The Year in Review
This year there were plenty of successes for gun violence prevention. Here’s a look at what happened in Connecticut and Nationally in 2014.
Drop in homicides:
- 2012: 115 homicides
- 2013: 71 homicides
- 2014: 52 homicides (Up through December 17th)
Successes of the 2013 law:
According to Governor Malloy’s office, in the first year of SB 1160, Connecticut’s historic gun violence prevention law, 1,747 pistol permits were revoked for reasons including drunk driving, mental health commitments, restraining and protective orders in domestic violence cases. 210 people tried to buy rifles and shotguns and were denied when background checks turned up felony convictions, undocumented alien status and domestic violence charges. Most important was the stunning decline in gun homicides in 2013 and again in 2014.
Chris Christie’s visit:
When New Jersey Governor Christ Christie came to Greenwich for a fundraising event for Republican candidate for Governor Tom Foley, CT Voters for Gun Safety successfully organized a peaceful protest of the Governor’s veto of a bill that would limit magazine capacity in NJ to 10 rounds and his inhospitable attitude towards parents of the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy. About 200 people came to peacefully protest Governor Chris Christie and help draw attention to the issues.
In an election season dominated by the issues of gun violence prevention and a slow economy, advocates of gun violence prevention won clear victories. Of the 106 candidates who voted yes on SB 1160 and were running for re-election, 98 were successful, with clear majorities in both chambers.
Our Report Card:
The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence has again ranked Connecticut 2nd in the nation on the strength of its gun laws. Connecticut was also one of six states to receive an “A” grade. Connecticut also has one of the lowest gun death rates in the country (45th) which correlates with the larger trend of strong gun laws being paired with low gun death rates.
In the Nation
Jay Leno Listens to Newtown Advocates:
After several gun violence prevention groups called on Jay Leno to cancel his performance at the annual Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) show, Leno agreed, saying to Mother Jones, “I understand it’s Newtown, and of course I get it. It’s just sometimes, mistakes get made.” The event is put on by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which opposed the federal background checks bill in Congress after the Sandy Hook tragedy.
Washington’s Universal Background Check Initiative Passes:
In the 2014 election the state of Washington passed a ballot initiative which would require background checks on all gun purchases, even from private sellers. A separate initiative put forth by the state’s gun lobby would have prevented the government from confiscating firearms without due process, but this initiative was defeated 55-45. The election was heavily influenced by a shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, in which five students were killed and one injured. Though the initiative would not have stopped the shooter from obtaining a gun, the tragedy likely inspired more support for gun violence prevention.
Pew Forgets to Put Poll in Context:
On December 10, Pew released the results of a periodic survey that asks respondents whether it is more important to “control gun ownership” or to “protect the right of Americans to own guns.” Pew reported that since January 2013, the number of people who chose gun rights is up seven points to 52%, while support for regulating guns has fallen five points to 46%. However, gun violence prevention groups highlighted that the poll draws a false contrast between the two positions. Commonsense gun regulation does not have to conflict with the rights of Americans to own guns, and support for specific measures is much higher than 46%. Universal background checks, for example, enjoy support from 92% of the public. Carroll Doherty, Pew’s director of political research, has admitted that it is “probably not” a perfect question, admitting that the phrasing of the question may have biased the results.
Vivek Murthy Confirmed as Nation’s Top Doctor:
After waiting over a year for a confirmation vote, Surgeon General Appointee Vivek Murthy was finally confirmed on December 15th. Murthy was opposed by the NRA for his support of gun violence prevention laws, based mostly on a 2012 tweet which stated that “guns are a health care issue.” With the Ebola crisis highlighting our need for a Surgeon General, a vote was finally called, and Murthy was confirmed 51-43.
Although it’s been a great year, there’s a lot left to do. In the upcoming year, CAGV will focus on legislative initiatives including holding gun owners liable for safe storage of their weapons, and requiring law enforcement to remove the guns from the subjects of restraining orders as soon as they are filed. CAGV will also work on expanding support for Project Longevity, the successful community policing program in Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport, and updating the database used for Connecticut’s background checks.