At least 31 people died and dozens more were injured in two mass shootings the first weekend in August that took place within hours of each other in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Those opposed to gun safety quickly turned to their tired excuses for the gun violence and weak arguments against common sense gun reform. We have what you need to debunk their spin. Check out our list of the most powerful gun violence statistics and find rebuttals to common arguments against gun safety legislation.
TEN FACTS THAT DON’T LIE
1. Americans are 25 times more likely to be murdered by guns than those from other developed countries.
2. Every day, 96 Americans are killed by gun violence. That’s 35,000 every year.
3. Black men are 13 times more likely than white men to be shot and killed by guns.
4. In an average month, 50 women are shot and killed by their domestic partners.
5. More than 2,500 children and teens are killed with guns every year in the US.
6. 62% of gun deaths in the US are suicides. 88% of gun deaths in Maine are suicides.
7. 90% of suicide attempts with a gun are fatal. 90% of suicide attempts without a gun are NOT fatal.
8. The risk of homicide is three times higher in homes with firearms.
9. The risk of suicide is 17 times higher in homes with guns.
10. A 10% increase in gun ownership in a state is associated with a 35% higher rate of mass shootings.
TEN ARGUMENTS TO KNOCK DOWN
1. Gun reform laws violate the Second Amendment
THE FACTS ARE…
- The US Constitution is a set of rules that carefully balance promoting the public good and protecting individual rights. While the Second Amendment does protect individuals’ rights to own weapons, those rights should not extend to scenarios that threaten public safety, in the same way that the First Amendment does not protect individuals who yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater when there is no fire.
- The Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that Washington DC’s handgun ban violated the Second Amendment, but that ruling was limited to handguns in the home for the purpose of self defense. Justice Scalia made sure to clarify the ruling by writing, “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited,” and “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”
- Assault weapon & large-capacity magazine bans: Every federal appeals court that’s ruled on assault rifle and large-capacity magazine bans has concluded that they comply with the Constitution. The Supreme Court has never chosen to take up any of those cases on appeal. In 1994 Congress lawfully established an assault weapons ban, which included high capacity magazines. The law expired in 2004 and was not renewed.
- Bump stock ban: The new bump stock ban is in effect, and already one US appeals court has upheld a challenge to the ban. Banning bump stocks won’t directly restrict anyone’s ability to have a firearm; it would just prohibit them from modifying their weapons to operate like machine guns. And in the 2008 DC v. Heller case, the Supreme Court strongly suggested that machine guns can be prohibited.
- Age restrictions: Unlike the 26th Amendment which specifically sets the voting age at 18, the Second Amendment sets no minimum age requirement. Most age restriction laws are focused only on the purchase of assault-style weapons and handguns, and those laws have been upheld in courts. Making exceptions for military and law enforcement trainees would be logical, since they undergo rigorous safety training.
- Waiting periods: Although 3-day waiting periods are most common, the courts have upheld waiting periods of up to 10 days.
- Universal background checks: These pose no Second Amendment challenge.
2. Gun laws don’t work. Chicago has the strictest guns laws and the highest murder rate
THE FACTS ARE…
- It’s true that Chicago’s gun violence is high, but it’s not true that the city has the toughest gun laws in the country. Chicago has actually seen its laws weakened in the time period leading up to the crime spike. Its handgun ban was ruled unconstitutional in 2008, after DC v. Heller. It ended its concealed carry ban in 2012, and its gun registry program in 2013.
- The state of Illinois does have tougher gun laws than other states, but neighboring Wisconsin and Indiana have very weak laws. State borders don’t stop guns. More than half of the guns recovered by law Illinois law enforcement come from out of state.
- It’s also not true that Chicago has the highest murder rate in the US. Per capita, Chicago’s murder rate is actually well below other US cities including St. Louis, Gary, and Cleveland.
3. Only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun
THE FACTS ARE…
- Actually, bad guys with guns stop the most bad guys with guns. 42% of mass shooters kill themselves before they are apprehended. (Everytown Research)
- Unarmed civilians stop 10% more mass shooters than armed civilians. (FBI Report)
- Armed law enforcement kill just 10% of mass shooters. (Everytown Research)
- States with “right to carry” laws have a 13-15% higher violent crime rate than states without RTC laws. (2017, Stanford University)
4. Arming teachers will stop school shootings
THE FACTS ARE…
- Unarmed civilians are actually more effective than armed civilians. Civilians without guns stopped 13% of mass shooters, while armed civilians have only stopped 3%. (FBI Report)
- Stopping a mass shooter is hard, even for those trained to do it. Nearly half of law enforcement officers who engaged an active shooter were killed or wounded. (FBI statistics)
- Simulations have demonstrated that most people placed in an active shooter situation while armed will not be able to stop the situation, and are likely to get themselves killed or kill fellow civilians in the process.
- Adding armed civilians to an active shooter situation will make it harder for law enforcement to identify the criminal. Teachers could be accidentally targeted by officers.
- Humans make mistakes. Teachers’ guns have accidentally discharged, been left in bathrooms, have fallen out of school refrigerators, have wounded students, and ended up in students’ hands.
