"Congress has done something remarkable. They've done nothing." The very true observation Mark Kelly, husband of Gabby Giffords, Navy Captain, astronaut, and proud gun owner stated during a Hearst MasterClass discussion today on reducing gun violence. And, instead of working to pass common sense policies, Congress has in effect waged a war against women by allowing stalkers, sexual assaulters, and harassers the right to purchase a gun. "Dangerous people with guns are a danger to women...for moms, for families, for me and you...it becomes our problem," Giffords went on to say. "Women can lead the way. We stand for possibilities. We win elections. Please join your voice with mine."
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Griffin
To make matters worse, domestic abusers take advantage of loop holes in our current laws, like slow record reporting—once a restraining order is signed by a judge, it could take up to two weeks for that order to hit the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Each month, 90 women are killed at the hands of an intimate partner, that's 3 per day, according to NNEDV.org. "The sad truth in our country is that 11 times more women are likely to be killed by a gun than in any other high-income country," Kelly stated. The biggest issue there is that domestic abusers who take a plea bargain to reduce their sentence to a "lesser crime", sexual assault, stalking, or harassment, are still able to buy a gun at gun shows or online. That's right, domestic abusers who take a misdemeanor plea—stalking, harassment, or sexual abuse—can obtain a gun.
It was just weeks before the two-year anniversary of the Gabby Giffords shooting in Arizona on December 14, 2012 that the Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre occurred, killing 20 children and 6 adults.It also marked the day that Giffords and Kelly realized much more needed to be done. On January 8, 2013—the actual anniversary of the Arizona shooting in which U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others were shot during a constituent gathering in a Safeway parking lot—Giffords and Kelly announced their organization Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS). The ARS aims to protect our communities from gun violence and close loop holes that our current gun laws have created. "We are fed up with gun violence in our communities...after what happened in Sandy Hook, Santa Barbara...it's enough," Kelly solemnly stated.
"Responsible gun owners are left out of the discussion and when they are included, they are demonized," Kelly remarked. It's not about the gun, but the person. Most of the acts of violence in these mass shootings are those with mental illness. Current federal guidelines prohibit the reporting of a mentally ill patient based on privacy laws, like HIPAA. "Perhaps that line should be drawn in a different place, so that information can get into the NICS without further negatively impacting those people's lives," Kelly supposed. "We have to change the politics, not the policies," he continued, "There are a lot of members in Congress who make decisions based on how it will affect their next election, instead of how it will impact their constituents' lives."
What can you do? You can hold your Congressman responsible and make sure they are standing up for your rights. "We've sent people to the moon in the 1960's, surely we can figure this out. We just need to be committed and have people vote," Kelly concluded. Support lawmakers who are willing to take a stand, and encourage those who are heavily influenced by the gun lobby to stand up for women and our safety.
Show your support today by signing the petition here.