U.S. Senate holds hearings on gun violence prevention
Today, the Senate is holding hearings featuring over 60 survivors of gun violence, as well as their family members. Notably, the group includes 13 survivors or family members of victims of the shooting spree at Cong. Gabby Giffords's town hall. The aim of the hearings? To encourage lawmakers to close holes in the gun background check system.
Punctuating their visit is a report by Mayors Against Illegal Gun Violence that finds missing records could well be putting guns in the hands of killers. The report found that millions of records potentially identifing people as mentally ill or drug abusers are missing from the federal background check database of slack reporting by state agencies.
Among the people testifying? Nick Bankston, Dominique Land, Toby Hoover, Sally and John Sheasby, all Ohio residents.
Nick survived being shot three times at a house party in 2007. His friend Eric Reeves was killed in the shooting. Dominique is Nick’s cousin, and he called the ambulance that saved Nick’s life.
Toby’s husband, Dale Stone, was shot and killed in 1973 in Ohio. Toby has since become an advocate for stronger gun laws and serves as the Executive Director to the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence.
Sally and John’s 29-year-old son Jonathan Sheasby went missing in 2005, and his body was found in a field 83 days later. He had been shot and killed by an ex-convict on parole whose guns should have been confiscated, but the parole officer did not have his correct address.
The report also found that federal agencies are not reporting requirements to the background check system despite a law that requires all federal agencies report “any record of any person” who is prohibited from purchasing firearms to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
Had rigorous application of that system been in place, Arizona's Jared Loughner, the shooter at Giffords's town hall, might not have been able to purchase the guns he used in that shooting spree.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is also scheduled to deliver signatures from 350,000 people asking for the gun check system to be fixed.
The report also found, among other things, that:
- 23 states and the District of Columbia have submitted less than 100 mental health records to the federal database, and
- 17 states have submitted less than 10 mental health records and four states haven’t submitted any records at all.
On the substance abuse records side, 44 states submitted less than 10 records while 33 states haven’t turned in a single record.
The Senate Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism hearing is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. You can read the full report here: http://mayorsagainstillegalguns.org/downloads/pdf/maig_mimeo_revb.pdf