Make Them Hear You! is a weekly feature on KGNU, produced by Chris Mohr, letting listeners know how they can have their voices heard on issues up before Congress. You can hear it Wednesday mornings at 8.20am during the Morning Magazine.
The March for our Lives Rallies and Marches nationwide were enormously important. The gun issue is now waking up a whole new generation, and their power is nothing short of incredible. Republicans note that a new generation of voters is suddenly activating. Time will tell whether their fear of the NRA will finally be overcome by the voices and votes of this generation. Here are some historical facts that may help sway them. Republicans used to view gun regulations very differently.
The Mulford Act was a 1967 California bill that banned the carrying of loaded weapons in public. Governor Ronald Reagan commented that he saw “no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons” and that guns were a “ridiculous way to solve problems that have to be solved among people of good will.”
Reagan also endorsed the proposed Brady Law that established federal background checks of firearm buyers for criminal records and histories of mental disturbance. His support was significant in the eventual passage of the law in 1993. Reagan’s endorsement in 1994 of the assault weapons ban that was a major attempt to deal with efforts by domestic arms makers to sell adapted weapons of war to civilian buyers in the name of sportsmanship. Both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush have supported closing the so-called “gun show loophole,” and both supported an “assault weapons” ban. Sounds reasonable.
Republican congresspeople need to know that 70% of Americans now support stricter gun regulations in general. Over 50% of gun owners favor it, and about half of Republicans do (AP/NORC Center), the highest percentages ever. 97% support universal background checks. 83% support mandatory waiting periods for all gun purchases. 67% support nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons. 59% say if more people carried guns, the U.S. would be LESS safe.
And here’s why the kids are marching for their lives. For every criminal killed in self-defense, 34 innocent people die. The CDC reports that over 26,000 kids have died from gunshot wounds between 1999 and 2016. Firearm injuries are the leading cause of death for kids ages 1-17 (Journal of Pediatrics). Among first-world countries, the US accounts for 91% of all firearms deaths for kids under 15 (American Journal of Medicine). Gun fatalities among children rose 30% from 2013-2016, to 1637 fatalities in 2016, or more than four a day.
Teens age 13-17 account for 85% of child firearms fatalities (CDC). 59% of gun deaths with children are homicides. But there were also 8102 gun suicides from 1999-2016, and 1899 unintentional shooting fatalities of kids.
States with strong background check policies have consistently lower death rates for kids. A RAND Corp. study found that the two most effective policies to reduce gun deaths among children are stricter background checks and enforcement of child access prevention laws. If you want our leaders to know these facts as they vote on gun regulations, you can share them with your congressperson or Senator.