JANUARY 11–14, 2018

Gun Violence Prevention

Emily Walton

Regional Director of State Affairs
Everytown for Gun Safety

Emily Walton introduced the Forum to Everytown for Gun Safety, the nation’s largest non-partisan national gun violence prevention organization, which includes more than 4 million mayors, parents, police, teachers, survivors, gun owners, and every-day Americans. The organization seeks a middle path by advocating for policies that protect Americans from gun violence while respecting the Second Amendment, she said.

The statistics on gun violence are staggering: every day, 96 Americans will die from gun violence, and the US gun homicide rate is 20 times the international average. Women in the US are 11 times more likely to be murdered with guns than women in other high-income countries, and 50 women are shot and killed by domestic abusers each month. The presence of a gun makes it 5 times more likely that domestic abuse will become lethal, and most mass shootings are incidents of domestic or family violence, according to research by Everytown.

Ms. Walton reminded the Forum that current laws prohibit certain categories of dangerous people—such as felons, domestic abusers, and people who have been adjudicated to be seriously mentally ill—from having guns. However, loopholes in US gun laws make it all too easy for people with dangerous histories to get guns.

Irresponsible and/or Illegal Gun Sales

An estimated 6 million guns change hands each year in the US without background checks, because they are not required by law for sales by unlicensed gun sellers at gun shows and on the Internet, where dozens of websites host ads selling tens of thousands of guns at a time. Anyone seeking to buy a gun without undergoing a background check can purchase a gun at the click of a mouse.

Undercover investigations by Everytown at gun shows disclosed that 62% of unlicensed sellers at gun shows are willing to sell guns to prohibited people. Furthermore, criminals are flocking to the unregulated Internet market to buy guns, Ms. Walton reported.  1 in 30 online gun buyers is criminally prohibited from possessing firearms. Twenty-nine percent of online gun ads are posted by high-volume sellers such as Armslist, which transfers an estimated 25,000 guns to criminals each year, thus illegally engaging in the gun sale business without a license, she pointed out.

Solution 1: Background Checks

One of the single most effective ways to reduce gun violence and save lives is to close the loopholes in the laws that allow people to buy guns without background checks, Ms. Walton observed. The 1993 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act required that background checks be conducted on individuals before a firearm may be purchased from a federally licensed dealer, manufacturer, or importer. In 1998, Federal Bureau of Investigation launched the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to support background checks.

Ms. Walton pointed out that background checks are, “a policy that we know will save lives without burdening the rights of law-abiding gun owners. It’s the right thing to do -- AND is overwhelmingly popular.” Surveys show that 93% of Americans – including 83% of gun owners and 72% of NRA members – support criminal background checks for all gun sales, and this is true across regions (91% in GA; 94% in ND).

To date, 19 states have closed the loophole on background checks. Since 1998, the background check system has blocked more than 3 million sales to dangerous people at gun dealers. According to Everytown’s analysis of FBI and CDC data, in states that require background checks for all gun sales, there are:

47% fewer women shot to death by intimate partners

53% fewer law enforcement personnel killed with guns

47% fewer firearms suicides

How burdensome is it to conduct a background check? Ms. Walton noted that there are more licensed gun dealers than all McDonalds, Starbucks, and post offices combined.  “If you connect with an unlicensed seller on Armslist.com, you’ve got to meet him somewhere in person to complete the sale – and it’s no less convenient to meet him at a dealer than at a McDonalds or in a parking lot somewhere.  Also, most responsible gun owners agree they’ll go a little out of their way to ensure they’re not selling a gun to a murderer.”

Background checks are quick and easy

Solution 2: The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)

Improve Records Reporting

Ms. Walton presented a three-prong strategy to block dangerous individuals from buying guns. First, information in the NICS must be thorough, up-to-date, and shared across the country. Currently, State and Federal agencies have failed to send hundreds of thousands of records to the national background check databases. Tragically, an effective database might have saved the 32 people killed by the Virginia Tech shooter, if his records were in the system, and the 26 people killed in Sutherland, Texas, by a shooter whose assault record was never reported.

Enforce NICS Denials

Enforce NICS denials by requiring States to inform State and local law enforcement when a buyer fails a background check. For example, a new gun law in Washington State lets domestic violence survivors find out if their abusers illegally attempt to buy a gun. Officials there reported 1,231 denied applications — including 71 by people who are named in active protective orders.

Keep Guns Out of the Hands of Domestic Abusers

Pass State laws consistent with Federal laws. Federal law prohibits people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes and subject to active domestic violence restraining orders from having guns. State laws can prohibit domestic abusers who are convicted of misdemeanor domestic crimes and who are subject to final active restraining orders from having guns, and requiring them to surrender guns that they already have. State laws that restrict access to guns by domestic abusers who are subject to restraining orders see a 25% reduction in intimate partner homicide. However, Ms. Walton noted, Federal law still does not keep guns out of the hands of abusive dating partners or convicted stalkers.

Solution 3: Conceal Carry Laws

Ms. Walton reported that 88% of Americans support requiring safety training and a clean criminal record in order to carry a concealed handgun in public. Her organization supports the concealed carry of weapons but with certain core public safety standards – such as ensuring that permit holders have a clean criminal record and have basic safety training, and that guns are not carried in places such as schools, playgrounds, and bars. Despite the importance of gun safety training, only 38 States currently require a handgun safety course before a person can get a permit to carry a concealed handgun, including 20 states that require live-fire training.

Everytown opposes efforts to weaken or dismantle any State’s concealed-carry permit system, Ms. Walton said. Because States’ concealed-carry standards vary widely, the organization opposes Federal efforts that would require every State to allow people from other States to carry concealed weapons within their borders. In 36 states, the minimum age to get a concealed-carry permit is 21. Permitless carry would let people as young as 18 carry concealed guns in public – even though this demographic commits nearly 4 times as many gun homicides as adults 21 and over. Twenty-nine States give law enforcement the authority to deny a permit to people who pose a danger to the community. In those States, permitless carry would strip law enforcement of this authority.

Solution 4: Red Flag Laws

Family members are often the first to know that their loved ones pose a serious threat to themselves or others, Ms. Walton reported, however they lack the tools and legal channels to respond to these 'red flag warnings' and keep people safe.  State law should allow family members or law enforcement to seek an order from a court that temporarily suspends a person's access to guns if evidence shows they are a threat to themselves or others.

We can support the Second Amendment while doing so much more to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, Ms. Walton concluded.

