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This report provides a series of proposals that state legislators should enact in their states to help protect children from improperly stored firearms. These proposals include:Requiring adults to keep guns properly locked up or under their immediate control, whenever they have a reason to know a child is present or might have access to the area;Requiring gun dealers to ensure that all gun buyers, including buyers of rifles or shotguns, are provided with a gun lock or other safety device;Ensuring that appropriate safety information accompanies the sale or transfer of every gun by a licensed gun dealer;Prohibiting adults from allowing children to handle machine guns, even if they are supervised, due to the unusually dangerous nature of these weapons.This report provides arguments in support of these proposals, along with the legal and factual background for each proposal. It also provides a list of the features that make up a strong law on each topic. Too many families have needlessly suffered the horrific loss of a child due to an unsecured gun. It is our hope that this report will provide a "toolkit" for legislators and advocates who want to move forward to help prevent unintended gun deaths of children.
While most American gun owner take their responsibilities seriously, the constant news reports about shootings demonstrate that dangerous people can access guns too easily. These dangerous people often obtain guns through a gap in our nation's gun laws -- the loophole for unlicensed sales -- which enables many gun sellers to avoid conducting background checks. This report describes how criminals and other dangerous people exploit this loophole in the federal law. They know that, in many states, they can attend a gun show or search online and easily find people willing to sell a gun without a background check. It doesn't have to be this way. Requiring a background check before the sale or transfer of a gun is a commonsense solution to this problem that respects the rights of law-abiding, responsible gun owners, and protects public safety. As of December 2014, the following 18 states have extended a background check requirement to at least some unlicensed gun sales. This product provides arguments in support of this proposal, along with the legal and factual background. It also provides a list of the features of a strong law on this topic. It is our hope that this report will provide a "toolkit" for legislators and advocates who want to move forward with closing the loopholes in the background check system in their states and communities.
The vast majority of American gun owners are responsible and abide by the law. However, guns do not belong in the hands of domestic abusers and other people known to violently target women or others in relationships. When an abuser has access to firearms, the victim is 500 percent more likely to be murdered. Unfortunately, the federal laws intended to reduce domestic abusers' access to guns are filled with loopholes. These federal provisions do not apply to many known abusers, and states have sometimes struggled to effectively enforce these laws even when they do apply. The result is a constant stream of news reports about women and others killed by abusers with guns. States must take action to prevent further tragedies. This report provides a series of proposals that state legislators should consider enacting in their states to help protect women and families in abusive situations. These policies go beyond current federal law, but have been proposed in Congress.
Guns in the hands of the dangerously mentally ill have taken the lives of too many people. Mass shootings, like the shooting in a parking lot in Tucson, Arizona in January 2011, and the shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in July 2012, have brought this problem to the attention of the American public. Experts have objected to the media's emphasis on mentally ill mass shooters, because mental illness is not the cause of most forms of gun violence toward others. Nevertheless, mental illness certainly plays a role in this violence, as the recent surge in mass shootings demonstrates. In fact, mental illness plays an even greater role in gun suicides, many of which could be averted if guns were temporarily removed from the situation. Existing state laws do not do enough to remove access to guns from dangerously mentally ill people. This report provides a series of proposals that state legislators should consider to address this problem and save lives.
It is estimated that today there are about 4,000 websites dedicated to facilitating gun sales between private individuals. One of the largest of these sites -- Armslist.com -- essentially serves as an eHarmony or Craigslist for gun sales, connecting gun buyers and sellers in each of the 50 states. Buyers can search for-sale listings or want ads within their state or city, locate unlicensed sellers or buyers, and arrange to meet up in person to purchase guns. As long as the gun doesn't cross state lines or travel through the U.S. Postal System, 34 states allow these sales between strangers to take place unregulated and without criminal background checks. By contrast, 16 states require background checks for gun sales between private, unlicensed individuals like the stranger-to-stranger sales promoted on Armslist.com.In this study, we sought to determine if these laws make a difference. In particular, are there fewer online sales in states that require background checks compared to states that don't? Based on our survey of more than 90,000 online firearm listings, we conclude that online private sales are far more prevalent in states that do not require criminal background checks than among states that do. We recommend that states and Congress enact laws to require checks for these private sales and that gun safety organizations encourage private sellers to always use background checks when selling their firearms.