MASSACHUSETTS COALITION TO PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE RESOLVES TO “NEVER FORGET NEWTOWN”
At speaking event and vigil, Coalition calls on Legislature to Close Gaps in State Gun Laws
(Boston, MA) — Member organizations of the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence today held an afternoon of “Remembrance and Resolve,” pledging to never forget Newtown, at First Church Boston. The Coalition, made up of more than 30 organizations across the state, called on state and federal lawmakers to pass meaningful legislation that will close gaps in the state’s gun laws. Today is the one-year anniversary of the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
The program began with an event co-sponsored by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Mayors Against Illegal Guns (part of more than 50 nation-wide “No More Silence” day of action events), featuring U.S. Congressman John Tierney, Boston Mayor-Elect Marty Walsh, gun violence survivors and community leaders. Other speakers followed, including State Representatives Hank Naughton, David Linsky and Tom Conroy, homicide survivors Tina Chery and Kim Odom, and John Rosenthal, founder of Stop Handgun Violence. The speaking program was followed by a candlelight vigil and service.
The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Safety & Homeland Security is expected to release a new piece of gun violence prevention legislation in January for consideration by the Legislature early next year.
“Gun violence kills more than 30,000 Americans every year, including more than 2,800 children and teenagers,” said Janet Goldenberg, Co-chair of Temple Beth Elohim Congregants to Prevent Gun Violence, a Coalition member organization. “That’s 8 kids a day, a classroom of kids every three days. We’re better than that, and we can do better than that. Although Massachusetts has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, and the second-lowest gun-death rate of any state in the nation as a result, there are still significant gaps that contribute to needless deaths and injuries every year, whether homicides, suicides or accidents. We urge lawmakers to pass meaningful legislation that will close the gaps in both our state and federal gun laws and save lives.”
Ann Krantz of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a founding coalition member organization, feels that today is about honoring the victims of the terrible tragedy at Sandy Hook as well as the more than 200 children under age 13 who have been killed by guns since Newtown. “We are here because we pledge to no longer remain silent about the toll that gun violence takes on our society. We are more motivated than ever to protect our children, our families and our communities from gun violence. Our country has been silent about the epidemic of gun violence for far too long, the time for silence is over”
The Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence was formed in February 2013 after the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. As an umbrella organization, the Coalition brings together over thirty organizations and institutions across Massachusetts that are united in their desire to end the epidemic of gun violence that plagues our communities and takes the lives of so many of our citizens.
The Coalition is urging the Massachusetts Legislature to ensure that the following priorities are addressed in any legislation that is put forward for consideration:
- Require a background check at the point of sale every time a gun is sold, including private sales, sales at gun shows and over the Internet;
- Limit Handgun sales to one per month in order to deter straw purchasing and make it harder for gun traffickers to acquire multiple guns in a single transaction;
- Share records of adjudicated commitments for mental health and substance abuse with the National Instant Check System as required by federal law;
- Expand the existing suitability standard that currently applies only to the issuance of a License to Carry to the issuance of FID cards as well; and
- Require law enforcement authorities to attempt to determine, every time a gun is involved in an injury or death, who owned the gun and where the gun came from; to maintain that data in a statewide database, and to share that data with public health researchers, policy makers, other law enforcement agencies and the general public.
“We cannot wait for the federal government to act on this critical issue,” said Representative David Linsky (D-Natick). “Massachusetts may have some of the toughest gun laws, but there is still a great deal that needs to be done to stop gun violence in the Commonwealth. After Newtown, I pledged to do everything I could to pass comprehensive gun violence prevention legislation this session. Every member of the Massachusetts Legislature should have the same goal: to stop further deaths from guns.”
“It has repeatedly been proven that states with stronger gun laws have fewer firearm fatalities and injuries,” said John Rosenthal of Stop Handgun Violence, another Coalition member organization. “Urban-industrial Massachusetts has some of the most comprehensive gun laws and the second lowest gun fatality rate in the nation. We applaud the MA Legislature and Governor for making our state a national leader in gun violence prevention and strongly support their continued efforts to improve our state gun laws and save lives.”
Ellie Miller, chair of First Church’s Campaign Against Gun Violence and a co-organizer of the event said “We must come to understand that personal well-being is linked to the wellness of the larger communities that we build and share. We are proud to be part of the Massachusetts Coalition and hope that today’s event will strengthen the ties between Boston’s community organizations working together to make all of Boston a safe and nurturing environment.”