5. This is a mental health problem
THE FACTS ARE…
- Only about 4% of violent crime is caused by people with dangerous mental illnesses, and only 22% of mass shootings are caused by those with mental illness. (University of California Study)
- The vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent, and even the majority of those with severe mental illness are not violent. (NIH Study)
- People with mental illness are more likely to be the victims of violence, including by police.
- Since 88% gun deaths are suicides, better mental health treatment and gun control are both effective at combating that problem. Legislators should increase funding for school counselors, make mental health treatment and more affordable and accessible, and pass “red flag” laws to remove guns from a people proven to pose an extreme risk to themselves or others.
6. Background checks are inconvenient and only punish law-abiding citizens
THE FACTS ARE…
- Background checks have stopped 3 million gun sales to people with a criminal record. (Everytown Research)
- Background checks are not inconvenient. 98% of Mainers live within 10 miles of a licensed gun dealer. We have more licensed gun dealers than post offices! (Everytown Research)
- States that require background checks for all handgun sales have lowered their handgun death rates by 46% for women killed by intimate partners and 48% for law enforcement killed. Gun trafficking was reduced by 48%. (Everytown Research)
- 34% of mass shooters should have been prohibited from buying guns. Violent criminals, stalkers, suspected terrorists and those diagnosed with dangerous mental illnesses can skirt background checks by buying guns privately, online, or at gun shows.(Everytown for Gun Safety)
7. Mainers said “no” to background checks when they rejected the 2016 ballot initiative
THE FACTS ARE…
- 80% of Maine residents and 78% of Maine gun owners support universal background checks. (Everytown Research)
- Policies that close background check loopholes are considered to be one of the most effective ways to reduce mass shootings (after banning assault and semi-automatic weapons, banning high capacity clips, and barring sales to violent criminals).
- If Republicans really believed in respecting the will of the voters, they wouldn’t have worked so hard to roll back or undermine voter-approved laws to fully funded public schools, expand Medicaid, increase the minimum wage, establish ranked choice voting, and legalize marijuana. With so many Republican seats flipped in the midterm elections, it’s clear that voters are ready for a different legislative approach.
8. Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) laws violate an individual’s right to due process.
THE FACTS ARE…
- The main due process concern is that Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) laws authorize “ex parte proceedings”, which means that the protection order is issued without the participation of the person it’s directed toward. While this is true, law enforcement bears a responsibility to protect the public from credible threats. ERPO laws make it easier for law enforcement to determine when and if a threat is credible, because judges determine if there is probable cause for the protection order.
- Maine’s ERPO law, LD 1312, goes further than other states’ laws by providing counsel to the subjects of extreme risk protection orders and an opportunity to challenge the need for the order.
- Only family and household members and law enforcement officers can file a petition for this kind of protection order, not a neighbor, co-worker, or friend. Only judges can determine if the petition merits the issue of a protection order. Under Maine’s proposed law, if someone makes a false accusation against a family or household member in order to have their guns removed, they would be subject to a Class C felony, resulting in up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
- The judge’s order to remove firearms from a person in crisis is temporary. Under Maine’s proposed law, the initial extreme risk protection order lasts 14 days. The order can be extended, if the judges deems it necessary, to 365 days.
- ERPO laws save lives, and are primarily used for suicide prevention. 90% of suicide attempts with a gun are fatal. Laws in Indiana and Connecticut may have prevented hundreds of firearm suicides, according to research published in the journal Psychiatric Services.
9. Gun reform laws violate Maine’s constitution
THE FACTS ARE…
- Just like the US Constitution, the Maine State Constitution balances individual rights with the common good. Article 1, Section 16 states: “Every citizen has a right to keep and bear arms and this right shall never be questioned.” This is the section legislators love to use as justification for opposing gun reform laws. But scroll back up and you’ll also find this in Article 1, Section 2: “All power is inherent in the people; all free governments are founded in their authority and instituted for their benefit; they have therefore an unalienable and indefensible right to institute government, and to alter, reform, or totally change the same, when their safety and happiness require it.”
10. Maine already has enough gun laws
THE FACTS ARE…
- Among other things, Maine does not:
- Require a background check prior to the transfer of a firearm between unlicensed parties, including sales made online, through private transaction, or at gun shows;
- Require firearms dealers or purchasers to obtain a state license;
- Prohibit the transfer or possession of assault weapons, 50 caliber rifles, or large capacity ammunition magazines;
- Require firearm owners to register their firearms;
- Require hands-on safety training to carry a concealed weapon in public.
- Limit the number of firearms that may be purchased at one time;
- Impose a waiting period on firearm purchases;
- Regulate unsafe handguns (“junk guns” or “Saturday night specials”);
- Significantly regulate ammunition sales;
- Provide local governments with authority to regulate firearms;
- Require a permit to carry a concealed handgun;
- Require domestic abusers to turn over their guns at the scene of a domestic violence incident.
- Maine’s law blocking a person convicted of domestic violence from buying a gun is only temporary (5 years) and doesn’t apply to abusers who were only dating their victims.
- Our lax gun laws make Maine a favored location for criminals to acquire guns. 18% of handguns found at Boston crime scenes were bought in Maine.
GRAPHICS ON ANTI-REFORM LEGISLATORS
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