About States United to Prevent Gun Violence
Concerns Highlighted by the Trayvon Martin Case
Our state organizations have been very concerned, as have many groups and citizens, with the problems highlighted by the Trayvon Martin case. Over the last several years there have been laws pushed through many state legislatures with the backing of ALEC(American Legislative Exchange Council) and the gun lobby and with seemingly little thought as to consequences by legislators. These laws have made it harder for the average citizens to pursue life, liberty and happiness by allowing firearms in more and more places. These laws have made it easier for citizens to get carried concealed weapons permits, have expanded the places where hidden load guns can be carried and finally allowed vigilantism by changing the definition of self-defense. The Shoot First/Stand Your Ground Law highlighted by the Trayvon Martin case and now in 25 states eliminates the longstanding legal requirement that one has a duty to retreat if one can instead of using lethal force. Lethal force is supposed to be used as only a last resort. These laws turn that on its head in a way that not even police officers are allowed to behave. As Ceasefire Oregon says in its blog:
"There is an irrefutable fact: the average citizen with a conceal carry license is not even remotely trained like a policeman. They aren’t as versed in the laws, they haven’t been trained in crisis intervention, negotiation tactics, or how to remain rational or steady in a shootout, and they likely haven’t had as much practice with their weapon. Training requirements are little to none nearly anywhere in America for them, and they are less accountable to anyone for their potentially lethal decisions than law enforcement professionals. So the pro-gun daydream of saving the day with their guns is a potentially lethal one, not just for the criminal or the gun owner, but also for anyone who happens to be around them when the shootout happens."
Shoot First/Stand Your Ground laws are a serious problem but just as serious is the fact that it is so easy in most states for anyone to get a permit to carry a hidden loaded gun. Many states do limited checking and allow people under 21, those with violent misdemeanor records and even those with drinking problem to carry. Some of this is written into law, such as age requirements, and other things happen because the state does not check certain records or background before issuing permits. Revoking permits is even more lax. To compound the problem right now, as citizens are concerned about the Trayvon Martin incident, two bills have been introduced in the US Senate that would force every state to accept the hidden loaded guns carried by permit holders from every other state. Thus it would force New York, New Jersey and Connecticut that do extensive background checks on persons wishing to carry a firearm and issue few permits to accept the over 500,000 permit holders from Florida as visitors with guns. A nightmare for law enforcement and a boon to illegal gun traffickers. And will these visitors know that they are not allowed to shoot first in these states?
Then we have the NRA continuing it’s yearly convention where thousands of weapons are displayed but at which interestingly no one is allowed to carry a hidden load handgun. This year the convention is in St. Louis, Missouri, the state with the highest black gun homicide rate in the nation. Just what Missouri needs is a convention to encourage gun buying and use.
Our children are dying and our communities suffering but as Gail Collins said in a NY Times op ed, "Whenever there is a terrible shooting incident somewhere in America, our politicians talk about everything except whether the tragedy could have been avoided if the gunman had not been allowed to carry a firearm."
More About States United to Prevent Gun Violence
States United to Prevent Gun Violence is a national non-profit organization working to decrease gun death and injury. Our mission is to support existing state-based gun violence prevention organizations and to build new organizations within the 50 states to prevent gun violence. The main goal of SUPGV is to provide an array of services that helps to build organizational capacity at the state level and simultaneously grow the movement.
States United to Prevent Gun Violence is calling on you to join our growing network of passionate and committed advocates who are working to reduce gun violence. SUPGV works directly with a network of approximately 20 state-based gun violence prevention organizations. For more information on our state group affiliates and to join a group in your state, please visit our state affiliate page.
SUPGV believes that all Americans deserve to live in a country free from the fear, threat, and devastation caused by gun violence--each one of us deserves to be safe in our homes, schools, and communities. By working with groups to share best practices, programs and policy ideas and by proving technical support services, we are helping to empower and strengthen state group efforts across the country.
