I took part in the No More Names New Jersey stop last month. It was an honor to read a small portion of the names of gun violence victims, and it was heart-wrenching and humbling to meet with many families who have lost sons, daughters, brothers, parents to gun violence. The main message, in addition to honoring those lost to gun violence in the last nine months, was to urge Congress to address the health crisis that has been attacking our country through common sense legislation. The clearest and most effective being Universal Background Checks.
Representative Frank Pallone, a great defender of gun violence prevention, was resolute in his support for common sense gun legislation at the New Jersey stop. Montclair was well-represented with Deputy Mayor Russo, Marcia Marley of BlueWave NJ, and Nicola Bocour of Ceasefire NJ all speaking. Some speakers were quite moving on a personal level, others spoke strongly and passionately about legislative issues. You can read more about the NJ event here or at the No More Names site here. Nicola Bocour, project director for Ceasefire NJ, had a powerful message about the need for universal background checks on a federal level. Her words are reprinted here with permission.
“We believe that New Jersey is an important stop for this tour, as we can help put a spotlight on the positive impact of common-sense gun legislation. Because we have been fortunate to have had so many leaders who have worked to pass strong gun violence prevention laws on both the state and federal level — and we have seen that those laws work.
We know that common-sense measures, like background checks, will help to keep guns out of the wrong hands. Here in New Jersey, approximately 75% of guns used in crime are coming in from other states – states with weaker gun laws where criminals can easily buy as many guns as they want, and legally. And New Jersey, a longtime implementor of background checks, has one of the lowest gun export rates in the nation. Now, New Jersey has gun dealers – in fact we have more licensed gun dealers than we do McDonalds! – and we have criminals, so why is this? The answer is simple: Because background checks work — they make it harder for criminals to get their hands on guns.
Background checks work. In fact, in states that require background checks for private sales of handguns, the rate of women murdered with a firearm by an intimate partner is reduced by 38%. And in states that require background checks for private sales of handguns, the rate of suicide with a firearm is reduced by 49%. And in these states, while gun violence was indeed being prevented, the rates of women murdered by an intimate partner and of suicide by means other than a gun remained the same. So why is this? Because background checks work — they save lives.
The reality is: if we do not demand real and meaningful change in this country, people will continue to die in devastating numbers from gun violence. Universal background checks are a change we desperately need — a change the American people want to see. Nationwide, the public has cried out for response by our elected leaders. In this country, 82% of gun owners themselves support universal background checks. And here in the Garden State, 96% of New Jerseyans want universal background checks. And in Congressman Leonard Lance’s district, 92% of his constituents want universal background checks. And 89% in Congressman Runyan’s district. And 97% in Congressman Frelinghuysen’s district. And in Congressman Chris Smith’s district, 100% of his constituents want universal background checks! So we, as New Jerseyans and Americans, call on these elected representatives to represent the will of the people who put them in office. Stop listening to the gun industry and the gun lobby – and start listening to us, the public, and the people who are affected by gun violence every single day! Start protecting us – our kids, our communities, our America. Please, Congressmen, support universal background checks now.”
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America tools to raise your voice.