Sacramento California, August 4, 2019: Americans Against Gun Violence extends heartfelt sympathy to the friends, family, and community members of the more than 30 people who were killed in three separate mass shootings within the past week, including the shootings in El Paso and Dayton that occurred within the past 24 hours. We also extend sincere wishes for a prompt and complete recovery to the scores of other victims who suffered non-fatal injuries in these attacks. We condemn the shootings in the strongest terms along with the racist, anti-immigrant ideology and rhetoric that apparently motivated at least one of these shootings.
The United States is the only high income democratic country in the world in which mass shootings occur on a regular basis. But mass shootings account for only a small fraction of all gun related deaths in our country. Nearly 40,000 people are killed by guns in our country annually, and the rate of gun deaths in the United States is 10 times higher than in the other high income democratic countries of the world.
The reason for our extraordinarily high rate of gun violence is clear. The United States is not an outlier as compared with other high income democratic countries in terms of rates of mental illness or substance abuse; socio-economic inequality; or overall rates of violence. In fact, the rate of assault by any means other than guns in the United States is below the average rate for the other high income democratic countries of the world.
The difference that explains the extraordinarily high rate of gun violence in our country is the extraordinarily high number of guns in circulation, which is due, in turn, to our extraordinarily lax gun control laws as compared with all other high income democratic countries.
Americans Against Gun Violence calls for the urgent adoption of stringent gun control laws in the United States comparable to the laws that have long been in effect other high income democratic countries of the world. Specifically, we call for a complete ban on civilian ownership of all handguns and all automatic and semi-automatic rifles; for universal registration of all firearms and licensing of all gun owners; and for placing the burden of proof for firearm purchases on the person seeking to acquire a gun to show why he or she needs one and that he or she can handle one safely, not on society to prove that he or she meets certain narrow criteria for being prohibited from possessing a gun.
In order to adopt stringent gun control laws comparable to the laws in other high income democratic countries, we must overturn the rogue 2008 Heller decision, in which a narrow 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court reversed 207 years of legal precedent in ruling for the first time in U.S. history that the Second Amendment conferred any kind of individual right to own a gun unrelated to service in a well regulated militia. The Supreme Court will be reconsidering the Heller decision this fall in the case of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association versus New York City. Americans Against Gun Violence is actively working on an amicus brief in that case calling on the Court to reverse Heller.