League of Women Voters
Gun Safety Coalition call report
February 4, 2019
7:00 p.m. – 7:45 p.m.
The telephone conference was opened by a welcome from Patti Brigham, LWV of Florida.
Oshane McCrary of the Center for American Progress gave an update on Federal action:
On WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 6, for the first time in 8 years, there will be a hearing for a bill to enact universal background checks. It is HR 8 – The Bipartisan Background Check Act of 2019, and would require background checks for every firearm purchase. It will be marked up and voted on in the next couple of weeks. This is the number #1 action call right now…..contact your representatives and encourage them to vote for its passage. It has 228 co-sponsors; 5 of whom are Republicans. It looks likely to pass, as there are 218 votes needed. It is being heard in the Judiciary Committee
On the Center for American Progress website (at the very bottom of its opening page) is a powerful two-minute video about letting our legislators know that we will vote on the basis of support for gun reform.
The guest speakers were introduced. Amber Goodwin and Awo Eni were with us from the Community Justice Action Fund.
Amber is located in Houston. She has been working with Gabbi Gifford. When the Charleston shooting occurred four years ago (Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church) she became more active. Communities of Color were being affected by gun violence, but nothing was being legislated. The Community Justice Reform Coalition saw that the urban community wasn’t being included in the dialogue. She spoke of the need for policy to be let by survivors, in communities affected by gun violence.
There are policies that are evidence-based – proven efficacy. The goal is to put the responsibility back on the policy makers:
- Fund proven methods to reduce gun violence. The Black community is decimated by homicides. There are proven methods of intervention.
- Create trust, justice, and equity between communities and law enforcement.
- Support initiatives to reduce gender-based violence. We must support domestic policies to include intimate partner violence.
- Children must be protected from gun violence. Education on safe storage; guns are not acceptable in the hands of children.
- Close dangerous loopholes with gun dealers. Address traffic between states.
- Remove barriers to research. Gun violence must be funded as a Public Health Issue, with support from local Health Departments and the CDC.
- Address hate crime head on! Acknowledge the connection between hate and gun violence.
It is our responsibility to pass legislation to make our communities safer. We must support positive legislation, and introduce it where none exists.
We must partner with local organizations, and uplift local organizations.
Florida is seeing success with Child Access Prevention through promoting trigger locks. They have support from the Veterans Administration. They are actively seeking funding to promote this initiative.
Florida is also working on legislation to ban assault weapons. They plan to put it on the ballot in 2020 as a Citizens’ Initiative.
Discussion on the number of guns in the Black urban community: Many are stolen, and there is an illegal flow from surrounding states. Chicago has very strict gun laws, but there is a known stream coming from Gary and Milwaukee – in states with weaker laws. It was also stated that communities need resources and skills to improve life so that they don’t resort to using guns.
Violence Against Women Act. The act expired during the government shutdown. There is no available funding, so action must be taken to see that it is renewed and funded. As an example of its reach – during 2017 there were over 350,000 calls to its hotline.
There also needs to be research into the intersection of suicide and gun access. We must encourage resources for trauma and healing within communities. Law enforcement officers are also increasingly resorting to suicide.
Doctors are becoming more vocal. The Giffords PAC and Doctors for America are promoting hospital-based interventions. All members are encouraged to reach out to doctors via email.
Florida – is expanding the Guardian Program – to arm teachers. It is being expanded to include all teachers who are trained. There is tremendous push-back from teachers.
Indiana has a bill introduced HB 1284. It would expand Indiana’s dangerous “Stand Your Ground” law by granting civil immunity to people who use deadly force against their fellow citizens. This bill would make it nearly impossible to take shooters to court for harming others.
The meeting ended at 7:45.
HR 8 – on the federal level – Universal Background Checks
HB 1284 on the state level – Expanded Stand Your Ground
Judy Forkan Kapoun