After the NRA deleted their archive of lawmaker ratings, a top gun safety group steps in to help
Last week the Washington Post discovered that the National Rifle Association had, without explanation, quietly erased their online database tracking lawmaker “grades” on gun issues. The organization had long assigned letter grades to elected officials based on their compliance with each NRA demand; those that voted against new gun legislation or voted for new attempts to weaken gun safety laws got “A” grades, and lawmakers who did not bend to their demands got lower grades.
There was no announcement from the NRA; the ratings were simply gone. Was it an error? Was it intended? The only comment that could be pried from the domestic terrorism lobbying group was an anonymous staffer who opined “I think our enemies were using that.”
But there’s good news, NRA! One of the nation’s leading gun safety groups has helpfully reconstructed the list and made it available to the public! Aren’t you happy?
The grades, which thanks to the group Everytown for Gun Safety are now available for download here, stretch back to 2009. You can use it to find out that House Speaker Paul Ryan has gotten an A or A+ rating from the NRA every time they have graded him, making him a loyal foot soldier in the effort to protect mass shooters from unfair gun restrictions. Marco Rubio got a shameful, shameful B+ during his 2010 Senate bid, but thanks to some good and proper toadying was able to pop up to an A+ rating by the time 2016 rolled around. Rick Scott earned the same cherished A+ rating during his own last campaign—and it’s probably only a coincidence that some of the most horrific mass murders in America have happened under his watch, in his state.
Aren’t you just thrilled, National Rifle Association? These grades will no longer be lost to history. Everyone will be able to once again look up whether their lawmaker has been a sniveling coward catering to the domestic terrorism lobby or a voice, at long sodding last, for basic sanity. And you won’t even have to pay for it! That’s probably important, seeing how you’ve been so hard up for cash of late that you’ve had to ask your Russian friends to help you with your usual campaign efforts.
The country’s largest doctor group just took its most aggressive stance on gun control yet
The AMA overwhelmingly voted to get behind a slew of gun control measures this week.
The American Medical Association (AMA), the US’s largest physician group, officially endorsed a variety of gun control measures on Tuesday.
According to Lindsey Tanner at the Associated Press, the AMA, which represents nearly a quarter of the US’s physicians, backed several new gun laws at its annual policy meeting. Here are some examples, from the AP:
- A minimum age requirement of 21 to own or buy guns and ammo
- Licensing and safety course requirements for gun owners
- Registration requirements for all firearms
- Closing loopholes that allow people with a legal history of domestic abuse to buy or own guns
- Measures that allow courts, upon a relative’s request, to remove guns from homes in which a person is imminently violent or suicidal
- Better training of doctors on screening suicide risk
Support for the policy platform was overwhelming — with a vote of 446 to 99 that included backing from some doctors who own guns, according to the AP.
In the past, the AMA has backed other gun control approaches. As the AP reported, “it has supported past efforts to ban assault weapons; declared gun violence a public health crisis; backed background checks, waiting periods and better funding for mental health services; and pressed for more research on gun violence prevention.”
But the latest vote signals a more aggressive approach by the AMA as gun violence gets more attention due to high-profile mass shootings, such as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, in February.
There’s good reason for that extra attention: The US still far outpaces its developed peers when it comes to gun violence. And the research suggests that the nation’s lax gun laws are a major reason for the higher rates of gun deaths.
America’s unique gun violence problem
The US has nearly six times the gun homicide rate of Canada, more than seven times that of Sweden, and nearly 16 times that of Germany, according to United Nations data compiled by the Guardian. (These gun deaths are a big reason America has a much higher overall homicide rate, which includes non-gun deaths, than other developed nations.)
Mass shootings actually make up a small fraction of America’s gun deaths, constituting less than 2 percent of such deaths in 2016. But America does see a lot of these horrific events: According to CNN, “The US makes up less than 5% of the world’s population, but holds 31% of global mass shooters.”
So why is the US such an outlier? Researchers widely believe it’s due to America’s tremendous abundance of and access to guns. According to estimates, in 2007 the number of civilian-owned firearms in the US was 88.8 guns per 100 people, meaning there was almost one privately owned gun per American and more than one per American adult. The world’s second-ranked country was Yemen, a quasi-failed state torn by civil war, where there were 54.8 guns per 100 people.
