Rep. Robin Kelly, Democrat from the Illinois' 2nd Congressional district, on a press conference at the Dirksen Federal Building in downtown Chicago, DNAinfo reported today. The purpose of the press conference was the release of a 66-page report, "The 2014 Kelly Report on Gun Violence in America," also known as the "Kelly Report," which is the first-ever Congressional analysis of the nation’s gun violence epidemic that offers a blueprint for ending the violence with guns crisis in America.
The "Kelly Report" makes the stunning finding that "Approximately one million Americans have died from gunshot wounds in homicides, accidents, and suicides during the last three decades—more than the sum total of combat deaths in all the wars in U.S. history."
The "Kelly Report" calls for gun violence to be called a public health issue. "Over the past 50 years, our society has made far less progress in understanding how to protect our citizens from gun violence (and violence more broadly) than we have learned about how to protect citizens from other serious threats to life and health."
"Scientists, policymakers, and advocates are increasingly advised to use 'the public health approach' to address myriad social issues, from alcoholism to arthritis to vision care and war," argues the "Kelly Report."
It also takes elected officials and community leaders to stand tall and take action. However, Rep. Kelly will no longer stand up in the House for a moment of silence, because she argues, that is where it ends. Rep. Kelly agrees that what is needed is for all to stand up for common sense gun reform, but taking it to the next step of legislative action is what is needed most.
Standing up with Rep. Kelly at the Dirksen Federal Building were Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago; Anita Alvarez, Cook County State’s Attorney; Father Michael Pfleger, Pastor of St. Sabina's Church; Sheri Runner, Senior Vice President of the Chicago Urban League; Illinois State Representatives Marcus Evans, Kenneth Dunkin, Elgie Sims and Will Davis; Illinois State Senator Jackie Collins; Colleen Daley, Illinois Coalition to End Handgun Violence (ICHV); and Ronald Holt, Commander for Special Activities, Chicago Police Department.
The Kelly Report is collaboration between members of Congress, gun safety advocates, and public health/academic communities on the nation’s gun violence epidemic. Rep. Kelly emphasized the point that "The report is not anti-gun. It's pro common sense." To calm some on the right, Rep. Kelly added, "It strikes the right balance between protecting Second Amendment rights and protecting public safety by keeping guns out of the wrong hands. Our goal is to re-energize the gun reform debate and put safety of Americans at the top of the Congressional agenda."
Among the recommendations of the Kelly Report is the establishment of "firearm restraining orders to allow the courts to take away firearms away from someone deemed a danger. The Kelly Report also recommends in investments in smart gun technologies to prevent stolen guns from being used in crimes. Another Kelly Report recommendation is "repealing the legal immunities for gun manufacturers to allow gun violence victims to sue for damages."
Rep. Kelly also announced the introduction of a bill, H.R. 4946, The Crime Gun Tracing Act, which incentivizes law enforcement agencies to report 100 percent of their recovered crime guns to the National Tracing Center to better target gun trafficking operations and solve violent gun crimes. Rep. Kelly’s bill is the House companion to Sen. Durbin’s S. 1337 bill.
"Chicago is not an island," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. "It needs a level playing field." Emanuel backed up Kelly's call for "common sense" federal gun legislation, to keep guns from coming to Chicago from other states like Indiana, Wisconsin and even Mississippi. Emanuel says Chicago is also stepping up with many afterschool programs.
The federal government, not so much according to Emanuel. "The federal government, when it comes to the prevention side, walked away from what is important as it relates to preventing kids from being victims of gun violence," said Emanuel.
Ronald Holt, Chicago Police Department Commander for Special Activities, whose son Blair was killed by stray gunfire on a CTA bus, says keeping guns out of the hands of the wrong people is the key. WBBM's radio's Craig Dellimore reported that Holt said in a powerful statement, "There was a statement Blair was in the wrong place at the wrong time. No he wasn’t. The shooter was in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong thing."
Colleen Daley, Executive Director of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, said, "As the nations oldest and largest statewide organization in the country working to reduce death and injury caused by firearms, we are thrilled to be a part of Congresswoman Robin Kelly’s efforts to push for common sense solutions that will help keep our communities safe gun violence."
To read the complete report, click here at The 2014 Kelly Report on Gun Violence in America. The following are some of the highlights and interesting findings of the "Kelly Report:
- Gun violence is a multi-faceted issue. Both its causes and effects are diverse. Antiquated federal and state gun laws, inadequate mental health services and insufficient understanding of the long-term implications of gun violence all contribute to America’s current crisis.
- Although a large majority of its victims reside in inner city and economically, underserved communities, gun violence impacts every single American—in communities large and small, urban, suburban and rural. Therefore, addressing gun violence requires a holistic approach that involves action by local, state and federal officials and citizens from all corners of the country who are vested in putting an end to the bloodshed.
- One of the conclusions reached is that "Results do show that the United States, which has, per capita, more firearms and particularly more handguns than these other countries, as well as the most permissive gun control laws, also has a disproportionate number of firearm deaths—firearm homicides, firearm suicides, and firearm accidents.
- Since the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, more U.S. civilians have been killed with guns than all U.S. soldiers who have ever been killed in war—from the American Revolution to the present day. We are learning to live more safely with our cars; a public health approach may help us begin to learn to live more safely with our guns. Currently, far too many of us are dying. We believe the public health approach provides a blueprint for success.
- All developed countries require that drivers be licensed; like all other developed nations (and some U.S. states), we should require that gun owners be licensed. Other high-income countries (and some U.S. states) require gun owners be trained and store their guns safely. We should follow their lead.
- A vast majority of Americans support expanding background checks. A CBS News/New York Times poll in January 2013 found that 92 percent of Americans support background checks for all gun sales. 93 percent of gun households and 85 percent of those who live with a member of the NRA support background checks for all gun sales.