U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen Must Offer More Than a "Moment of Silence" In Response to the Worst Mass Shooting In U.S. History and Worsening Gun Violence Epidemic
AUFC: “If Congressman Paulsen Is Not Willing to Demand That Speaker Ryan Hold a Vote to Stop People on the FBI’s “No Fly” List From Legally Buying Guns, Then He’s Willing to Let ISIS Exploit the Loophole”
Washington DC – In the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history in Orlando that left 49 innocent people dead and over 50 wounded or maimed, House Republicans offered nothing more than a “moment of silence”. Doing nothing has been the standard response from the GOP to any common sense effort to prevent gun violence since the mass shooting of 20 children and 6 adults in Newtown in 2012, and to the 188 school shootings that have happened since. And the National Rifle Association, a longtime front group for the big gun manufacturers, continues to load Republican campaign coffers with millions upon millions of dollars to make sure it stays that way.
With Republican leaders hoping to once again quietly skip town on recess without lifting a finger to address the gun violence epidemic, Americans United for Change challenged Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MN-03) to start putting public safety ahead of his gun maker money by calling on Speaker Paul Ryan to immediately hold votes on common sense bipartisan bills to make our communities safer, including a ‘No Fly, No Buy’ bill stopping people on the FBI’s terrorist watch list from legally buying a gun; and a bill (similar to Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT’s) to strengthen and expand background checks for all gun sales. This week, AUFC is generating thousands of constituent calls to Congress in dozens of key House Districts, including Paulsen’s, urging Members to pressure Speaker Ryan into giving the families of victims of gun violence the votes they deserve instead of remaining silent from one mass shooting to the next. *See call script.
Brad Woodhouse, President, Americans United for Change: “It’s disturbing that many Republican lawmakers are more afraid that the NRA will stop giving them money than the prospect of a terrorist on the FBI ‘no fly’ list legally walking into any gun store and buying an AR-15 military-style assault rifle. These are people deemed too dangerous to fly, but Republicans in Congress in the pocket of the firearm manufacturers only see them only as potential gun customers. In fact, people on terrorist watch lists were able to buy guns legally more than 2,000 times over 11 years. Republicans are more concerned about securing an ‘A rating’ from the NRA than the idea of a violent felon or convicted domestic abuser being able to acquire whatever gun they want at a gun show no questions asked, which happens practically every day. And if Congressman Paulsen isn’t willing to demand that his Leadership hold votes to close these deadly loopholes, then he is willing to let dangerous people like ISIS exploit them.”
FLASHBACK: Think Progress, June 6, 2011: VIDEO: Al Qaeda Urges Muslims In America To Exploit Gun Loopholes To Attack ‘Enemies Of Islam’
What’s their number? How many more mass shootings will it take to convince Republicans to consider the common sense solutions in front of them to prevent gun violence that won’t infringe any law abiding citizen’s right to own a gun? The amount of gun violence we’ve seen in recent years is staggering. These tragedies have become so commonplace in America that the majority don’t even make national news. 31 people, including 5 children and teenagers, are gunned down in America every single day. To put the over 11,000 annual U.S. gun murders into perspective, that’s almost double the total U.S. casualties in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined, our nation’s longest and third-longest foreign conflicts. It’s reached the point where the odds are now greater of being killed by a gun than in a car accident in this country. For the sake of everyone’s freedom not to live in fear of gun violence, Congressman Paulsen should not be afraid to stand up to the extreme, right-wing gun lobby that is not only out of step with the vast majority of the American people —but the majority of gun owners.
When there’s an unspeakable gun massacre like that in Orlando, Republicans desperately try to change the subject from keeping guns out of dangerous hands until the public outcry dies down -- until the next tragedy, and the next. They throw up the blinders and belittle any common sense gun violence measure like closing the private sale loophole or closing the Terror Gap, arguing it wouldn’t stop all gun violence so why bother. It’s the flawed-logic equivalent of arguing seatbelts can’t save every life so car manufactures shouldn’t have to install them anymore. They can’t see the forest for the trees that background checks have worked to prevent over 2.3 million attempted gun purchases by dangerous people prohibited from owning them, and that strengthening the system would only keep them out of more of the wrong hands and make Americans safer.
Republicans argue big cities like Chicago that have stricter gun laws still have a lot of gun violence, but conveniently forget how easy it is to obtain them right outside the city limits or from nearby straw purchasers. Republicans say they are very concerned someone on the FBI ‘no fly’ list might not deserve to be on it and might have to jump through a couple more hoops before acquiring an AR-15, so much so that they would rather let everyone who should be on that list stockpile these weapons of mass destruction. That’s crazy.
“When Republicans shoot down even the most common sense and effective gun violence deterrents like expanded background checks, they are putting gun manufacturer profits before our public safety,” added Woodhouse. “The big gun makers don’t give a damn if their product is sold to a dangerously mentally ill person in a parking lot or gun show no questions asked, or to someone who can’t board an airplane because they pose too great a risk. But Congressman Paulsen really should start caring if he cares about keeping his job.”
BACKGROUND: Currently, convicted felons, domestic abusers and the seriously mentally ill are barred from purchasing guns in the U.S. That probably seems like common sense. What may not seem like common sense is that known or suspected terrorists, despite being barred from boarding planes, are not barred from purchasing firearms. You can thank the National Rifle Association’s efforts for that, and of course Republicans who time and again have blocked any efforts to keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists for fear of angering their campaign dollar rainmakers the NRA, a long-time front group for the gun manufacturers. Between 2004 and 2014, individuals on terror watch lists tried to purchase guns or explosives 2,233 times. Of those attempts, 2,043, an astounding 91% were approved, a rate that has sadly kept pace through 2015. Individuals on the consolidated terrorist watch list who sought to purchase a weapon in 2013 and 2014 cleared the background check in 455 out of 486 attempts.