The research, compiled by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Injury Control Research Center, is clear: After controlling for variables such as socioeconomic factors and other crime, places with more guns have more gun deaths. Researchers have found this to be true not just with homicides but also with suicides (which in recent years accounted for around 60 percent of US gun deaths), domestic violence, and even violence against police.
As a breakthrough analysis by UC Berkeley’s Franklin Zimring and Gordon Hawkins in the 1990s found, it’s not even that the US has more crime than other developed countries. This chart, based on data from Jeffrey Swanson at Duke University, shows that the US is not an outlier when it comes to overall crime:
Instead, the US appears to have more lethal violence — and that’s driven in large part by the prevalence of guns.
”A series of specific comparisons of the death rates from property crime and assault in New York City and London show how enormous differences in death risk can be explained even while general patterns are similar,” Zimring and Hawkins wrote. “A preference for crimes of personal force and the willingness and ability to use guns in robbery make similar levels of property crime 54 times as deadly in New York City as in London.”
This is in many ways intuitive: People of every country get into arguments and fights with friends, family, and peers. But in the US, it’s much more likely that someone will get angry at an argument and be able to pull out a gun and kill someone.
Stronger gun laws could help combat this. A 2016 review of 130 studies in 10 countries, published in Epidemiologic Reviews, found that new legal restrictions on owning and purchasing guns tended to be followed by a drop in gun violence — a strong indicator that restricting access to guns can save lives. A review of the US evidence by RAND also linked some gun control measures, including background checks, to reduced injuries and deaths.
But the US maintains some of the weakest gun laws in the developed world. Until America confronts that issue, it will continue seeing more shootings than the rest of the developed world.
For more on America’s gun problem, read Vox’s explainer.
Pennsylvania eighth graders issued bulletproof backpack plates as graduation gift
The entire graduating class at a Pennsylvania middle school was gifted bulletproof backpack plates as they prepare to head to high school next year.
Students at St. Cornelius in Chadds Ford, Pa., were outfitted with the “ballistic shields” thanks to a donation from a local company, according to Fox 29. The report notes that Unequal Technologies developed the ultra-thin shield and designed a 10-by-12-inch plate that can slip into a backpack.
The bulletproof backpack plates were also handed out to 25 faculty members at the school.
“I never thought I’d need this,” one student told Fox 29.
But parents and guardians of students told the news outlet that while a bulletproof backpack may be extreme, it’s necessary.
“You hear about these school shootings almost weekly, and I can’t believe that’s where we are in our nation today, but that’s the fact,” said one great-grandparent.
Unequal president Rob Vito argued handguns and shotguns are “useless” against a product like the one the company gifted the students.
The gift comes as recent deadly school shootings in places like Parkland, Fla. and Santa Fe, Texas, draw further attention to school safety.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) recently unveiled a new proposal that calls, in part, for the funding of firearms training programs for school officials.
Dick’s Sporting Goods will destroy assault-style rifles pulled from shelves
When Dick’s Sporting Goods said it would no longer sell modern sporting rifles at its Field & Stream stores following the Valentine’s Day shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school, one question was what would happen to the unsold firearms in its inventory.
Typically a retailer may return unsold merchandise to the manufacturer. But in this case, Dick’s Sporting Goods has decided to destroy them.
“We are in the process of destroying all firearms and accessories that are no longer for sale as a result of our February 28th policy change,” a spokeswoman told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We are destroying the firearms in accordance with federal guidelines and regulations.”
The so-called assault-style rifles will be destroyed at the company’s distribution centers and the parts sent to a salvage company to be recycled, the Findlay-based retailer added. The company did not say how much merchandise would be included.
The new gun sales policy at Dick’s Sporting Goods had backing from the Sisters of Mercy
In addition to the decision on pulling assault-style rifles from its 35 specialty Field & Stream locations, the sporting goods chain said in February that it also would no longer sell high capacity magazines or sell firearms to anyone under 21 years old following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Dick’s is facing two lawsuits over the new age limit on firearm purchases.
This is not the first time that the sporting goods retailer has changed its gun sale policies.
Following the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the retailer had pulled modern sporting rifles from its namesake stores nationwide. When it later opened its specialty Field & Stream stores, it introduced the modern sporting rifles to its product line there.
The company did not comment on what it did with the firearms it pulled from its Dick’s stores in 2012.
