Senate Gun Violence Prevention Bill Fails On Key Vote


On Wednesday, April 17, 2013, the U.S. Senate, by a margin of 54 yeas to 46 nays, defeated a key amendment to S. 649, the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013 which would have expanded the number of type of gun sales which would have required a background check of the purchaser before being completed (under the Senate rules, 3/5 of the Senate, or 60 Senators, were required to vote “yea” for the measure to pass).  Defeat of this amendment, as well as other amendments which followed to restrict the manufacture, sale or distribution of military-style assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips, as well as an amendment to increase prohibitions on “straw purchasers”, or people who buy guns only to resell them to those who cannot purchase them due to a problem in their background check (such as mental illness, a domestic dispute, or a criminal record), resulted in the bill being pulled from further consideration.

As long-time advocates for safe, sane and sensible gun violence prevention initiatives, the NAACP finds it outrageous and unacceptable that the some senators decided to put the profit interests of the gun lobby and gun manufacturers, dealers and distributors ahead of the protection of the people and the lives of our children.

All-too easy access to guns and the resulting gun violence are a major problem in the United States today.  This is especially true in communities of color.  In the first 100 days since the horrors of the Sandy Hook mass shooting on December 14, 2012, more than 3,000 Americans were killed by guns.  Based on data from the U.S. Center for Disease Control, shooting deaths will likely rise from over 22,000 in 2011 to 33,000 in 2015, surpassing the number of traffic fatalities, which are predicted to be around 32,000 that year.  The leading cause of death among African American teens, ages 15 to 19 in 2008 and 2009 was gun-related homicide.  African American children and teens were less than 15 percent of the total child population in 2008 and 2009 but accounted for 45 percent of all child and teen gun deaths.  Black males ages 15-19 were eight times as likely as White males of the same age and two-and-a-half times as likely as their Hispanic peers to be killed in a gun related homicide in 2009. 

Given the disproportionate murder and damage gun violence is having on our communities, the NAACP continues to advocate for a number of sane, sensible laws which will do a lot to eliminate the damage and devastation too often caused by gun violence.  Specifically, we support initiatives to:

  • Require universal background checks on all gun sales;
  • Ban military-style semi automatic assault guns;
  • Ban high capacity ammunition clips; and
  • Enact tough new criminal penalties for straw purchasers and gun traffickers. 

At this point, we are working with like-minded Senators, House Members and the White House to develop a strategy to enact meaningful gun violence prevention measures.  We may have suffered a setback, but we are not defeated.

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