secure funds to research this public health problem, and extreme risk laws to temporarily restrict access to guns. These commonsense goals will not only make our communities less violent, but they also have a lot of momentum in Congress.
Universal background checks are critical in preventing people who should not have guns from buying them in the first place. Under current law, unlicensed dealers like those selling firearms on the internet or at gun shows, can do so without running a background check. Universal background checks would close such loopholes.
Funding research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the National Institutes of Health will produce data that can be used to address what the American Medical Association calls a public health crisis.Researchers have shown that background checks prevent gun violence. Up to 80 percent of firearms used in crimes are obtained without a background check. From 1997 to 2017, more than 3 million people legally prohibited from owning a gun were denied the chance to purchase one because of existing background check laws.
For more than 20 years, Congress has prohibited the CDC from researching the health impacts of gun violence. It’s important to note that the research itself isn’t political. It’s about getting the information we need to help prevent tragedies and make our communities less violent.
Extreme risk laws or extreme risk protection orders allow families, household members, and/or law enforcement officers to petition courts to temporarily restrict an individual’s access to guns if they pose a threat to themselves or to others. Only 17 states and the District of Columbia have such laws. Last year, Florida and Vermont prevented mass murders with the help of extreme risk laws.
In this work, we have partnered with many organizations who have extensive experience in gun violence prevention like the Brady Campaign. FCNL plays a leading role in the Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence coalition.
In times of increased gun violence, thoughts and prayers are no longer enough.
With this collaboration, we have already seen Congress make more progress on gun violence prevention than in previous decades. In February, the House passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 (H.R. 8), which would institute universal background checks and close current loopholes.
The House also passed a bill that would strengthen other parts of our current background check system – the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019 (H.R. 1112). It also voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (H.R. 1585) with provisions like one that would close the “boyfriend loophole.”
While these victories show our progress in curbing gun violence, a lot more work needs to be done. The Senate companion bill to H.R. 8, the Background Check Expansion Act (S. 42), has yet to see any action. To pass these bills into law, Congress must hear from advocates like you, their constituents.
In times of increased gun violence, thoughts and prayers are no longer enough. We need policies and action.