Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence
For Immediate Release: July 8, 2015
Contact: Jonathan Hutson, jhutson [at] bradymail [dot] org
For the First Time, Charleston Families Come to Washington to Speak on the Issue;
Demand Congress to Catch up to the Six States That Have Expanded Brady Background Checks Since Sandy Hook
Washington, D.C. — On July 8, families and leaders from Charleston joined the Brady Campaign, members of Congress, and other families devastated by gun violence at a press conference on Capitol Hill demanding that Congress vote on a bipartisan bill to expand Brady background checks to the thousands of gun sales made every day online and at gun shows. The event took place nearly three weeks after the mass shooting at Mother Emanuel, the oldest AME church in the South.
“Charleston is a tragic reminder of the work Congress still has to do,” said Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “Across the country, we’re seeing a seismic shift to expand Brady background checks. In fact, since Sandy Hook, six states have expanded life-saving Brady background checks to all gun sales.
“Cynics and naysayers who dismiss Washington as too dysfunctional to finish the job are actually arming DC politicians with an excuse to continue their course of deadly inaction. Congress must act. Every day they don’t, lives are lost.”
The bipartisan bill, H.R. 1217, introduced in March 2015 by Reps. Peter King (R-NY) and Mike Thompson (D-CA), would prevent dangerous people like felons, fugitives, and domestic abusers from buying guns and would expand Brady background checks to include gun shows and online gun sales. Ninety percent of Americans support the measure, which does not impact the right of law-abiding citizens to buy a gun.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Assistant Democratic Leader Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-SC), and Thompson, chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, joined together with Gross, and Charleston community members who took a bus from Charleston to Capitol Hill to make their voices heard.
Of particular note were Andre Duncan of Charleston, nephew of Myra Thompson, one of the victims of the mass shooting on June 17; Louise Brown, age 80, a longtime member of the church who marched with Coretta Scott King and was close to all nine victims; Pastor Thomas Dixon of Charleston; and Rev. Charles Boyer, MBA, M.Div., who spoke on behalf of the national African Methodist Episcopal religious community.
Andre Duncan stated, “I'm here today for my Aunt Myra and to speak up on behalf of the Charleston community and all who are sick and tired of Congress ignoring the problem of gun violence. My aunt and the others who were killed led lives of hope and promise. They were taken far too soon. I will not rest until our legislators do what's right by expanding Brady background checks to gun shows and online sales. This will save lives. Period."
"I've seen a lot of heartache and lives cut short because of the horrible problem of gun violence in our country,” said Louise Brown, “but I refuse to give up for the sake of generations to come that will inherit the world we leave behind. When I marched with Coretta Scott King as a young woman, this was one of her dreams—that violence cease to plague our brethren—and this remains my hope today. Expanding Brady background checks makes this dream a reality and will, without a doubt, save lives."
“The Brady Law was not passed overnight and it didn’t happen immediately after a single mass shooting,” concluded Gross. “It took seven votes over six years and happened only when the drumbeat from the American public became so loud that elected leaders had no choice but to listen. Today we need to know which elected officials will vote to put public safety ahead of the corporate gun lobby. When H.R. 1217 comes to a vote, we can finish the job. It will happen.”
In the last Congress, the same measure garnered 188 co-sponsors. H.R. 1217 is expected to get at least as many House members to join. Beyond the House, the Brady Campaign is actively moving towards meeting with Presidential candidates and South Carolina senators.
Since the Brady Law was enacted with bipartisan support in 1994, Brady background checks have blocked more than 2.4 million gun sales to dangerous people including felons, fugitives, domestic abusers, and the severely mentally ill. Eighteen states have laws that expand Brady background checks. A recent study shows that states with expanded Brady background checks see 46 percent fewer women murdered with guns by intimate partners; 48 percent fewer law enforcement officers killed by handguns; and 48 percent fewer gun-related suicides. South Carolina, which has some of the nation’s weakest gun laws, ranks fifth among the states for gun homicides. According to the CDC, the gun murder rate in South Carolina is 41 percent higher than the national average.
The mission of the Brady organization is to create a safer America for all of us that will lead to a dramatic reduction in gun deaths and injuries. For more insight on gun violence prevention, follow us on Facebook and Twitter @BradyBuzz.