FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PROTECT MINNESOTA: WORKING TO END GUN VIOLENCE
Contact: Heather Martens (612) 205-7142, Joan Peterson (218) 428-6570,
or Leroy Duncan, Protect Minnesota (651) 645-3271.
PROTECT MINNESOTA RESPONDS TO NRA STATEMENT
ST PAUL, MINNESOTA (December 21, 2012) – In response to the NRA statement today that every school should have an armed police officer, Protect Minnesota Executive Director Heather Martens responded that the stance of gun lobbyist Wayne LaPierre is neither surprising nor in touch with reality.
“What this says is that this NRA top lobbyist would rather we spend billions of dollars than lift a finger to prevent mentally ill and dangerous people from getting access to firearms – even assault weapons – in the first place. That is astounding.”
Martens pointed out that there are about 2,600 public schools in Minnesota, compared to about 650 officers in the whole St. Paul Police Department, and about 650 agents in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to monitor all of this country’s tens of thousands of licensed gun dealers.
“The bottom line is that we have the right to be safe in our communities. But hanks to decades of work by the NRA lobbyists, we have the weakest gun laws in the industrialized world, and the highest rate of gun death by far.”
She noted that Columbine High School had armed guards during the massacre in 1999. “Since then, this country has set laws the way the NRA lobbyists wanted them. And the devastation their gun policy has caused American families has been horrific.”
The United States has a rate of homicide 7 times that of other wealthy nations, driven by a gun homicide rate that is 20 times higher, according to David Hemenway of the Harvard School of Public Health.
“There are measures we can take that have broad support in the American public, including gun owners, “Martens said. “That includes background checks before every gun purchase. There is also wide recognition that high-capacity magazines and assault weapons do not belong on our streets.”
Currently, only 60 percent of gun purchases are required to go through a background check. And still nearly 2 million purchases by prohibited buyers have been stopped by Federal checks since the Brady Background Check Act took effect in 1994. According to Republican national pollster Frank Luntz, three out of four NRA members supports a background check before every gun purchase. Overall in Minnesota, 82 percent of the public supports the idea. In Minnesota, there is also a local background check, which stops many potentially dangerous people from getting guns.
“It is time to require background checks for all gun purchases, and to allow law enforcement to act preventively on a person’s gun access when they encounter red-flag behaviors by potentially dangerous people. There is no need for the level of lethal firepower this shooter had to be readily available. It is time to do fix our broken gun laws,” Martens said. “We need to protect our right to be safe, not the notion that the right for anybody to buy a gun is more important than everything else.”
“The more-guns-more-places theory is completely discredited. If that theory worked, the first victim of Adam Lanza’s rampage, his mother, would still be alive. Nancy Lanza was a gun collector and accomplished shooter, killed in her own home surrounded by her guns. None of that did her any good,”
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