Position – Gun Violence

November 22, 2017

OUR POSITION

Gun violence is a public health crisis in the United States that causes unnecessary death and injury and must be addressed in every way possible.

OUR REASONS

There are too many guns in our country, nearly one firearm for each person.  Guns are present in approximately half of our homes, including homes with children.

The economic cost of gun violence in our country exceeds $229 billion each year.  The human cost each year is 33,000 deaths and 80,000 non-fatal injuries. 

Of the 33,000 who die by gunshot each year, more than 2,500 are children and teens younger than 20.  This is about seven children per day.  More than one-half of the children and teen deaths are homicides and more than one-third are suicides.  More than 1,300 victims of unintentional shootings for the period 2005–2010 were under 25 years of age. Hospitalizations for non-fatal gunshot injuries of children and teens are between two and three times the number of gunshot deaths.  In addition, the death rate from gun suicide among children is increasing rapidly, up 60 percent since 2007.

Although mass shootings grab more of our attention, people are far more likely to die by gun violence  one at a time.  For children, this happens too often at home, either on purpose or by accident.  About 75 percent of children who live in homes with guns know where guns are kept and about 33 percent have handled a gun at home.

These statistics are even worse in Missouri. Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, analyzed extensive crime data from Missouri and found that the state’s 2007 repeal of its permit-to-purchase handgun law “was associated with a 25 percent increase in firearm homicides rates.”

Between 2008 and 2014 the Missouri gun homicide rate rose to 47 percent higher than the national average.

In 2013, 2014, and 2015, gun deaths surpassed deaths by motor vehicles in the state.

As of 2017, Missouri was #12 among the top 20 states ranked for gun deaths.

 

“We have a problem with gun violence; we have too many guns on our streets; we have a problem with our guns laws,” said St. Louis Police Captain Mary Warneke.

 

OUR ADVOCACY POINTS

We advocate for strong grassroots pressure in support of common-sense gun regulations to counter the influence of the gun lobby. We support the following specific legal requirements:

–                 Background checks for all gun sales.

–                 A ban on all assault weapons.

–                 A limit on the amount of ammunition that can be purchased.

–                 A ban on the sale of tools, such as bump stocks, that turn semi-automatic weapons into completely automatic weapons.

–                 A ban on straw purchases of guns and ownership transfers without background checks.

–                 Defeat of proposed concealed-carry reciprocity legislation.

–                 More mental health services and treatment, which would help keep firearms out of the hands of people who are: seriously mentally ill or who present a danger to themselves or others; domestic violence perpetrators; and convicted criminals.

–                 An end to the ban on federal funding for gun violence research by government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

–                 Legal protection of doctors and other health care professionals so they can discuss firearm safety with patients.

We advocate for gun safety for families with children:

–                 We agree that safest homes for children are those without guns, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics

–                 We encourage parents who do keep guns at home to store them unloaded in a locked cabinet with a lock on each gun, and the bullets in a separate place from the gun.

–                 We urge parents to find out whether the homes of their children’s friends contain guns and, if so, be assured  that the guns are stored securely before their children go to visit, as advocated by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the American Academy of Pediatrics ASK program.