Stephanie Ritenbaugh: firstname.lastname@example.org; 412-263-4910; Twitter: @StephanieRit
The April 7, IL06 Town Hall for Our Lives in Glen Ellyn was an incredible achievement by the students from three area high schools who organized it. The students invited Rep. Peter Roskam, who declined along with every Republican member of congress nationwide. Democratic candidate, Sean Casten, answered scores of questions on gun violence prevention from students and other attendees.
Prompted by public outcry, Arlington Heights urges state to pass more gun control measures – Chicago Tribune – Arlington Heights Post
Supreme Court leaves in place California’s 10-day wait for gun buyers, rejects 2nd Amendment challenge – LA Times
Everytown took out this 2-page ad in the NYT today listing off members of Congress, their phone numbers and how much NRA money they’ve taken
Teen speaks clearly on gun control: ‘We’re children … get something done’
This teenager isn’t afraid to speak out
David Hogg is not mincing words. The 17-year-old senior survived Wednesday’s school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 people, and he wants action. “We’re children,” he said. “You guys are the adults. You need to take some action and play a role. Work together. Come over your politics and get something done.” Here’s what we know about the shooting. The suspect, former student Nikolas Cruz, 19. bought his gun legally and appeared in court Thursday. Authorities have not yet publicly identified the victims, but friends, family and coaches are sharing their memories. And this is on a lot of minds: Why the National Rifle Association has so much clout in Washington.
#DisarmHate Congressional Media Clips – July 1, 2
Court: No right to carry concealed weapons in public
A Weekend in Chicago: Where Gunfire Is a Terrifying Norm – New York Times
#WearOrange Party for Peace – NBC5Chicago News Broadcast Link
NWSOFA GVP Partners with GVP Groups and Meets with Gabby Giffords
Concealed Carry Permit Applications Drop Across Illinois – AP via Daily Herald
President Obama Shares His Personal Thoughts Three Years After Sandy Hook via Facebook
This photo was taken two days later, when I went to Newtown and visited with the families of the victims. It was a town that could be any town in America. They were grieving moms and dads, brothers and sisters, spouses missing the center of their lives at Christmastime – good and decent people who could have been any of our loved ones.
Three years on, how do we tell them that their Congress hasn’t done anything to prevent what happened to them from happening to other families?
Soon after the shootings, I took a series of executive actions within my power to reduce gun violence and keep more of our kids safe. Their governor in Connecticut, Dan Malloy, worked with his legislature to pass some commonsense gun safety reforms – reforms that didn’t infringe upon anyone’s right to bear arms, but actually might have prevented another massacre in the meantime. And two United States senators – a Democrat from West Virginia and a Republican from Pennsylvania, both gun owners, both strong defenders of our Second Amendment rights, both with “A grades” from the NRA – worked together to write a commonsense compromise bill that would have required virtually everyone who buys a gun to get a background check. That’s it. Dangerous people would no longer get to play by a different set of rules than responsible gun owners who bought their guns the right way. Pretty commonsense stuff.
But the gun lobby and its allies mobilized to paint that compromise reform as an assault on our freedom. And even though background checks were supported by some 90% of the American people and a majority of NRA households, the Senate surrendered, voting to block those background checks – even with the families of Newtown in attendance.
Since then, tens of thousands of our fellow Americans have been mowed down by gun violence. Tens of thousands. More kids have lost siblings. More parents have lost children. More husbands and wives have had to bury the love of their life. Sometimes, it’s hard to put specific numbers on this epidemic and its causes – because Congress has actually prevented the CDC, our leading public health agency, from conducting serious research into gun violence. Did you know that? Some years ago, they actually voted to make it harder for public health experts to conduct research into gun violence – but even after San Bernardino, they’ve refused to make it harder for terrorist suspects to buy semi-automatic weapons.
Every time this happens, we’re told that commonsense reforms like background checks might not have stopped the last massacre, or the one before that, so we shouldn’t do anything. We’re not fools – we know that we can’t heal every troubled mind, or stop every act of violence.
But what if we tried to stop even one? What if Congress did something – anything – to save one American, or a classroom of Americans, or a stadium’s worth of Americans from losing their lives to gun violence in the years to come?