Gun Violence Crisis
- We are in the midst of a national crisis. Over 30,000 people die from guns in our country each year, including over 20 children and young adults (24 years of age and under) each day.
- Gun violence is public health and safety issue: every 17 minutes an American dies of a gunshot wound.
- In the past 25 years, 800,000 Americans have died on US soil from guns--this is more than all the American soldiers killed in the 20th century combined.
- With over 280 million guns in circulation, America is flooded with deadly weapons, including cop-killing assault weapons and deadly sniper rifles designed for the battlefield.
- Gun violence terrorizes our communities, destroys our families and impacts our emotional health and sense of well being.
How State Groups are Making a Difference
At the grassroots level, state groups are implementing comprehensive approaches to change policy, challenge cultural norms, sustain long-term public education efforts, and mobilize a broad base of supporters at the grassroots level. Highlights of success at the state level include:
- New Jersey Enacts One Handgun A Month Law: Ceasefire NJ (CFNJ) pulled together coalitions of mayors and city councils across the state to push for a One Handgun A Month bill to diminish ‘straw buying’ and the gun trafficking and violence it fuels. CFNJ was able to gain the support of the Governor and leaders of both legislative houses and they actively promoted the bill through editorial boards, public speaking engagements, meetings with key legislators and testimony at legislative committees. A major victory for CFNJ, the bill was signed into law by Governor Corzine in August 2009.
- Ohio Honors Victims and Survivors of Homicide: The Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence (OCAGV) has formed a committee in Columbus of clergy and interested parties to hold vigils for the victims and survivors of homicide. Four vigils have already been held in neighborhoods where homicides have occurred. Each vigil has helped to educate people about gun violence and has been covered extensively by the media to help raise awareness. The purpose of the vigils is to honor the victims, support the survivors including the neighborhoods, acknowledge the problems and choose non-violence.
- Arizona Curbs Random Gunfire: Arizonans for Gun Safety (AGS) implemented strategies designed to curb random gunfire on New Years Eve with dramatic results. Over the past 5 years, calls to the Phoenix Police Department concerning celebratory shots fired in the air on New Year’s Eve dropped by 50% due to stepped up enforcement efforts and a community education program in the schools. AGS worked with police to develop an innovative school program – in which elementary school children were invited to make posters with artwork and slogans demonstrating the dangers of random gunfire and ways to prevent it. The contest has grown in popularity over the last three years with almost 2,000 entries in 2009.
- Wisconsin Raising Public Awareness: The Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort (WAVE) developed a compelling display of 450 shirts, representing the victims of gun violence in Wisconsin in one year. The display was the centerpiece of A Journey for Justice, WAVE's 450-mile tour of Wisconsin. The Journey visited Appleton, Stevens Point, La Crosse, Madison and Milwaukee in 2009. Community leaders and violence prevention advocates spoke at each stop on the Journey, helping to raise awareness and engage the public in the work to prevent gun violence.
- Illinois Students Making a Difference: The Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence’s (ICHV) annual Student Voices Contest has allowed tens of thousands of Illinois elementary and high school students to express themselves on the issue of gun violence through essays, poetry or artwork. The contest is now in its 15th year. ICHV has awarded over 150 computers to the winners over the 14-year history of the contest.
Your Financial Support of States United to Prevent Gun Violence Enables Us To:
- Provide professional and technical assistance with media and communications, web support, and fundraising and board development for state gun violence prevention organizations.
- Implement web and email outreach strategies for state groups to increase their membership and energize new members to get active in state organizations.
- Assist state groups with press templates and statewide media tours.
- Identify community organizers, increase coalition partners, and empower volunteers in new states.
- Educate the public about life-saving activities and victories of state advocates.
- Link concerned citizens with grassroots organizations to get involved and advocate on the state level.
- Reduce gun violence and save lives throughout America.
If you would like to make a donation to a state group, visit our state affiliate page to find an organization in your state.