What’s at Stake for Gun Reform in the 2020 Election

On November 3rd we will elect candidates who have the power to make us safer.  While today’s public health focus centers on Covid-19 for good reason, in the long run gun violence is the greater threat to public health in the US. 

We have 4.4 percent of the global population in the US, but we own 42 percent of the world’s guns. 

While we in the US lost 30 people per day to gun homicide in 2012, only 3 people died from gun homicide daily in similar developed nations whose populations together add up to slightly more than the US (3 is the daily gun homicide number in Australia, Canada, the UK, New Zealand, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland combined). 

We don’t just have twice the number of gun homicides as other nations, we don’t even have just ten times their number, we have fifteen times their number. 

And homicides only account for one-third of US gun deaths. Two-thirds of US gun deaths are deaths by gun suicide.  The combined numbers are staggering.  Our guns are now killing 40,000 of us each year.

  Everytown for Gun Safety now reports 100 gun deaths daily in America.  In addition, 200 of us are seriously wounded in gun violence daily. 

Many lives are at stake on November 3rd.

The scope of this tragedy is preventable through common sense legislation. 

Currently in Pennsylvania background checks are not required for the private sale of long guns, including AR-15s.  This means that private sales of long guns to violent felons and convicted domestic abusers are legal here.  In other states even the private sale of handguns, the weapon of choice in most gun violence, does not require a background check. 

Closing these loopholes in our national and state background checks will save thousands of lives yearly. 

Universal background checks are like a vaccine against gun violence.  And over 90% of Americans want universal background checks. 

In fact, many people are unaware that loopholes remain in current background checks law.  But the loophole is killing our first responders in PA.  Because long guns can be legally purchased without background checks in private sales here, 50 percent of PA police officers killed in the line of duty in the last ten years were killed by long guns. 

Firearms assaults against police officers occur approximately every two days in PA.  First responder lives are at stake on November 3rd.

Suicide prevention is also possible through sensible gun reform.  Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) legislation waits for action both in Congress and in our PA statehouse.  Gettysburg for Gun Sense (GGS) is a signatory of the Common Agenda to End Gun Violence in PA, which calls for both universal background checks and the passage of ERPO in the commonwealth. 

The ERPO policy sets up a process for family members to petition a judge to temporarily remove firearms from a loved one who is a danger to themselves or others.  In states that have passed ERPO laws, research shows a decline of 14 percent in gun suicides, as well as a decline of 13 percent in mass shootings.  The PA District Attorneys Association is among many groups supporting the passage of ERPO in PA. 

Gun violence in Adams County is almost exclusively gun suicide, so GGS is especially concerned about the need for ERPO legislation. 

Adams County lives are at stake on November 3rd.

Gun sense candidates support Universal Background Checks and ERPO policies.  GGS endorses policies rather than politicians, but candidates’ stands on gun sense are clear from their websites, and can also be found on sites like gunsensevoter.org  

What’s at stake for Gun Reform on November 3rd?  Thousands of lives are at stake on November 3rd. 

Please be a gun sense voter

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Judy Young is a retired United Methodist pastor. She convenes Gettysburg for Gun Sense and the Adams County branch of the PA Prison Society, and helps to reenact Abolitionists and plan the annual Abolitionists Day in Adams County.

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