I refuse to give up on this. Because I still believe that we can do better. I still believe that we can get this right. We may not have a Congress that’s willing to work with us on this right now. So the rest of us will have to do what we can. I recently tasked my team at the White House to take another look at any other actions I can take to help reduce gun violence. And if you care about this, then please help me – whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican, or neither. We especially need the help of responsible gun owners who grieve with us every time this happens, and feel like your views aren’t being properly represented. I know there are a lot of you. I’ve heard from you. I’ve read your letters and emails.
Let me be absolutely clear – like I’ve said many times before, I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. Period. No matter how many times people try to paint me as holding a different position. I also believe that most gun owners agree that we can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible, law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale. I believe there is a rational, bipartisan majority in America who agrees that we all have the right to worship freely and safely; the right to assemble peaceably; the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – and who doesn’t want to see those rights taken from us, as they were taken from worshipers in Charleston and Oak Creek; moviegoers in Aurora and Lafayette; students in Blacksburg and Roseburg, Columbine and Newtown, and kids on street corners in Chicago too often to tolerate.
Change, as always, is going to take all of us – from the grassroots up. The gun lobby is loud and organized in its defense of effortlessly available guns for anyone. The rest of us are going to have to be just as passionate and organized in our defense of our kids.
America, this will change – but only when we stand up, together, and demand it.
One Injured After Shots Fired Between Moving Cars in Rolling Meadows Police suspect the shooting was gang-related – Patch, 12-13-15
Gun TV, a channel that lets people order firearms from home, is launching in the US
From Business on Flipboard
As insomniacs and impulse shoppers around the world can attest, home television shopping networks can make people covet never-before-contemplated…
Read it on Flipboard
Read it on qz.com
Public health joining with new partners to fight gun violence: More than 33,000 US deaths in 2014 – The Nation’s Health
NWSOFA GVP Team Partner Event with People For A Safer Society
As you may know, last week the Village of Niles approved the extension for the special use permit allowing the gun shop and firing range planned for 6143 Howard Street in Niles to proceed with plans to begin construction. We are not giving up and we appreciate your support. Here is some news coverage:
This week there are two opportunities for you to support our efforts to stop the gun shop and shooting range from opening. We will be seeking support on this issue at the following meetings:
Skokie Village Board meeting – Monday, August 3 at 8:00 pm at the Skokie Village Hall located at 5127 Oakton in Skokie.
District 219 Board meeting – Tuesday, August 4 at 6:45 pm at the District Office located at 7700 Gross Point Road in Skokie.
Denyse Stoneback will speak during public comments about the location of the gun shop at both meetings, seeking support from the Village of Skokie and District 219. We don’t want a lot of people making comments, as that may have a negative effect on board members. But your presence in support will speak volumes. If you have a green ribbon, or something green, please wear it as a sign of support.
Thank you for working to make a safer society!
Articles on Gun Violence Prevention – Suggested by Members of the NWSOFA GVP Team
“After Charleston Voters Must Demand New Gun Laws,” Scot Lehigh: Boston Globe.
A recent Op-Ed column from the Boston Globe addressing politics surrounding gun violence prevention, the NRA, and Congressional failure to take action to reduce gun violence in America.
“What Does Gun Violence Really Cost?” Mark Follman, Julia Lurie, Jaeah Lee, and James West: Mother Jones.
Interesting report published in Mother Jones earlier this year covering an extensive investigation of the true costs of gun violence in America.
“Tracing the Guns: The Impact of Illegal Guns on Violence in Chicago,”
City of Chicago – Office of the Mayor and Chicago Police Department.
Data based research report investigating the impact of illegal guns on violent crime in Chicago and on the scope of the City’s illegal gun market. This report includes eye-opening information on the small percentage of gun dealers that sell most of the guns used in criminal activities. The report is interesting but somewhat lengthy. If you want to go to the heart of the issue, start about halfway down Page 6 with Section II B.
“Children and Guns: The Hidden Toll,” Michael Luo and Mike McIntire: New York Times
An in-depth report on accidental firearm deaths of American children, covering both how such shootings occur and ways in which they might be prevented.
- How America Wound Up With a Gun Background Check System Built More for Speed Than Certainty The almost-forgotten story of the Gekas amendment. – The Trace
What can you do to help prevent gun violence?
