Earlier this month we witnessed a tragic shooting in Tucson, AZ, leaving 6 dead, and 20 others — including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords — injured. While rhetoric from the far-fight that feeds distrust and hatred towards our politicians (especially among the mentally ill) needs to be called out and countered, another factor jumps out. Someone like Jared Lee Loughner should never have been able to buy a gun.

We already have laws that make it illegal for criminals and the mentally ill to purchase guns. But a broken background check system and wide enforcement loopholes — kept in place by the gun lobby and the National Rifle Association (NRA) — have made it difficult to keep guns out of the wrong hands. It’s time to close these gaps once and for all. You can help.

Please join us, along with Mayors Against Illegal Guns and others, in making it clear to politicians that everyday Americans support common sense reform and will stand with them if they lead in keeping guns from the most dangerous among us; and please ask your friends and family to join as well. It takes just a moment:

Two commonsense reforms could prevent future tragedies. First, we should ensure that all the names of people who should be prohibited from buying a gun are entered into the background check system. Then we must close the loopholes that allow people to purchase guns with no background check at all. It sounds easy — but the powerful gun lobby, led by the NRA, has stood in opposition.

The attempted assassination of a member of Congress has frightening implications for our political culture that we should take very seriously. But we should also take this moment to remember that dozens of ordinary people are murdered with guns every day.

It’s a problem that everyone should care about solving — but it disproportionately affects Black, poor, and other disadvantaged communities. Black men are 9 times more likely than white men to be murdered with guns. In too many Black communities across the country, gun violence is a constant danger.

The danger is fueled by the easy availability of guns for those who are legally prohibited from possessing them. And it is so easy for dangerous people to puchase guns because of deep flaws in the systems meant to prevent this from ever occurring. One problem is that those who should be prohibited from buying guns, such as felons and the mentally ill, don’t always make it into the federal background check database. That means gun stores who are trying to follow the law may inadvertently sell guns to dangerous people.

But perhaps more troubling, there are huge loopholes in the law that allow people to bypass background checks altogether. For instance, in the well-known “gun show loophole,” anyone can purchase deadly automatic weapons — weapons designed to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible — from a gun show with no background check whatsoever.

If any lesson is to be taken from the tragic events in Tucson, it is that these gaps can have deadly consequences. Now, with growing public support for change, there is a unique opportunity to strengthen America’s gun laws to keep these weapons out of the wrong hands.

Please stand with us and our partners at Mayors Against Illegal Guns in asking Congress to do just that. And when you do, please ask your friends and family to do the same.

Thanks and Peace,

— James, Gabriel, William, Dani, Natasha and the rest of the team
January 25th, 2011

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