JANUARY 11–14, 2018

Gun Violence Prevention

Paul Kemp

Board Member
Gun Owners for Responsible Ownership (GOFRO)

Paul Kemp formed Gun Owners for Responsible Ownership (GOFRO), a non-profit organization for gun owners who have lost family members due to gun violence. On December 11, 2012, in a mall outside Portland, Oregon, 22-year-old Jacob Tyler Roberts opened fire on shoppers and employees with a semi-automatic rifle. He had stolen the unsecured AR-15 from a friend. Two people were killed in the shooting, 54-year-old Cindy Ann Yuille and 45-year-old Steven Forsyth, Paul Kemp’s brother-in-law. “No one in the US is immune from gun violence. It affects people across every socioeconomic, gender, age, racial, urban or rural, or political category. That’s why we need better gun safety laws,” Mr. Kemp said.

Scale of US Gun Ownership

The US tops the list of countries with the most guns, owning about half the world’s guns while making up only 5% of the world population. The US has the highest number of guns per capita: an estimated 89 to 100 guns for every 100 Americans in 2013 – or approximately one firearm per person. The average American gun owner owns three guns, according to a 2015 survey conducted by Harvard and Northwestern University. More than a half of them own just one or two, whereas 14% of them – 7.7 million or 3% of the US population–own anywhere between eight to 140 guns. This 3% of the population owns half of the civilian guns in the US.

Safe Storage Laws

The Oregon Mall shooter was able to kill using his friend’s weapon because it was not locked up, and it was loaded, Mr. Kemp observed. The legal gun owner noticed the Stag-15 rifle was missing that morning, but he did not call police to report it stolen.

Safe storage laws promote responsible gun-owning practices by requiring gun owners to keep their firearms out of the reach of others, such as children or prohibited persons, who could use the weapon to deadly effect. These laws help prevent tragedies due to unintentional discharges, suicide, and gun theft by creating an environment helping ensure firearms are only used by their rightful owners.

Locking Devices

Mr. Kemp pointed out that effective locking devices can cost from as little as $10 to as much as $1000. Eleven States have laws concerning firearm locking devices. Massachusetts is the only State that requires that all firearms be stored with a lock in place; California, Connecticut, and New York impose this requirement in certain situations.

Other State laws require locking devices to accompany certain guns. Five of the 11 States also set standards for the design of locking devices or require them to be approved by a State agency for effectiveness. Only 3 States require firearms to be stored with a locking device in place if the person resides with someone who is ineligible to possess firearms.

Reporting Gun Thefts

“As a citizen and a law-abiding gun owner, the right action is to voluntarily report the gun was stolen,” Mr. Kemp declared. The results of not locking up and securing firearms goes far beyond impacting a family, it impacts the broader community.

Nine States require firearm owners to report the loss or theft of any firearms to law enforcement. Maryland, requires individuals to report the loss or theft of handguns and assault weapons but not other firearms, and Michigan requires owners to notify law enforcement about firearm thefts but not lost firearms. New Jersey has a law imposing civil liability for acts perpetrated with stolen firearms.

Gun Owners’ Support Gun Safety Laws

According to surveys by GOFRO, 80% of gun owners support background checks, and 73% would support legislation to make them mandatory; 73% support laws restricting silencers, and 75% oppose making it easier to buy a silencer. Importantly, 66% of gun owners would support a political candidate who proposed gun violence prevention legislation.

Mr. Kemp commented on the disparity in gun laws across the States. “We need a national reciprocity bill that raises the bar; gun ownership should require a license, similar to a drivers’ license, that also entails periodic recertification,” he proposed.

Action for Senate Presidents

Concluding his remarks, Mr. Kemp said the impact of gun violence affects families and communities. State legislators are in the position to enforce existing laws and pass balanced legislation that will limit the number of deaths due to gun violence.

Senators Wayne Niederhauser (UT) and Jonathan Dismang (AR) discuss gun violence prevention issues following the session.

Discussion

Sen. John Cullerton (IL): The Everytown organization helped pass 13 State domestic violence laws. But the rural caucus members in my State say they cannot vote for anything that the National Rifle Association (NRA) does not support or they will lose their seats. Did Everytown have the support of the NRA?

Ms. Walton: We have experienced neutrality from the NRA in some States and opposition in others. The gun lobby does not want background checks and this is a point of conflict. However, when we advocated for the domestic violence law in Utah, the NRA was silent. They also did not oppose laws enforcing National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) denials and do not resist enforcing laws currently on the books.

Sen. Ginny Burdick (OR): After 20 years working on this issue, I have discovered that, once gun owners understand my position, they are supportive. They ask me, “Do you want to take my gun away?” I respond, “Are you a convicted felon?” Gun owners are fine with the idea that convicted felons should not have guns.

As a legislator, my frustration is that there is a disconnect between the public and the legislators. Gun violence prevention has become a partisan issue. A small number of extremists are very loud and scary. But they do not speak for all gun owners. We had to get the politics out of the discussion. We created a Republican-Democratic coalition and, once we we able to put a Red Flag Law before the Oregon voters, they passed it.

Sen. Brent Hill (ID): We heard that NICS isn’t up-to-date and records are missing. Is it difficult or costly to put data into the system? Does it require new systems and new hires to comply?

Ms. Walton: The answer varies by State. In the States where Everytown has participated, it has not been difficult. The information is already available in the States; they just need to share it or hand it over. One of the points where education is needed is what it means to “hand over a record.” Some administrators expressed concern that sharing records could violate Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and could be seen as discrimination, particularly if a person has a mental health issue. It is important to note that the “mental illness” denial is given to people who have been formally adjudicated by the courts to be mentally ill according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Furthermore, gun dealers are not told the specific reason for a denial, only that the denial is valid.

Sen. Wayne Niederhauser (UT): In the discussion about loopholes, does your plan require that I put my son or a close friend through background checks or gun training, even if I know they are knowledgeable and responsible? Is there any language that separates someone we know vs a stranger when transferring a weapon in a private sale? Will it be laborious and inconvenient to get a gun license if we require training?

Ms. Walton: Transfer of a firearm to a family member is the one exception to requiring background checks. However, we have to weigh the minor hassle of a background check against the risk of violence. It would be difficult to define legally when “someone we know” should be exempt from the background check.

Mr. Kemp: There is some resistance among gun owners to requiring background checks for family members, but it is also a business opportunity. Some gun dealers also offer background checks, so they make a new customer. It is also important to have enough gun ranges conveniently located so that gun owners have ready access to proper training.

Sen. David Senjem (MN): Gun-related violence seems to be associated with drug wars and criminals. How can we contain that source of gun violence?

Ms. Walton: There is an increasing rate of gun violence in cities. Background checks could help stem that tide. For example, background checks are required in Chicago, so people who would be denied in Illinois, travel to Indiana to buy guns where there is no background check. If we have a nationwide gun permit requirement like a driver’s license, law enforcement could check for a valid license and confiscate a gun if the person was unlicensed.

Because so much gun violence stems from domestic violence, it would be effective to create the legal framework that defines steps that allow law enforcement to confiscate guns when domestic violence violations occur.

Sen. Eduardo Bhatia (PR): What about the problems related to automatic and semi-automatic weapons – the guns used in mass shootings, which we have seen more of in the last 3 years than in US history.

