Talking About Gun Violence Prevention
Discussions on firearm policy should be framed as pro-safety, pro-responsibility, and pro-public health. Finding common ground is the best way to open any discussion on gun violence prevention.
Identify ideals that unite — like respecting constitutional rights, while also preventing gun deaths — and focus on those. Once common ground is established, offering facts and statistics in a constructive (did you know?) manner can invite others to consider their positions without assaulting their convictions.
Don’t be afraid to disagree with others, but make sure that an effort has been made to find common ground, and that you remain open to their concerns. Any conversation on gun violence prevention that ends with an opportunity for further discussion is a step in the right direction.
This toolkit can be used to help facilitate conversations about gun violence prevention with your family, community, voters, candidates, and elected officials.
BASICS ON GUN VIOLENCE IN AMERICA
- Every year almost 40,000 people will die from gun violence in America.
- That’s over 100 people who are shot and killed in the United states every day.
- That’s one life lost to a gun every 14 minutes.
- That’s the equivalent of a regional passenger jet falling from the sky on a daily basis.
- Daily, 2 to 3 times as many people will be shot and survive their injuries, their lives, and their family’s lives, changed forever.
- More people have died from domestic gun violence in the last 13 years (444,299) than were killed in combat in every major American war of the 20th Century, combined (426,280 - including WWI, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, and Desert Storm).
UNIVERSAL BRADY BACKGROUND CHECKS
- Background checks are the foundation that all other gun laws are built upon.
- Without background checks it is almost impossible to keep guns out of the hands of prohibited individuals or to hold illegal gun dealers accountable.
- Background checks are incredibly effective: over 3.5 million unlawful gun transactions have been blocked since the Brady Background Check law went into effect.
- However, 1 in every 5 guns is sold today without a background check — most of which are sold at gun shows or via the internet.
- Gun homicide rates have been cut in half in the years since the Brady Law was passed.
- Gun homicides fell an astonishing 46% from 1993 to 2001.
- By 2010, the gun homicide rate had dropped 49%.
- All other gun-related crimes dropped substantially as well—assaults, robberies and sex crimes — were 75% lower in 2011 than in 1993.
- We need to expand background checks to cover all gun transactions, so that prohibited people can’t just turn to a private seller on the internet or at a gun show to evade a background check.
- Today, over 90% of the American public supports conducting a background check on every gun sale.
- 77% of gun owners support requiring background checks for private gun sales.
- In 2019 alone, over 28 million Brady Background Checks were processed by the FBI
EXTREME RISK LAWS
- Extreme Risk Laws (sometimes called “red flag laws” or ERPOs) allow for individuals who are a risk to themselves or others to be temporarily separated from firearms by a court of law, without criminal charges or a permanent prohibition.
- Nineteen states and Washington, D.C. have enacted versions of extreme risk laws.
- ERPOs are particularly suited to preventing suicide — a study of Connecticut’s ERPO law found that nearly half of all ERPOs resulted in individuals recieving treatment, and that for every 10-20 orders a suicide was prevented.
- Indiana’s ERPO law was associated with a 7.5% reduction in firearm suicides in the ten years following its enactment.
- In the wake of the Parkland shooting, 12 states and the District of Columbia passed extreme risk laws, 5 of which were signed by Republican Governors (Florida, Illinois, Vermont, Maryland & Massachusetts).
- Nationally, majorities support the two key elements of extreme risk protection policies nationally:
- 66% of gun owners and 80% of non gun owners (76% of adults overall) support authorizing law enforcement officers to temporarily remove firearms from those who pose an immediate threat to themselves or to others.
- 72% of gun owners and 82% of non-gun owners (80% of adults overall) support allowing family members to ask a court to temporarily remove firearms from a relative who is believed to be at risk of harming themselves or others.
ASSAULT WEAPONS & HIGH-CAPACITY MAGAZINES
- Assault weapons are firearms designed for offensive use, intended to kill the most people in the shortest period of time.
- Weapons of war should not be in places of peace — assault weapons have no place on America’s streets.
- Most assault rifles are also a poor choice for home security because of their high-powered rounds.
- The AR-15 was chosen as the platform for the military’s assault rifles because it can shoot through both sides of a standard issue Army helmet at 300 yards.
- If used for home defense, a missed shot could easily travel through several walls and injure or kill an unintended individual.
- The only functional difference between an AR-15 and a military issue M4 is that the latter can shoot automatically.
- In 2016 and 2017, 1 in 5 officers killed in the line of duty were killed by assault weapons.
- A 2004 DOJ report stated that high-capacity magazines are used in 31-41% of fatal police shootings, varying by city.
- According to a 2010 survey by the Police Executive Research Forum, after the assault weapons ban expired in 2004, 37% of police agencies saw increases in criminal use of assault weapons and 38% reported a noticeable increase in criminal use of large capacity magazines.
- During the decade that the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban was in effect, gun massacres fell by 37%t, and the number of people dying from gun massacres fell by 43%.
- The following decade after the ban expired there was a 183% increase in “massacres” and 239% increase in fatalities.
