Rep. Blumenauer Releases Gun Safety Report
Today, Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) released a new report - Enough Is Enough: A Comprehensive Plan to Improve Gun Safety.
While there is no single solution to the challenges associated with gun violence, insight can be gained from other challenges that the United States has faced and overcome. Using the examples of automobile safety and tobacco use, two significant public safety challenges where the government responded in ways that dramatically reduced injury and death, success came from defining the problem, identifying risk factors, testing prevention strategies, and ensuring widespread adoption of effective solutions. By applying that same process we can begin to make incremental progress to reduce gun-related deaths and injuries.
The stark fact is that Americans suffer more gun violence than any other developed country.
- In an average day in America, there are 31 firearm homicides.
- On average, there are 53 firearm suicides each day, and firearm suicide attempts are lethal 85% of the time - more lethal than other attempted suicide means.
- In 2012 - the most recent year available for statistics - there were 33,563 deaths due to injury by firearm. These include 11,622 homicides, 20,666 suicides, and 548 accidental deaths.
- In 2011 firearm deaths exceeded motor vehicle deaths in 14 states
Among other suggestions, the Congressman highlights these strategies in his report:
Keep Guns from the Most Dangerous Users: The “private sale loophole” should be closed - no private sales should be conducted without background checks. Comprehensive and uniform background checks will help ensure that only law-abiding, responsible owners have access to guns. More restrictions should be in place to prevent individuals with a pattern of violent or abusive behavior from gun ownership.
Improve the Mental Health System: We have failed to create a system where people who are mentally ill can receive the treatment they need. Over 60% of all gun-related deaths are suicides and mental illness is a significant risk factor for suicide. Many deaths could be prevented if we developed a mental health system that is more accessible and available.
Authorize and Increase Research: Simply improving the ability of researchers and the federal government to study and share information about gun violence would allow us to fully understand the impact and implications of current policies. New approaches to reduce gun violence should be evidence-based; research that can be used to promote policies is the first step in achieving this goal.
Control Access to the Most Dangerous Products: Certain types of guns are not safe in any public space. Common sense restrictions on the most dangerous weapons can reduce the carnage that results from their use.
Increase Product Safety: Firearms are specifically excluded from regulation under the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Act. As inherently dangerous products, guns should be tested and regulated to ensure consistency and safety for the consumer. Products intended to keep children safe from guns and to prevent accidents are available and their use should be promoted if not required.
Empower Healthcare Professionals: In some states, doctors may face disciplinary actionfor discussing guns with patients. Doctors should not only be able to discuss all matters that affect their patient’s health - they should be encouraged to do so.
Effectively Regulate Sellers: A small number of gun dealers provide a disproportionately large number of weapons to criminals. Congress should empower the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to take steps to ensure dealers are complying with federal law.
Enforcing Existing Laws: Enforcing existing laws is a struggle with the gun lobby actively working to subvert good policies by attacking budgets and undermining their effectiveness. While enacting new policies will be necessary to create safer communities, enforcing existing laws is an important part of the solution.
Mitigate Loss of Life in Shootings: First responders such as police and fire departments, ambulances, and emergency rooms must be able to respond where tragedy strikes. Schools and public facilities personnel should receive appropriate training to deal with active-shooter situations. These necessary components can reduce fatalities when gun violence occurs.
Gun violence in the United States is not inevitable, nor should Americans accept it as the status quo. Congress, the Administration, state and local governments, and the American people need to address this issue for what it is: a crisis that threatens the well-being and peace of mind of urban and rural communities across the country.