Mr. Kemp: The data show that only 3.7% of gun-violence deaths come from automatic or semi-automatic weapons. These events get news coverage. However, we will make more progress by focusing on the 97% of deaths that are caused by people using other guns, especially pistols. GOFRO focuses on background checks because all the research shows comprehensive background checks are the most effective tools to decrease gun violence. We do not have that requirement in every State. Guns are trafficked from States with lax regulation to more strictly controlled States. This “iron pipeline,” as this illegal trade is called, is a booming business.

Ms. Walton: Our organization is pushing for data-driven, evidence-based results. We are not arguing about the type of weapons used, but rather focusing on gun safety regulations, including background checks.

Sen. Ginny Burdick (OR): We are considering asking Congress to regulate semi-automatic weapons as machine guns are regulated. They require a Federal permit and registration after a very rigorous background check. This would give us an added level of safety. Currently there are 10-12,000 machine gun permits in Oregon.

Tom Finneran: Some people fear that background checks are the beginning of a slippery slope, where rights will be compromised leading to confiscation of all guns and the end of the Second Amendment.

Mr. Kemp: The majority of gun owners are in the middle, they support laws for background checks and greater gun safety. The data show that background checks reduce gun violence.

Speaker Biographies

Emily Walton

Emily Walton is the Regional Director of State Affairs at Everytown for Gun Safety, where she directs legislative strategy in 12 western states. Since 2014, she has worked on gun safety legislation in places like Utah, where she passed a bill keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, and in places like Alaska, Wyoming and Montana where she worked to keep guns out of K–12 schools and off of campuses.

An Idaho native, Ms. Walton has a strong background in electoral campaigns, issue advocacy, and civic engagement. She got her start in politics as a student when she was elected to lobby on behalf of over 20,000 students at Boise State University. In 2014, she was elected to, and still serves, on the Board of Trustees at the College of Western Idaho.

Her awards include the Young Professional of the Year award from Boise Young Professionals (2014), Women of the Year award from the Idaho Business Review (2013), and Accomplished Under 40 award from Idaho Business Review."

Paul Kemp

Paul Kemp is a founding board member and former board chairman for Gun Owners for Responsible Ownership (GOFRO). He is currently the organization’s Vice Chairman.

GOFRO is a membership of Oregon gun owners, sportsmen, hunters and outdoors enthusiasts unified by a commitment to minimize the chances that firearms don’t fall into the hands of felons, domestic abusers, or the dangerously mentally ill.

Mr. Kemp’s volunteerism also includes work with the Trauma Intervention Program (Portland Oregon Chapter, 2015–2017) and with Happy Valley’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). He has been a Big Brother for youth in the Portland Metro area and was a board member for the Clackamas Alliance, where he helped county church volunteers raise $250,000 for Habitat for Humanity.

He has worked in Portland’s engineering industry for 34 years. He was an associate and co-owner of SJO Consulting Engineers for 19 years.

Mr. Kemp enjoys outdoor sports including skiing, fishing, and hunting. He learned hunting with his dad, uncles and grandfather while growing up in Michigan, and later took his son on his first hunting trips. The two enjoy target shooting when his son is home from college.

...every day, 96 Americans will die from gun violence, and the US gun homicide rate is 20 times the international average.

...93% of Americans – including 83% of gun owners and 72% of NRA members – support criminal background checks for all

Since 1998, the background check system has blocked more than 3 million sales to dangerous people at gun dealers.

Anyone seeking to buy a gun without undergoing a background check can purchase a gun at the click of a mouse.

...62% of unlicensed sellers at gun shows are willing to sell guns to prohibited people.

1 in 30 online gun buyers is criminally prohibited from possessing firearms.

...only 38 States currently require a handgun safety course before a person can get a permit to carry a concealed handgun, including 20 states that require live-fire training.

We can support the Second Amendment while doing so much more to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.

No one in the US is immune from gun violence.

 The US has the highest number of guns per capita: an estimated 89 to 100 guns for every 100 Americans in 2013 – or approximately one firearm per person.

Safe storage laws promote responsible gun-owning practices by requiring gun owners to keep their firearms out of the reach of others, such as children or prohibited persons, who could use the weapon to deadly effect.

...66% of gun owners would support a political candidate who proposed gun violence prevention legislation.

State legislators are in the position to enforce existing laws and pass balanced legislation that will limit the number of deaths due to gun violence.

Sen. John Cullerton (IL)

Sen. Ginny Burdick (OR)

Sen. Brent Hill (ID)

Sen. Wayne Niederhauser (UT)

Sen. David Senjem (MN)

Sen. Eduardo Bhatia (PR)

Sen. Ginny Burdick (OR)

Emily Walton

Paul Kemp

CONTACT

Senate Presidents’ Forum

26 Main Street

Hastings-on-Hudson, NY 10706

 

Tel: 914-693-1818

Copyright © 2017 Senate Presidents' Forum. All rights reserved.

JANUARY 11–14, 2018

Gun Violence Prevention

Emily Walton

Regional Director of State Affairs
Everytown for Gun Safety

Emily Walton introduced the Forum to Everytown for Gun Safety, the nation’s largest non-partisan national gun violence prevention organization, which includes more than 4 million mayors, parents, police, teachers, survivors, gun owners, and every-day Americans. The organization seeks a middle path by advocating for policies that protect Americans from gun violence while respecting the Second Amendment, she said.

The statistics on gun violence are staggering: every day, 96 Americans will die from gun violence, and the US gun homicide rate is 20 times the international average. Women in the US are 11 times more likely to be murdered with guns than women in other high-income countries, and 50 women are shot and killed by domestic abusers each month. The presence of a gun makes it 5 times more likely that domestic abuse will become lethal, and most mass shootings are incidents of domestic or family violence, according to research by Everytown.

...every day, 96 Americans will die from gun violence, and the US gun homicide rate is 20 times the international average.

Ms. Walton reminded the Forum that current laws prohibit certain categories of dangerous people—such as felons, domestic abusers, and people who have been adjudicated to be seriously mentally ill—from having guns. However, loopholes in US gun laws make it all too easy for people with dangerous histories to get guns.

Irresponsible and/or Illegal Gun Sales

An estimated 6 million guns change hands each year in the US without background checks, because they are not required by law for sales by unlicensed gun sellers at gun shows and on the Internet, where dozens of websites host ads selling tens of thousands of guns at a time. Anyone seeking to buy a gun without undergoing a background check can purchase a gun at the click of a mouse.

Undercover investigations by Everytown at gun shows disclosed that 62% of unlicensed sellers at gun shows are willing to sell guns to prohibited people. Furthermore, criminals are flocking to the unregulated Internet market to buy guns, Ms. Walton reported.  1 in 30 online gun buyers is criminally prohibited from possessing firearms. Twenty-nine percent of online gun ads are posted by high-volume sellers such as Armslist, which transfers an estimated 25,000 guns to criminals each year, thus illegally engaging in the gun sale business without a license, she pointed out.