- A review of mass shootings between 2009 and 2015 demonstrated that in shootings where assault weapons or large capacity magazines are used, 155% more people are shot and 47% more die compared to those without them.
- After the federal assault weapons ban was adopted, the prevalence of assault weapons as a share of recovered crime guns decreased between 32% and 40% across several major cities.
- According to both a 2018 Quinnipiac University poll and a 2019 Fox News poll, 67% of all Americans support an assault weapons sales ban.
- Definition of assault weapons — semi-automatic, center-fire firearms with at least a single feature designed to increase lethality that is capable of accepting a detachable ammunition magazine, an internal magazine, capable of holding more than 10 rounds.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE & GUNS
- An average of 529 women are killed by a husband or male dating partner with a gun every year.
- This means a woman is killed by an intimate partner with a gun every 16 hours.
- Women are five times more likely to be killed by an abusive intimate partner when her abuser has access to a firearm during an incident of domestic violence.
- Women living in the United States are 21 times more likely to be killed with a gun than women living in other high-income countries.
- An analysis of domestic violence reports in 2016 showed that about 4.5 million American women reported that an intimate partner had threatened them with a gun.
- The majority of female homicides (64%) are perpetrated by current or former male intimate partners (as of 2015) and about 50-60% of these homicides are carried out with a gun.
- 60% of mass shooting events in the last 6 years were either domestic violence attacks or perpetrated by those with a history of domestic violence.
- Convictions for a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence represents the fourth-most frequent reason for a denial of a FBI-conducted background check, only behind a felony conviction, outstanding arrest warrant, and unlawful controlled substance user.
- Under current law, domestic abusers convicted of misdemeanor crimes of violence who are married to their victim or share a child in common are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms. There is no such law for dating partners who are convicted of misdemeanor crimes of violence.
DISPROPORTIONATE IMPACT OF GUN VIOLENCE IN COMMUNITIES OF COLOR, PARTICULARLY IN BLACK COMMUNITIES
- While the majority of gun deaths nationally are suicides, the opposite is true for communities of color. Homicides account for 58% of Hispanic gun deaths and 82% of Black gun deaths.
- Black Americans represent over 58% of all gun homicide victims despite only comprising 13% of the U.S. population.
- The gun homicide rate for Hispanic victims is more than double that for white victims.
- Black Americans are over 11 times more likely than white Americans to die by gun homicide.
- In 2017, 57% of black adults said they knew someone who has been shot, compared with 43% of whites.
- Homicide is the second leading cause of death for Hispanics ages 15 to 24.
- Black children and teens (0-19) are 14 times more likely than white children and teens to die by gun homicide.
- More than two-thirds of Hispanic murder victims are killed with guns.
- Gun violence is the leading cause of injury-related death for Black children and teens (0-19).
STOPPING THE FLOW OF CRIME GUNS
- According to ATF’s latest data, about 5% of gun dealers are responsible for about 90% of recovered crime guns.
- Most gun dealers are responsible — 86% of dealers do not have even a single crime gun traced to their business in a given year.
- Amazingly, there is no federal law on gun trafficking.
- Lost and stolen guns from gun dealers are a huge source of crime guns in America:
- Between 2012 and 2019, over 139,000 guns were reported lost or stolen from gun dealers, 61% of them reported “lost.”
- Between 2004 and 2011, almost 175,000 guns were reported lost or stolen from gun dealers.
- Lost and stolen guns don’t just disappear into thin air, they often are redirected to the illegal market and end up on America’s street.
- ATF doesn’t currently require gun dealers to follow common sense business practices, and instead issues voluntary guidance, including on locking up inventory or giving their employees background checks.
- ATF is also not doing their job to keep gun dealers responsible, and regularly downgrades penalties for dealers that break the law.
- In fact, ATF is supposed to inspect at least 20% of gun dealers every year, but fails regularly. In 2019, ATF only inspected 10% of the 130,000 gun dealers in America.
- Less than 0.5% of dealers had their licenses revoked.
POLICE VIOLENCE IS GUN VIOLENCE
- Police violence is the unlawful, unnecessary, or disproportionate use of force by police. Because police violence, in all of its forms, is facilitated by the direct use, threat, or perceived threat of firearms, not only to the victims but also bystanders with intent to intervene, police violence is gun violence.
- The rate of police violence in America far exceeds that in similar industrialized countries — interactions with an American police officer are 10 times more likely to end in death than police encounters in the U.K..
- Black men are 2.8 times more likely to be the victims of deadly police force than their white peers.
- Similarly, Latino men face higher lifetime risk of being killed by police than do their white peers.
- Black and Latinx citizens are three times as likely to be searched by police when stopped, and are twice as likely to have force used or threatened whenever they’re approached by police.
- In the four weeks leading to George Floyd’s death, there was an average of over 23 fatal police shootings each week.
- Among Black Americans, 93% reported that police treatment of Black Americans was one of the most important, or the most important, issue determining their vote for president, ranking higher than any other issue.
- Despite only comprising 13% of the U.S. population, Black individuals account for over 38% of the prison population in 2020.