Community Group Sues 3 Chicago Suburbs Over Gun Sales
Informational Articles on Guns in Chicago and Illinois
NWSOFA Gun Violence Prevention Team Joins Coalition Partners at Chuck’s Gun Shop Rally
On June 2, you helped show that Americans nationwide are ready to do what it takes to end gun violence in our country. But #WearingOrange isn’t just about one day of awareness. It’s about doing everything we can to save lives today, tomorrow and every day.
THANK YOU for making Wear Orange the incredible success it was. We’re going to go even bigger next year. Make sure to mark your calendar for June 2, 2016!
Director of Cultural Engagement
Everytown for Gun Safety
P.S. If you didn’t grab a Wear Orange tee or pin before they sold out, I encourage you to get them now and wear them proudly every day. Your purchase helps fuel our movement to end gun violence.
Gun Violence Prevention – We Are the Majority
- Your Right to Carry vs. My Right to Evacuate – DailyKos
- Moms Demand Action
- GVP July 2014 Chapter Meeting Flyer
- National ASK Day – June 21, 2014
- At Least 40 Shot In Chicago Weekend Wave Of Violence
- Illinois State Police
Download the sign that every Illinois homeowner, business, school, house of worship and hospital – by law – must display to keep concealed guns from being carried inside their dwelling/buildings. Also for any and all questions you have regarding the Illinois concealed carry law – this is where you can get answers. Many local police departments right now are referring all questions about the concealed carry law to this site.
- It Can Happen Here
This group asks people to take action locally and nationally in the areas of bullying, education, gun safety, mental healthcare, parenting and poverty.
- Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation
Started by Scarlett Lewis, mother of Jesse Lewis, a 6 year old at Sandy Hook whose heroic efforts saved the lives of many of his classmates and who died with his teacher, Victoria Soto, this foundation is designed to promote curriculum in schools to promote the loving acts of kindness and love over actions based on anger.
- Nurturing, Healing, Love
This is an amazing book by Scarlett Lewis, mother of Jesse Lewis, a 6 year old student who was killed at Sandy Hook. Her powerful testimony speaks of the power of forgiveness.
- We Are Newtown
Get involved with making a difference in the world and honoring the 26 victims of Newtown through your acts of kindness. This site will help get you started.
- Illinois politicians and where they stand on gun control
- letters to lawmakers.pdf – 81.7KB
- NewtownChangesEverything.pdf – 5.17MB
- Not One More Video – http://youtu.be/tInvbiCvCkM
- Recruit Republican co-sponsors in the House to build support for Thompson King bipartisan bill. This bill seeks to strengthen background checks on gun purchases and is identical to the Senate bipartisan bill sponsored by Senators Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa).
- Work with Coalition Partners who share a similar vision. These partners include the Illinois Coalition Against Handgun Violence, Mom’s Demand Action, Citizen Action IL, Rainbow Push and the Urban League.
- Maintain a steady legislative focus on two specific House Republican Representatives from Illinois. Contact Rep. Rodney Davis (District 13) and tell him to: “Do the right thing…the time to act is now” and also contact Rep. Aaron Schock (District 18th) and tell him: “This is an opportunity to be a leader on issue of GVP in your party.”
- Participate in the April 14th National Day of Action Event. The exact nature and details of this event will be announced soon by our Illinois OFA leadership team.
06/21/2014 – 06/22/2014 – http://www.momsdemandaction.org/
Moms Demand Action is suggesting that no one shop at Target on the weekend and instead shop at one of the stores they list at their website that do not favor open carry of weapons. They would like everyone to take a picture of themselves with a sign saying #OffTarget and send it to them at: email@example.com
02/11/2014 – Illinois Concealed Carry Law: What You Need to Know to Build Safer Communities for All Families and Businesses
Seating capacity at the Palatine Police Station Community Meeting room is limited. All seats will be held for those who have registered in advance at MyBO: https://my.barackobama.com/page/event/detail/gunviolencepreventionactionevent/gs83y2.
02/20/2014 – If you are interested in joining us and honoring all victims of gun violence through your individual actions to help make our communities safer, then come to our monthly Gun Violence Prevention Issues Group Planning Meeting at the Coffee Planet, 1450 Golf Rd., Rolling Meadows, 60008. We hold a short (30 – 45 minutes) Planning Meeting on the 3rd Thursday of every month and afterwards many of us stay to help out with the weekly NWSOFA Phone Banking. Our February meeting will be held on Thursday, February 20th at 6:30 pm. Thank you so much and we hope to see you at the Coffee Planet!