Anyone seeking to buy a gun without undergoing a background check can purchase a gun at the click of a mouse....62% of unlicensed sellers at gun shows are willing to sell guns to prohibited people.1 in 30 online gun buyers is criminally prohibited from possessing firearms.

Solution 1: Background Checks

One of the single most effective ways to reduce gun violence and save lives is to close the loopholes in the laws that allow people to buy guns without background checks, Ms. Walton observed. The 1993 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act required that background checks be conducted on individuals before a firearm may be purchased from a federally licensed dealer, manufacturer, or importer. In 1998, Federal Bureau of Investigation launched the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to support background checks.

Ms. Walton pointed out that background checks are, “a policy that we know will save lives without burdening the rights of law-abiding gun owners. It’s the right thing to do -- AND is overwhelmingly popular.” Surveys show that 93% of Americans – including 83% of gun owners and 72% of NRA members – support criminal background checks for all gun sales, and this is true across regions (91% in GA; 94% in ND).

...93% of Americans – including 83% of gun owners and 72% of NRA members – support criminal background checks for allSince 1998, the background check system has blocked more than 3 million sales to dangerous people at gun dealers.

To date, 19 states have closed the loophole on background checks. Since 1998, the background check system has blocked more than 3 million sales to dangerous people at gun dealers. According to Everytown’s analysis of FBI and CDC data, in states that require background checks for all gun sales, there are:

47% fewer women shot to death by intimate partners

53% fewer law enforcement personnel killed with guns

47% fewer firearms suicides

How burdensome is it to conduct a background check? Ms. Walton noted that there are more licensed gun dealers than all McDonalds, Starbucks, and post offices combined.  “If you connect with an unlicensed seller on Armslist.com, you’ve got to meet him somewhere in person to complete the sale – and it’s no less convenient to meet him at a dealer than at a McDonalds or in a parking lot somewhere.  Also, most responsible gun owners agree they’ll go a little out of their way to ensure they’re not selling a gun to a murderer.”

Background checks are quick and easy

Solution 2: The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)

Improve Records Reporting

Ms. Walton presented a three-prong strategy to block dangerous individuals from buying guns. First, information in the NICS must be thorough, up-to-date, and shared across the country. Currently, State and Federal agencies have failed to send hundreds of thousands of records to the national background check databases. Tragically, an effective database might have saved the 32 people killed by the Virginia Tech shooter, if his records were in the system, and the 26 people killed in Sutherland, Texas, by a shooter whose assault record was never reported.

Enforce NICS Denials

Enforce NICS denials by requiring States to inform State and local law enforcement when a buyer fails a background check. For example, a new gun law in Washington State lets domestic violence survivors find out if their abusers illegally attempt to buy a gun. Officials there reported 1,231 denied applications — including 71 by people who are named in active protective orders.

Keep Guns Out of the Hands of Domestic Abusers

Pass State laws consistent with Federal laws. Federal law prohibits people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes and subject to active domestic violence restraining orders from having guns. State laws can prohibit domestic abusers who are convicted of misdemeanor domestic crimes and who are subject to final active restraining orders from having guns, and requiring them to surrender guns that they already have. State laws that restrict access to guns by domestic abusers who are subject to restraining orders see a 25% reduction in intimate partner homicide. However, Ms. Walton noted, Federal law still does not keep guns out of the hands of abusive dating partners or convicted stalkers.

Solution 3: Conceal Carry Laws

Ms. Walton reported that 88% of Americans support requiring safety training and a clean criminal record in order to carry a concealed handgun in public. Her organization supports the concealed carry of weapons but with certain core public safety standards – such as ensuring that permit holders have a clean criminal record and have basic safety training, and that guns are not carried in places such as schools, playgrounds, and bars. Despite the importance of gun safety training, only 38 States currently require a handgun safety course before a person can get a permit to carry a concealed handgun, including 20 states that require live-fire training.

...only 38 States currently require a handgun safety course before a person can get a permit to carry a concealed handgun, including 20 states that require live-fire training.

Everytown opposes efforts to weaken or dismantle any State’s concealed-carry permit system, Ms. Walton said. Because States’ concealed-carry standards vary widely, the organization opposes Federal efforts that would require every State to allow people from other States to carry concealed weapons within their borders. In 36 states, the minimum age to get a concealed-carry permit is 21. Permitless carry would let people as young as 18 carry concealed guns in public – even though this demographic commits nearly 4 times as many gun homicides as adults 21 and over. Twenty-nine States give law enforcement the authority to deny a permit to people who pose a danger to the community. In those States, permitless carry would strip law enforcement of this authority.

Solution 4: Red Flag Laws

Family members are often the first to know that their loved ones pose a serious threat to themselves or others, Ms. Walton reported, however they lack the tools and legal channels to respond to these 'red flag warnings' and keep people safe.  State law should allow family members or law enforcement to seek an order from a court that temporarily suspends a person's access to guns if evidence shows they are a threat to themselves or others.

We can support the Second Amendment while doing so much more to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, Ms. Walton concluded.

We can support the Second Amendment while doing so much more to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.

JANUARY 11–14, 2018

Gun Violence Prevention

Paul Kemp

Board Member
Gun Owners for Responsible Ownership (GOFRO)

Paul Kemp formed Gun Owners for Responsible Ownership (GOFRO), a non-profit organization for gun owners who have lost family members due to gun violence. On December 11, 2012, in a mall outside Portland, Oregon, 22-year-old Jacob Tyler Roberts opened fire on shoppers and employees with a semi-automatic rifle. He had stolen the unsecured AR-15 from a friend. Two people were killed in the shooting, 54-year-old Cindy Ann Yuille and 45-year-old Steven Forsyth, Paul Kemp’s brother-in-law. “No one in the US is immune from gun violence. It affects people across every socioeconomic, gender, age, racial, urban or rural, or political category. That’s why we need better gun safety laws,” Mr. Kemp said.

No one in the US is immune from gun violence.

Scale of US Gun Ownership

The US tops the list of countries with the most guns, owning about half the world’s guns while making up only 5% of the world population. The US has the highest number of guns per capita: an estimated 89 to 100 guns for every 100 Americans in 2013 – or approximately one firearm per person. The average American gun owner owns three guns, according to a 2015 survey conducted by Harvard and Northwestern University. More than a half of them own just one or two, whereas 14% of them – 7.7 million or 3% of the US population–own anywhere between eight to 140 guns. This 3% of the population owns half of the civilian guns in the US.

 The US has the highest number of guns per capita: an estimated 89 to 100 guns for every 100 Americans in 2013 – or approximately one firearm per person.

