This Sunday, a man wearing a tactical vest and armed with a military-style assault weapon, entered a small church in Texas, and murdered twenty-six people. In fewer than four minutes, the gunman killed four percent of the tiny town of Sutherland Springs.
Considering his history, it is clear that he never should have had access to a gun, let alone a military-style assault rifle. After being court-martialed in 2012 for beating his wife and breaking his young stepson’s skull, he served 12-months in confinement and was released from the Air Force with a Bad Conduct Discharge. While federal law prohibits convicted domestic violence abusers from purchasing a firearm, his offense was never entered into the federal database, allowing him to purchase four guns after his release.
He is not the only mass shooter with a history of domestic violence – fifty-four percent of mass shootings involve the death of partner or other family member. Data clearly shows that domestic violence is a key predictor of gun violence and mass shootings.
Ninety-three Americans die each day to gun violence. Sluggish federal regulation and an disconnectedpatchwork of state laws created an opportunity for this violent offender’s domestic violence conviction to fall through cracks. We desperately need to update the infrastructure of the system we already have and at the same time implement commonsense gun violence prevention legislation
Here are some reforms we can make now!
- Without improvements to the background check system more violence offenders will be able to access firearms. Only approximately 5% of domestic violence misdemeanor conviction records have been entered into the federal database, and most states don’t input protective orders at all.
- It is time to reinstate the federal assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. There is no legitimate reason for a civilian to own a weapon capable of such horrendous violence. Only seven states and the District of Columbia have an assault weapons ban.
- It is time to close the “boyfriend” loophole – it puts countless lives at risk. An individual who has been convicted of assault, but the person he assaulted is not his spouse or the mother of his child, is able to purchase and possess a firearm. In other words, a man convicted of assaulting his girlfriend can own a gun.
Until we pass comprehensive gun violence prevention legislation we will continue to mourn lives cut short.
The time for relying on hopes and prayers is over. We must act.
Sign our petition here!