There Is Common Ground on Guns

 

As of 17 January 2018 America has experienced 2,183 shootings, 621 gun deaths, 30  children aged 0-11 shot or killed, 105 children aged 12-17 shot or killed since 01 January 2018, occompanied by 11 Mass shootings.
See Gun Violence Archive for statistics, maps, reports…
2017 delivered us 61,401 shootings, 15,570 gun deaths, 732 children aged 0-11 shot or killed, 3,233 children aged 12-17 shot or killed, occompanied by 345 Mass shootings.
Call your elected official and share your thoughts.

In states around the country, Republicans and

Democrats agree on the need to prevent

domestic violence. So why doesn’t Congress act?

                                           The NY Times Editorial Board DEC. 19 2017

“Few things unite America like the violence under our roofs.

Crimes of intimacy, crimes of passion, crimes at home. We all know someone who is affected, even if we don’t know who it is: Nearly 20 people per minute in the United States are physically abused by a loved one, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s one in three women in her lifetime, one in four men. More than one in five children are exposed to family violence as well. And it’s that trauma — the horrors witnessed by young people — that echoes most loudly across generations.

“Please stop. Just stop, Daddy. Just stop. Daddy, why are you doing this?” an 8-year-old begged.

“My wife,” a husband sobbed, “my wife just shot her kids.”

“Don’t worry about me, save my momma, don’t worry about me,” a 15-year-old pleaded to the police.

“Stay in the closet. Stay hidden in the closet,” a 911 operator told a 17-year-old trying to keep his 3-year-old sister safe.

Irrefutable evidence — and plain common sense — suggests that these devastating family dynamics are made exponentially more dangerous by something that many Americans bring into the home, an invited guest: a gun.

Every 16 hours an American woman is shot dead by a current or former spouse or dating partner, according to a 2016 Associated Press analysis of F.B.I. and state crime data. The presence of a gun in a home — no matter who owns the weapon — makes it five times as likely that domestic abuse will lead to a woman’s murder.

Every 16 hours an American woman is shot dead by a current or former domestic partner.

While the country is deeply divided over guns, it is united in its concern about domestic crimes. The closest thing to a consensus on increasing gun safety is most likely found in preventing people with documented histories of domestic violence from using guns in anger. In fact, that kind of unity has been achieved in the past — in 1996, when the federal government acted to protect families. In one of the last significant national gun safety improvements passed, the Senate voted 97 to 2, with one abstention, to prohibit those convicted in the assault of a spouse or a child or under a permanent protective order from owning or buying firearms.

“I am convinced that the overwhelming majority of Americans would agree with these basic principles: Wife beaters should not have guns,” said the measure’s main sponsor, Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey. “Child abusers should not have guns.”

This law, known as the Lautenberg Amendment, has done its job. Since it was enacted, nearly 195,000 people have been stopped from buying weapons, flagged in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System as violent offenders. The number of guns kept out of the hands of abusers is even higher.

Time has also revealed the law’s shortcomings. For one, what the American family looks like today is different from 20 years ago — and unless a couple is married or cohabiting as spouses, or unless two people have a child together, the federal prohibition doesn’t apply. That leaves abuse in many other relationships — grandparents, siblings, stepchildren, dating partners — uncovered. At the same time, new studies have shown that guns used against intimate partners and relatives also often end up killing many others: friends, law enforcement officers, churchgoers, total strangers. A majority of mass shootings in the United States today are related to family violence, as are nearly a quarter of all killings of police officers in the line of duty.

There’s little disagreement that these shootings should end, that laws should be better enforced, that criminals should be punished. Even the gun lobby supports legislative changes aimed at doing so. The only disagreements are over which criminals should be blocked from buying guns and which of their potential domestic targets deserve to be protected. While many gun rights advocates worry about encroachments on the right to bear arms, expanding the protections in the Lautenberg Amendment — a formula proven to prevent deaths while curbing the rights only of criminals — can hardly be cast as a major expansion of gun controls.

Several states, including North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin have paved the way. This patchwork of laws could be considerably strengthened by serious work on the federal level.

That would mean expanding the protections in the Lautenberg Amendment to include dating partners and family members beyond spouses and children, as well as those under a temporary protective order. In addition, the range of criminals barred from gun purchases should include anyone convicted of the crime of stalking. Finally, the police ought to be able to seize firearms when they know they’re likely to be turned on loved ones.

There are other protections that should be enacted, some of which have little or no effect on who bears arms. Deficiencies in the national background check system need to be fixed. For example, the Justice Department should be obliged to notify law enforcement agencies when convicted abusers try to purchase firearms, and law enforcement agencies should then alert the victims of those abusers. Judges also should do a better job of using laws already available to them, at their discretion, to protect families.

To be human is to be at the mercy of anger, our own and that of those around us. Keeping guns out of the hands of those who can’t harness their demons will keep Americans safer in their homes, safer around their children and safer as a nation.”

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