Safe Storage Laws

The Oregon Mall shooter was able to kill using his friend’s weapon because it was not locked up, and it was loaded, Mr. Kemp observed. The legal gun owner noticed the Stag-15 rifle was missing that morning, but he did not call police to report it stolen.

Safe storage laws promote responsible gun-owning practices by requiring gun owners to keep their firearms out of the reach of others, such as children or prohibited persons, who could use the weapon to deadly effect. These laws help prevent tragedies due to unintentional discharges, suicide, and gun theft by creating an environment helping ensure firearms are only used by their rightful owners.

Safe storage laws promote responsible gun-owning practices by requiring gun owners to keep their firearms out of the reach of others, such as children or prohibited persons, who could use the weapon to deadly effect.

Locking Devices

Mr. Kemp pointed out that effective locking devices can cost from as little as $10 to as much as $1000. Eleven States have laws concerning firearm locking devices. Massachusetts is the only State that requires that all firearms be stored with a lock in place; California, Connecticut, and New York impose this requirement in certain situations.

Other State laws require locking devices to accompany certain guns. Five of the 11 States also set standards for the design of locking devices or require them to be approved by a State agency for effectiveness. Only 3 States require firearms to be stored with a locking device in place if the person resides with someone who is ineligible to possess firearms.

Reporting Gun Thefts

“As a citizen and a law-abiding gun owner, the right action is to voluntarily report the gun was stolen,” Mr. Kemp declared. The results of not locking up and securing firearms goes far beyond impacting a family, it impacts the broader community.

Nine States require firearm owners to report the loss or theft of any firearms to law enforcement. Maryland, requires individuals to report the loss or theft of handguns and assault weapons but not other firearms, and Michigan requires owners to notify law enforcement about firearm thefts but not lost firearms. New Jersey has a law imposing civil liability for acts perpetrated with stolen firearms.

Gun Owners’ Support Gun Safety Laws

According to surveys by GOFRO, 80% of gun owners support background checks, and 73% would support legislation to make them mandatory; 73% support laws restricting silencers, and 75% oppose making it easier to buy a silencer. Importantly, 66% of gun owners would support a political candidate who proposed gun violence prevention legislation.

...66% of gun owners would support a political candidate who proposed gun violence prevention legislation.

Mr. Kemp commented on the disparity in gun laws across the States. “We need a national reciprocity bill that raises the bar; gun ownership should require a license, similar to a drivers’ license, that also entails periodic recertification,” he proposed.

Action for Senate Presidents

Concluding his remarks, Mr. Kemp said the impact of gun violence affects families and communities. State legislators are in the position to enforce existing laws and pass balanced legislation that will limit the number of deaths due to gun violence.

State legislators are in the position to enforce existing laws and pass balanced legislation that will limit the number of deaths due to gun violence.

Senators Wayne Niederhauser (UT) and Jonathan Dismang (AR) discuss gun violence prevention issues following the session.

Discussion

Sen. John Cullerton (IL): The Everytown organization helped pass 13 State domestic violence laws. But the rural caucus members in my State say they cannot vote for anything that the National Rifle Association (NRA) does not support or they will lose their seats. Did Everytown have the support of the NRA?

Ms. Walton: We have experienced neutrality from the NRA in some States and opposition in others. The gun lobby does not want background checks and this is a point of conflict. However, when we advocated for the domestic violence law in Utah, the NRA was silent. They also did not oppose laws enforcing National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) denials and do not resist enforcing laws currently on the books.

Sen. Ginny Burdick (OR): After 20 years working on this issue, I have discovered that, once gun owners understand my position, they are supportive. They ask me, “Do you want to take my gun away?” I respond, “Are you a convicted felon?” Gun owners are fine with the idea that convicted felons should not have guns.

As a legislator, my frustration is that there is a disconnect between the public and the legislators. Gun violence prevention has become a partisan issue. A small number of extremists are very loud and scary. But they do not speak for all gun owners. We had to get the politics out of the discussion. We created a Republican-Democratic coalition and, once we we able to put a Red Flag Law before the Oregon voters, they passed it.

Sen. Brent Hill (ID): We heard that NICS isn’t up-to-date and records are missing. Is it difficult or costly to put data into the system? Does it require new systems and new hires to comply?

Ms. Walton: The answer varies by State. In the States where Everytown has participated, it has not been difficult. The information is already available in the States; they just need to share it or hand it over. One of the points where education is needed is what it means to “hand over a record.” Some administrators expressed concern that sharing records could violate Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and could be seen as discrimination, particularly if a person has a mental health issue. It is important to note that the “mental illness” denial is given to people who have been formally adjudicated by the courts to be mentally ill according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Furthermore, gun dealers are not told the specific reason for a denial, only that the denial is valid.

Sen. Wayne Niederhauser (UT): In the discussion about loopholes, does your plan require that I put my son or a close friend through background checks or gun training, even if I know they are knowledgeable and responsible? Is there any language that separates someone we know vs a stranger when transferring a weapon in a private sale? Will it be laborious and inconvenient to get a gun license if we require training?

Ms. Walton: Transfer of a firearm to a family member is the one exception to requiring background checks. However, we have to weigh the minor hassle of a background check against the risk of violence. It would be difficult to define legally when “someone we know” should be exempt from the background check.

Mr. Kemp: There is some resistance among gun owners to requiring background checks for family members, but it is also a business opportunity. Some gun dealers also offer background checks, so they make a new customer. It is also important to have enough gun ranges conveniently located so that gun owners have ready access to proper training.

Sen. David Senjem (MN): Gun-related violence seems to be associated with drug wars and criminals. How can we contain that source of gun violence?

Ms. Walton: There is an increasing rate of gun violence in cities. Background checks could help stem that tide. For example, background checks are required in Chicago, so people who would be denied in Illinois, travel to Indiana to buy guns where there is no background check. If we have a nationwide gun permit requirement like a driver’s license, law enforcement could check for a valid license and confiscate a gun if the person was unlicensed.

Because so much gun violence stems from domestic violence, it would be effective to create the legal framework that defines steps that allow law enforcement to confiscate guns when domestic violence violations occur.

Sen. Eduardo Bhatia (PR): What about the problems related to automatic and semi-automatic weapons – the guns used in mass shootings, which we have seen more of in the last 3 years than in US history.

Mr. Kemp: The data show that only 3.7% of gun-violence deaths come from automatic or semi-automatic weapons. These events get news coverage. However, we will make more progress by focusing on the 97% of deaths that are caused by people using other guns, especially pistols. GOFRO focuses on background checks because all the research shows comprehensive background checks are the most effective tools to decrease gun violence. We do not have that requirement in every State. Guns are trafficked from States with lax regulation to more strictly controlled States. This “iron pipeline,” as this illegal trade is called, is a booming business.

Ms. Walton: Our organization is pushing for data-driven, evidence-based results. We are not arguing about the type of weapons used, but rather focusing on gun safety regulations, including background checks.

