Lisa Ring (GA-01) Issue Statement

I want to start by saying, protecting people from the epidemic of gun violence is not the same as taking people’s guns. I was advised not to address the issue of gun violence at all, because the powerful gun lobby in our country has shaped and controlled a segment of gun-rights enthusiasts who are vocally confusing the two. But the amount of gun violence in our nation is staggering, and we must confront it head on.

The 2nd Amendment was beneficial to arming our militias against the British in the 18th Century, but has nothing to do with what will best keep Americans safe in 2018. I point this out as a former corrections officer and a gun owner, and the wife of an infantryman and gun owner. Addressing the issue of guns in our country is about having sensible protections for society. This is not too much to expect from our Congress.

As of the writing of this, January 31, 2018, there have been 4,559 shooting incidents this year in the U.S. In that one-month period, 1,219 people were shot to death. Last year in the 1st District of Georgia, 38 people died from gun violence, 17 of them were children under the age of 17. This is a public health crisis and we need to treat it as such.

We can reduce gun violence together by creating a culture of gun safety — funding CDC research, passing sensible gun laws, and collaborating as communities to address the issue. Sensible gun legislation would include:

Universal background checks for all gun sales (which 95% of Americans support).

Required training and on-going refresher training.

Banning accessories for assault style weapons that use the recoil to fire shots in rapid succession and high capacity magazines for civilians.

Limiting bulk purchases of handguns, requiring reporting for lost or stolen guns, and keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and those at-risk for violent behavior.

Keeping guns out of inappropriate areas, like school campuses and establishments serving alcohol.

Since there are almost twice as many suicide deaths by guns than homicides (22,000 per year), mental health treatment and the removal of its stigma, as well as suicide prevention programs, are crucial components to reducing gun violence.

While sensible gun legislation greatly reduces gun violence, we must also work within our communities to address the causes of violence, particularly in our underserved urban communities where homicide rates are often 10 times the national average. By creating mentoring programs, group violence intervention programs, cure violence intervention programs, and hospital-based intervention programs, we can follow the lead of Richmond, California. At one time, Richmond was one of the most violent places in America. Through the passage of strong, sensible gun laws, and collaborating with respected leaders in the community to form and implement violence intervention programs, their gun homicide rate dropped over 75%.

We can do the same across our country. It is beyond time to fix the scourge of gun violence that has gripped our nation. In my lifetime, we have lost over a million and a half people to gun violence. That number is greater than the number of Americans lost in all wars combined. It’s time for lawmakers and communities to stand together to end this senseless loss of lives to gun violence.