|CSGV places ad in Columbia, S.C.’s The State urging sensible gun policies
Washington, DC−In the aftermath of the tragic June 17 shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, which killed nine people, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence is calling attention to the degenerate gun culture that continues to enable such horrific tragedies. Leaders of the NRA have made several offensive statements in the aftermath of the shooting, blaming the victims. CSGV is also emphasizing how this shooting makes the case for the critical need for “Gun Violence Restraining Order” laws in every state.
Fighting Back Against the NRA and the Gun Lobby
On June 23, CSGV placed a full-page ad in Columbia’s The State newspaper, highlighting comments made by NRA board member Charles Cotton the day after the shooting, Cotton blamed the tragedy on victim Rev. Clementa Pinckney for opposing the practice of carrying guns in a house of worship. The ad urges South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and the South Carolina legislature to pass more sensible gun policies that will keep guns away from those with a history of violence.
Since Cotton’s statement, other members of the gun lobby have made equally abhorrent comments in regards to the victims and survivors of the tragedy.
During an appearance on the NRA News show, Tony Katz called shooting victims’ family members’ statements in court forgiving Dylann Roof “a moment of serious weakness.” Katz argued that the “decent” response would have been for the survivors to retaliate by killing Roof’s family members.
NRA “Trigger the Vote” spokesman Chuck Norris also engaged in victim-blaming, writing that “faith is not an excuse to bypass self-defense [with a firearm].”
On a Houston radio show, Gun Owners of America executive director Larry Pratt also accused Rev. Pinckney of leaving his congregation “defenseless.” According to Pratt, “It was a gun-free zone, thanks in part to the pastor.”
The Case for a Gun Violence Restraining Order
Dylann Roof provides a model case for the value of a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO), a policy that was first developed by the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy, a group of mental and public health experts convened by the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, the 501 (c)(3) sister organization of CSGV. The GVRO would give family members and law enforcement a mechanism to temporarily remove firearms from a loved one who is in crisis. This promising new strategy was identified as a means to prevent violence by keeping guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous individuals. In Roof’s case, his friend took away his gun two weeks prior to the shooting after Roof shared his plans to commit mass murder based on racist views. But there was no legal structure in place for him to keep that gun out of Roof’s hands for any length of time.
The consortium issued reports in 2013 to state and federal policy makers. The development of the GVRO policy was the result of epidemiological research that identified behaviors associated with an increased risk of future violence. Those behaviors include – among other things – prior acts of violence, threats of violence, and substance and alcohol abuse. In the aftermath of the May 23, 2014, Isla Vista shooting, California was the first state to pass a GVRO; it will go into effect on January 1, 2016. A fact sheet detailing the GVRO is available here.
CSGV’s Response to the Shooting
After the shooting, CSGV issued a statement that read, “We refuse to entertain an immoral debate that places the blame on the victims and survivors of this shooting. The responsibility for this bloodshed falls squarely on the shoulders of those who have continued to engage in the idolatry of firearms in the wake of one massacre after another, whether for political power, or personal profit. It is they who ensure dangerous individuals continue to gain easy access to firearms in this country, no matter how many obvious warning signs these individuals display regarding a history of violence or mental illness.”