Sen. Ginny Burdick (OR): We are considering asking Congress to regulate semi-automatic weapons as machine guns are regulated. They require a Federal permit and registration after a very rigorous background check. This would give us an added level of safety. Currently there are 10-12,000 machine gun permits in Oregon.

Tom Finneran: Some people fear that background checks are the beginning of a slippery slope, where rights will be compromised leading to confiscation of all guns and the end of the Second Amendment.

Mr. Kemp: The majority of gun owners are in the middle, they support laws for background checks and greater gun safety. The data show that background checks reduce gun violence.

Speaker Biographies

Emily Walton

Emily Walton is the Regional Director of State Affairs at Everytown for Gun Safety, where she directs legislative strategy in 12 western states. Since 2014, she has worked on gun safety legislation in places like Utah, where she passed a bill keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, and in places like Alaska, Wyoming and Montana where she worked to keep guns out of K–12 schools and off of campuses.

An Idaho native, Ms. Walton has a strong background in electoral campaigns, issue advocacy, and civic engagement. She got her start in politics as a student when she was elected to lobby on behalf of over 20,000 students at Boise State University. In 2014, she was elected to, and still serves, on the Board of Trustees at the College of Western Idaho.

Her awards include the Young Professional of the Year award from Boise Young Professionals (2014), Women of the Year award from the Idaho Business Review (2013), and Accomplished Under 40 award from Idaho Business Review."

Paul Kemp

Paul Kemp is a founding board member and former board chairman for Gun Owners for Responsible Ownership (GOFRO). He is currently the organization’s Vice Chairman.

GOFRO is a membership of Oregon gun owners, sportsmen, hunters and outdoors enthusiasts unified by a commitment to minimize the chances that firearms don’t fall into the hands of felons, domestic abusers, or the dangerously mentally ill.

Mr. Kemp’s volunteerism also includes work with the Trauma Intervention Program (Portland Oregon Chapter, 2015–2017) and with Happy Valley’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). He has been a Big Brother for youth in the Portland Metro area and was a board member for the Clackamas Alliance, where he helped county church volunteers raise $250,000 for Habitat for Humanity.

He has worked in Portland’s engineering industry for 34 years. He was an associate and co-owner of SJO Consulting Engineers for 19 years.

Mr. Kemp enjoys outdoor sports including skiing, fishing, and hunting. He learned hunting with his dad, uncles and grandfather while growing up in Michigan, and later took his son on his first hunting trips. The two enjoy target shooting when his son is home from college.

JANUARY 11–14, 2018

Gun Violence Prevention

Emily Walton

Regional Director of State Affairs
Everytown for Gun Safety

Emily Walton introduced the Forum to Everytown for Gun Safety, the nation’s largest non-partisan national gun violence prevention organization, which includes more than 4 million mayors, parents, police, teachers, survivors, gun owners, and every-day Americans. The organization seeks a middle path by advocating for policies that protect Americans from gun violence while respecting the Second Amendment, she said.

The statistics on gun violence are staggering: every day, 96 Americans will die from gun violence, and the US gun homicide rate is 20 times the international average. Women in the US are 11 times more likely to be murdered with guns than women in other high-income countries, and 50 women are shot and killed by domestic abusers each month. The presence of a gun makes it 5 times more likely that domestic abuse will become lethal, and most mass shootings are incidents of domestic or family violence, according to research by Everytown.

...every day, 96 Americans will die from gun violence, and the US gun homicide rate is 20 times the international average.

Ms. Walton reminded the Forum that current laws prohibit certain categories of dangerous people—such as felons, domestic abusers, and people who have been adjudicated to be seriously mentally ill—from having guns. However, loopholes in US gun laws make it all too easy for people with dangerous histories to get guns.

Irresponsible and/or Illegal Gun Sales

An estimated 6 million guns change hands each year in the US without background checks, because they are not required by law for sales by unlicensed gun sellers at gun shows and on the Internet, where dozens of websites host ads selling tens of thousands of guns at a time. Anyone seeking to buy a gun without undergoing a background check can purchase a gun at the click of a mouse.

Undercover investigations by Everytown at gun shows disclosed that 62% of unlicensed sellers at gun shows are willing to sell guns to prohibited people. Furthermore, criminals are flocking to the unregulated Internet market to buy guns, Ms. Walton reported.  1 in 30 online gun buyers is criminally prohibited from possessing firearms. Twenty-nine percent of online gun ads are posted by high-volume sellers such as Armslist, which transfers an estimated 25,000 guns to criminals each year, thus illegally engaging in the gun sale business without a license, she pointed out.

Anyone seeking to buy a gun without undergoing a background check can purchase a gun at the click of a mouse....62% of unlicensed sellers at gun shows are willing to sell guns to prohibited people.1 in 30 online gun buyers is criminally prohibited from possessing firearms.

Solution 1: Background Checks

One of the single most effective ways to reduce gun violence and save lives is to close the loopholes in the laws that allow people to buy guns without background checks, Ms. Walton observed. The 1993 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act required that background checks be conducted on individuals before a firearm may be purchased from a federally licensed dealer, manufacturer, or importer. In 1998, Federal Bureau of Investigation launched the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to support background checks.

Ms. Walton pointed out that background checks are, “a policy that we know will save lives without burdening the rights of law-abiding gun owners. It’s the right thing to do -- AND is overwhelmingly popular.” Surveys show that 93% of Americans – including 83% of gun owners and 72% of NRA members – support criminal background checks for all gun sales, and this is true across regions (91% in GA; 94% in ND).

...93% of Americans – including 83% of gun owners and 72% of NRA members – support criminal background checks for allSince 1998, the background check system has blocked more than 3 million sales to dangerous people at gun dealers.

To date, 19 states have closed the loophole on background checks. Since 1998, the background check system has blocked more than 3 million sales to dangerous people at gun dealers. According to Everytown’s analysis of FBI and CDC data, in states that require background checks for all gun sales, there are:

47% fewer women shot to death by intimate partners

53% fewer law enforcement personnel killed with guns

47% fewer firearms suicides

How burdensome is it to conduct a background check? Ms. Walton noted that there are more licensed gun dealers than all McDonalds, Starbucks, and post offices combined.  “If you connect with an unlicensed seller on Armslist.com, you’ve got to meet him somewhere in person to complete the sale – and it’s no less convenient to meet him at a dealer than at a McDonalds or in a parking lot somewhere.  Also, most responsible gun owners agree they’ll go a little out of their way to ensure they’re not selling a gun to a murderer.”

Background checks are quick and easy

Solution 2: The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)

Improve Records Reporting

Ms. Walton presented a three-prong strategy to block dangerous individuals from buying guns. First, information in the NICS must be thorough, up-to-date, and shared across the country. Currently, State and Federal agencies have failed to send hundreds of thousands of records to the national background check databases. Tragically, an effective database might have saved the 32 people killed by the Virginia Tech shooter, if his records were in the system, and the 26 people killed in Sutherland, Texas, by a shooter whose assault record was never reported.