THE PUBLIC HEALTH CARE COSTS OF GUN VIOLENCE
- The total charges associated with emergency department visits and inpatient management of firearm-related injuries for individuals younger than 18 years old amounts to $270 million per year.
- The cost of initial hospitalizations alone for victims of gunshots is more than $700 million annually in the United States. Average initial hospitalization cost per patient is approximately $24,000-32,000.
- Medicaid covered $2.3 billion of the $6.6 billion in costs related to initial hospital stays for gunshot victims from 2006-2014.
- American trauma centers treat 1,565 gunshot wounds each week.
SAFE STORAGE & FAMILY FIRE
- “Family fire” is a shooting involving an improperly stored or misused gun in the home that results in death or injury. Unintentional shootings, suicide, and intentional shootings are all forms of family fire.
- 8 children and teens are unintentionally injured or killed each day by family fire.
- 4.6 million children live in a home with an unlocked, loaded firearm.
- Among children, 89% of unintentional shooting deaths occur in the home.
- Keeping guns locked and unloaded was found to have a protective effect against unintentional shootings and suicide amoung youth, reducing odds of death by 73%.
- Storing ammunition separately from a firearm reduces the risk of an unintentional shooting among youth by 61%.
- Over 70% of kids know where the guns in their homes are stored, and one study showed that 1 in 5 parents who said their child never handled guns without supervision were contradicted by their child’s reports.
- More than 70% of the guns used in pediatric suicide attempts were stored in their own residence, or the resident of a relative or friend.
- Firearm owners who keep their firearms locked or unloaded were at least 60% less likely to die from firearm related suicide than those who store their firearms unlocked and/or loaded.
- About 60% of gun deaths are suicides — an average of 22,926 per year.
- In 2018, over 24,400 individuals in America died by firearm suicide.
- That means someone died by gun suicide every 21 and a half minutes.
- Firearms are extremely lethal compared to other commonly used methods in suicide attempts — less than 10% of all suicidal acts are fatal, but 90% of suicidal acts with a firearm result in death.
- The most common attempted method of suicide, drug overdose, is fatal in less than 3% of cases.
- Access to a gun in the home increases the risk of suicide death by 300%.
- Suicide is implusive, and preventable. Most decisions about suicide, occur within less than an hour of thinking about them. If lethal means such as firearms are inaccessible, the risk of suicide drops dramaticall.
- A second chance is critical, nine in 10 survivors of suicide attempts will not go on to die by suicide.
VETERANS, THE MILITARY, AND FIREARM SUICIDE
GUN VIOLENCE AGAINST LAW ENFORCEMENT
- Guns in the hands of prohibited individuals pose an imminent risk to law enforcement — the number one cause of death for law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty is firearms.
- Assault-style guns are the weapon behind the death of one out of every five law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty by guns in 2016 and 2017.
- Between 2010 and 2019, 511 police officers were murdered in the line of duty — over 92% of them were killed with firearms, while 6% were killed by vehicles and only 0.5% were killed with knives.
- Between 2009 and 2018, 1062 police officers were assaulted in the line of duty and survived — 74% of them were assaulted with firearms (786 assaults).
GHOST GUNS & 3D-PRINTED GUNS
- Ghost guns are untraceable firearms, that undermine all existing gun laws.
- Most commonly, ghost guns are firearms that are constructed from “unfinished” frames or receivers by individuals who don’t have a manufacturing license from the federal government.
- Frames and receivers are the only part of a firearm that ATF regulates as firearms themselves. If you are able to make one at home, all other parts needed to complete the firearm can also be purchased without a background check.
- Ghost guns are designed and marketed to circumvent federal regulations, they are often sold as kits that include all the pieces and tools necessary to complete them.
- These untraceable weapons have been linked nationwide to homicides, suicides, school shootings, mass shootings, robberies, the shooting deaths of law enforcement officers, and acts of domestic violence.
- In 2020, the Los Angeles division of the ATF recently said that almost half of their cases are focused on ghost guns.
- In Washington, D.C., only 3 ghost guns were recovered in 2017, and skyrocketed up to 116 in 2019 (at least four were tied to murders).
- In August 2019, an ex-con used a semi-automatic ghost gun to shoot three California Highway Patrol officers, one fatally.
- Recent technology has opened the door to “3-D printed guns,” a type of ghost gun made with three-dimensional printers.
- These guns can be made almost entirely of plastic, rendering most modern security devices like metal detectors ineffective in detecting their presence.
- More commonly, 3D printers are used to build frames or receivers, the only regulated piece of a firearm, which allows prohibited individuals to evade background checks.
- The release of the digital files that makes this technology feasible allows any person to make untraceable guns without serial numbers, background checks, waiting periods, permits, and other state and federal requirements for gun ownership.
- In February 2019, a Texas man who was prohibited possessing firearms was sentenced to eight years in prison for carrying a gun with 3-D printed parts. He had a “hit list” of law- makers; presumably potential targets.
- All 3D-printed guns are ghost guns, but most ghost guns are not 3D printed.