Enforce NICS Denials

Enforce NICS denials by requiring States to inform State and local law enforcement when a buyer fails a background check. For example, a new gun law in Washington State lets domestic violence survivors find out if their abusers illegally attempt to buy a gun. Officials there reported 1,231 denied applications — including 71 by people who are named in active protective orders.

Keep Guns Out of the Hands of Domestic Abusers

Pass State laws consistent with Federal laws. Federal law prohibits people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes and subject to active domestic violence restraining orders from having guns. State laws can prohibit domestic abusers who are convicted of misdemeanor domestic crimes and who are subject to final active restraining orders from having guns, and requiring them to surrender guns that they already have. State laws that restrict access to guns by domestic abusers who are subject to restraining orders see a 25% reduction in intimate partner homicide. However, Ms. Walton noted, Federal law still does not keep guns out of the hands of abusive dating partners or convicted stalkers.

Solution 3: Conceal Carry Laws

Ms. Walton reported that 88% of Americans support requiring safety training and a clean criminal record in order to carry a concealed handgun in public. Her organization supports the concealed carry of weapons but with certain core public safety standards – such as ensuring that permit holders have a clean criminal record and have basic safety training, and that guns are not carried in places such as schools, playgrounds, and bars. Despite the importance of gun safety training, only 38 States currently require a handgun safety course before a person can get a permit to carry a concealed handgun, including 20 states that require live-fire training.

...only 38 States currently require a handgun safety course before a person can get a permit to carry a concealed handgun, including 20 states that require live-fire training.

Everytown opposes efforts to weaken or dismantle any State’s concealed-carry permit system, Ms. Walton said. Because States’ concealed-carry standards vary widely, the organization opposes Federal efforts that would require every State to allow people from other States to carry concealed weapons within their borders. In 36 states, the minimum age to get a concealed-carry permit is 21. Permitless carry would let people as young as 18 carry concealed guns in public – even though this demographic commits nearly 4 times as many gun homicides as adults 21 and over. Twenty-nine States give law enforcement the authority to deny a permit to people who pose a danger to the community. In those States, permitless carry would strip law enforcement of this authority.

Solution 4: Red Flag Laws

Family members are often the first to know that their loved ones pose a serious threat to themselves or others, Ms. Walton reported, however they lack the tools and legal channels to respond to these 'red flag warnings' and keep people safe.  State law should allow family members or law enforcement to seek an order from a court that temporarily suspends a person's access to guns if evidence shows they are a threat to themselves or others.

We can support the Second Amendment while doing so much more to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, Ms. Walton concluded.

We can support the Second Amendment while doing so much more to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.

JANUARY 11–14, 2018

Gun Violence Prevention

Paul Kemp

Board Member
Gun Owners for Responsible Ownership (GOFRO)

Paul Kemp formed Gun Owners for Responsible Ownership (GOFRO), a non-profit organization for gun owners who have lost family members due to gun violence. On December 11, 2012, in a mall outside Portland, Oregon, 22-year-old Jacob Tyler Roberts opened fire on shoppers and employees with a semi-automatic rifle. He had stolen the unsecured AR-15 from a friend. Two people were killed in the shooting, 54-year-old Cindy Ann Yuille and 45-year-old Steven Forsyth, Paul Kemp’s brother-in-law. “No one in the US is immune from gun violence. It affects people across every socioeconomic, gender, age, racial, urban or rural, or political category. That’s why we need better gun safety laws,” Mr. Kemp said.

No one in the US is immune from gun violence.

Scale of US Gun Ownership

The US tops the list of countries with the most guns, owning about half the world’s guns while making up only 5% of the world population. The US has the highest number of guns per capita: an estimated 89 to 100 guns for every 100 Americans in 2013 – or approximately one firearm per person. The average American gun owner owns three guns, according to a 2015 survey conducted by Harvard and Northwestern University. More than a half of them own just one or two, whereas 14% of them – 7.7 million or 3% of the US population–own anywhere between eight to 140 guns. This 3% of the population owns half of the civilian guns in the US.

 The US has the highest number of guns per capita: an estimated 89 to 100 guns for every 100 Americans in 2013 – or approximately one firearm per person.

Safe Storage Laws

The Oregon Mall shooter was able to kill using his friend’s weapon because it was not locked up, and it was loaded, Mr. Kemp observed. The legal gun owner noticed the Stag-15 rifle was missing that morning, but he did not call police to report it stolen.

Safe storage laws promote responsible gun-owning practices by requiring gun owners to keep their firearms out of the reach of others, such as children or prohibited persons, who could use the weapon to deadly effect. These laws help prevent tragedies due to unintentional discharges, suicide, and gun theft by creating an environment helping ensure firearms are only used by their rightful owners.

Safe storage laws promote responsible gun-owning practices by requiring gun owners to keep their firearms out of the reach of others, such as children or prohibited persons, who could use the weapon to deadly effect.

Locking Devices

Mr. Kemp pointed out that effective locking devices can cost from as little as $10 to as much as $1000. Eleven States have laws concerning firearm locking devices. Massachusetts is the only State that requires that all firearms be stored with a lock in place; California, Connecticut, and New York impose this requirement in certain situations.

Other State laws require locking devices to accompany certain guns. Five of the 11 States also set standards for the design of locking devices or require them to be approved by a State agency for effectiveness. Only 3 States require firearms to be stored with a locking device in place if the person resides with someone who is ineligible to possess firearms.

Reporting Gun Thefts

“As a citizen and a law-abiding gun owner, the right action is to voluntarily report the gun was stolen,” Mr. Kemp declared. The results of not locking up and securing firearms goes far beyond impacting a family, it impacts the broader community.

Nine States require firearm owners to report the loss or theft of any firearms to law enforcement. Maryland, requires individuals to report the loss or theft of handguns and assault weapons but not other firearms, and Michigan requires owners to notify law enforcement about firearm thefts but not lost firearms. New Jersey has a law imposing civil liability for acts perpetrated with stolen firearms.

Gun Owners’ Support Gun Safety Laws

According to surveys by GOFRO, 80% of gun owners support background checks, and 73% would support legislation to make them mandatory; 73% support laws restricting silencers, and 75% oppose making it easier to buy a silencer. Importantly, 66% of gun owners would support a political candidate who proposed gun violence prevention legislation.

...66% of gun owners would support a political candidate who proposed gun violence prevention legislation.

Mr. Kemp commented on the disparity in gun laws across the States. “We need a national reciprocity bill that raises the bar; gun ownership should require a license, similar to a drivers’ license, that also entails periodic recertification,” he proposed.

Action for Senate Presidents

Concluding his remarks, Mr. Kemp said the impact of gun violence affects families and communities. State legislators are in the position to enforce existing laws and pass balanced legislation that will limit the number of deaths due to gun violence.

State legislators are in the position to enforce existing laws and pass balanced legislation that will limit the number of deaths due to gun violence.

Senators Wayne Niederhauser (UT) and Jonathan Dismang (AR) discuss gun violence prevention issues following the session.

Discussion

Sen. John Cullerton (IL): The Everytown organization helped pass 13 State domestic violence laws. But the rural caucus members in my State say they cannot vote for anything that the National Rifle Association (NRA) does not support or they will lose their seats. Did Everytown have the support of the NRA?

Ms. Walton: We have experienced neutrality from the NRA in some States and opposition in others. The gun lobby does not want background checks and this is a point of conflict. However, when we advocated for the domestic violence law in Utah, the NRA was silent. They also did not oppose laws enforcing National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) denials and do not resist enforcing laws currently on the books.

Sen. Ginny Burdick (OR): After 20 years working on this issue, I have discovered that, once gun owners understand my position, they are supportive. They ask me, “Do you want to take my gun away?” I respond, “Are you a convicted felon?” Gun owners are fine with the idea that convicted felons should not have guns.

As a legislator, my frustration is that there is a disconnect between the public and the legislators. Gun violence prevention has become a partisan issue. A small number of extremists are very loud and scary. But they do not speak for all gun owners. We had to get the politics out of the discussion. We created a Republican-Democratic coalition and, once we we able to put a Red Flag Law before the Oregon voters, they passed it.

Sen. Brent Hill (ID): We heard that NICS isn’t up-to-date and records are missing. Is it difficult or costly to put data into the system? Does it require new systems and new hires to comply?

Ms. Walton: The answer varies by State. In the States where Everytown has participated, it has not been difficult. The information is already available in the States; they just need to share it or hand it over. One of the points where education is needed is what it means to “hand over a record.” Some administrators expressed concern that sharing records could violate Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and could be seen as discrimination, particularly if a person has a mental health issue. It is important to note that the “mental illness” denial is given to people who have been formally adjudicated by the courts to be mentally ill according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Furthermore, gun dealers are not told the specific reason for a denial, only that the denial is valid.

Sen. Wayne Niederhauser (UT): In the discussion about loopholes, does your plan require that I put my son or a close friend through background checks or gun training, even if I know they are knowledgeable and responsible? Is there any language that separates someone we know vs a stranger when transferring a weapon in a private sale? Will it be laborious and inconvenient to get a gun license if we require training?

Ms. Walton: Transfer of a firearm to a family member is the one exception to requiring background checks. However, we have to weigh the minor hassle of a background check against the risk of violence. It would be difficult to define legally when “someone we know” should be exempt from the background check.

Mr. Kemp: There is some resistance among gun owners to requiring background checks for family members, but it is also a business opportunity. Some gun dealers also offer background checks, so they make a new customer. It is also important to have enough gun ranges conveniently located so that gun owners have ready access to proper training.

Sen. David Senjem (MN): Gun-related violence seems to be associated with drug wars and criminals. How can we contain that source of gun violence?

Ms. Walton: There is an increasing rate of gun violence in cities. Background checks could help stem that tide. For example, background checks are required in Chicago, so people who would be denied in Illinois, travel to Indiana to buy guns where there is no background check. If we have a nationwide gun permit requirement like a driver’s license, law enforcement could check for a valid license and confiscate a gun if the person was unlicensed.

Because so much gun violence stems from domestic violence, it would be effective to create the legal framework that defines steps that allow law enforcement to confiscate guns when domestic violence violations occur.

Sen. Eduardo Bhatia (PR): What about the problems related to automatic and semi-automatic weapons – the guns used in mass shootings, which we have seen more of in the last 3 years than in US history.

Mr. Kemp: The data show that only 3.7% of gun-violence deaths come from automatic or semi-automatic weapons. These events get news coverage. However, we will make more progress by focusing on the 97% of deaths that are caused by people using other guns, especially pistols. GOFRO focuses on background checks because all the research shows comprehensive background checks are the most effective tools to decrease gun violence. We do not have that requirement in every State. Guns are trafficked from States with lax regulation to more strictly controlled States. This “iron pipeline,” as this illegal trade is called, is a booming business.

Ms. Walton: Our organization is pushing for data-driven, evidence-based results. We are not arguing about the type of weapons used, but rather focusing on gun safety regulations, including background checks.

Sen. Ginny Burdick (OR): We are considering asking Congress to regulate semi-automatic weapons as machine guns are regulated. They require a Federal permit and registration after a very rigorous background check. This would give us an added level of safety. Currently there are 10-12,000 machine gun permits in Oregon.

Tom Finneran: Some people fear that background checks are the beginning of a slippery slope, where rights will be compromised leading to confiscation of all guns and the end of the Second Amendment.

Mr. Kemp: The majority of gun owners are in the middle, they support laws for background checks and greater gun safety. The data show that background checks reduce gun violence.

Speaker Biographies

Emily Walton

Emily Walton is the Regional Director of State Affairs at Everytown for Gun Safety, where she directs legislative strategy in 12 western states. Since 2014, she has worked on gun safety legislation in places like Utah, where she passed a bill keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, and in places like Alaska, Wyoming and Montana where she worked to keep guns out of K–12 schools and off of campuses.

An Idaho native, Ms. Walton has a strong background in electoral campaigns, issue advocacy, and civic engagement. She got her start in politics as a student when she was elected to lobby on behalf of over 20,000 students at Boise State University. In 2014, she was elected to, and still serves, on the Board of Trustees at the College of Western Idaho.

Her awards include the Young Professional of the Year award from Boise Young Professionals (2014), Women of the Year award from the Idaho Business Review (2013), and Accomplished Under 40 award from Idaho Business Review."

Paul Kemp

Paul Kemp is a founding board member and former board chairman for Gun Owners for Responsible Ownership (GOFRO). He is currently the organization’s Vice Chairman.

GOFRO is a membership of Oregon gun owners, sportsmen, hunters and outdoors enthusiasts unified by a commitment to minimize the chances that firearms don’t fall into the hands of felons, domestic abusers, or the dangerously mentally ill.

Mr. Kemp’s volunteerism also includes work with the Trauma Intervention Program (Portland Oregon Chapter, 2015–2017) and with Happy Valley’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). He has been a Big Brother for youth in the Portland Metro area and was a board member for the Clackamas Alliance, where he helped county church volunteers raise $250,000 for Habitat for Humanity.

He has worked in Portland’s engineering industry for 34 years. He was an associate and co-owner of SJO Consulting Engineers for 19 years.

Mr. Kemp enjoys outdoor sports including skiing, fishing, and hunting. He learned hunting with his dad, uncles and grandfather while growing up in Michigan, and later took his son on his first hunting trips. The two enjoy target shooting when his son is home from college.