Support common-sense gun legislation

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Background: Please encourage your senators to support legislation to reduce gun violence. On February 27, 2019 the House passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act (H.R. 8), to require background checks for all firearm sales, including private, online and gun show sales. Polling shows broad public support among both Republicans and Democrats for expanded background checks. A companion bill, S. 42, has been introduced in the Senate but continues to be tabled by Senate leadership.

Faith reflection: “May the triggers of our streets be beaten into plowshares. May the triggers of our hearts be met with the open arms of our neighbors. May we trust in the transformative power of your refining fire. Forge us to be instruments of your peace.” –Excerpt from prayer by Mike Martin, in A Loaded Conversation: An invitation to talk about guns

Contact Congress today.

Action alert updated August 16, 2019 by John-Michael Cotignola-Pickens, Criminal Justice Education & Advocacy Coordinator.


  1. Arlen Epp

    Dear Senators Young and Braun: Please support HR 8 and S 42, two bills focused on background checks for the purpose of purchasing guns. There is very strong bipartisan public support for this action including up to 90% of the public according to the sources I have seen. Also, please support HR 1134 and S 459 to prevent the Trump Administration from selling guns abroad more easily. We must curb the spread of violence. If you accepted financial aid in any form from the NRA please return that money to them and become advocates for a safer less violent world. I am a person of faith and I believe my faith and the Christian faith call all of us to reduce violence in every way possible. This is one way to begin to reduce some of the violence in our world. Another would be to support legislation to stop the US involvement in the many military engagements it is involved in around the world. I understand that these wars are good for the military industrial complex. They are not good for people. The excessive billions that the US spends on military enterprises is unnecessary. We are far and away the strongest military power in the world. This money needs to be used for peaceful purposes such as infra structure, medicare for all, affordable universal health insurance that covers all medical expenses, to refurbish our public schools across the country and many other humanitarian and justice related causes. – Arlen Epp

  2. jammer20p

    Instead of the usual claims that our legislation is popular or common sense, we should provide
    1) factual analysis of what problem we purport to address.
    2) factual analysis of how proposed legislation would address said problem.
    3) factual analysis of potential burden this legislation will impose on regulatory systems.
    4) factual analysis of negative impact on non criminal populations.

    It takes courage to turn away from the popular – and false – narratives and look at truth. Very, very uncomfortable.

  3. James Kauffman

    Your references include the Loaded Conversation An Invitation to Talk About Guns document, which claims that ” These perspectives represent findings from a survey answered by 264 people across Anabaptist churches, as well as 10 in-depth interviews done with people across a diverse demographic.” Where can we find the presentation of this survey and results?

  4. Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach

    The survey was posted on MCC’s Facebook page and also sent to representatives from MCC’s supporting denominations. In addition, MCC staff interviewed individuals to ensure that a variety of perspectives on this issue were represented. The results of the survey inform the resource, A Loaded Conversation, but were not compiled for public presentation.

  5. James

    RLS – thanks for your response. It’s helpful to know that the information is undocumented.

  6. James

    RLS, I’m getting more concerned about the “broad public support” for this bill. What if we have been misinformed? For example, MCC’s Washington E-Memo of Feb 4 includes this documentation in support of this bill: “On January 8, 2011, Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot in Tucson, AZ. On January 8, 2019, House Democratic leadership introduced a bill requiring universal background checks for all gun purchases.” MCC’s juxtaposition implies the background check legislation relates somehow to the shooting. But Jared Loughner PASSED the background check, actually showing the ineffectiveness of the system.
    In a similar vein, ChD (not her/his real name) of MCC writes that “40% of gun sales occur without a background check”. The Washington Post Fact Checker rates this comment as 3 Pinocchios in 2013 in response to Barack Hussein Obama – and 3 Pinocchios in 2015 for Hillary Clinton – and 4 Pinocchios in 2018 for Bernie Sanders. The NRA rates this statement as FALSE. rates this statement as FALSE. WUSA9 found this statement was FALSE. rates this comment as FALSE. Where does ChD get her/his 40% number? A study of 251 people conducted in 1994, before the background check system was operational. That analysis concluded that 35.7% of gun owners did not get their gun from an FFL. This includes purchases, as well as guns received as gifts and inheritances. ChD simply rounds 35.7 up to 40, and ignores the gifts and inheritances label. Jens Ludwig, an author of the 1994 study, tells us the old data actually shows 14-22% of sales occurred without a background check. Unpublished data from the 2004 National Firearms Survey show that 9% of firearm transfers were private sales. In 2015 Miller et al determined that 22% of gun owners acquired a firearm without a background check.
    In a similar vein, MCC reports that “gun shows are totally unregulated platforms, where criminals can obtain their weapons of choice”. But reading form 4473 and its instructions shows that Federal background check laws are the same for all venues, whether that be gun shows, flea markets, stores, alleys, or my front yard. Many states have ADDITIONAL restrictions on gun shows. The Columbine shooters were clear examples of criminals who not only were unsuccessful at purchasing guns at a gun show, but also couldn’t find their ‘weapon of choice’ at a gun show. One NIJ study reported that 2% of criminal guns came from gun shows. A recent survey by DOJ found that 0.8% of criminals got their gun at a gun show.
    In a similar vein, MCC has repeatedly claimed that the Machin-Toomey bill (an older universal background check bill) would have prevented the Sandy Hook shooting. This assertion is unsupportable, since Adam got the guns from his mother, and Manchin-Toomey (as does the subject bill) exempts gun transfers between family members.
    Perhaps most of us who are demonstrating “broad public support” for this bill have simply been mislead. RLS, what do you think the broad public support is based on? And, are we doing the right thing in supporting this bill?

  7. Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach

    The reference to “broad public support” links to polling from the Pew Research Center in October 2018. It indicates that 85 percent of Americans support background checks for private gun sales and sales at gun shows (91 percent of Democrats polled and 79 percent of Republicans polled).

    As far as the 40 percent of gun sales happening without background checks, the percent varies widely by state but you are correct that more recent statistics put it closer to 22 percent nationally ( While background checks alone will not end gun violence, “in states that go beyond federal law and require background checks on point-of-sale check and/or purchase permit, there are lower rates of firearm homicide, firearm suicide and firearm trafficking” (

  8. James

    RLS – I didn’t say that “more recent statistics put it closer to 22 percent nationally”. We see that the 40% value was NEVER correct, going back to the original study in 1994. This supports my concern that the broad public support for this bill (which I have never denied) is based on false information – in this case decades of false information.

    The poster you linked to was provided by Michael Bloomberg’s group. MB is spending over $50,000,000 of his own money to force gun control legislation. They have developed some good materials, like that poster, but most Americans recognize MB’s work as biased. In terms of our focus here, a bill that “establishes new background check requirements for firearm transfers between private parties”, you quote that “in states that go beyond federal law and require background checks on point-of-sale check and/or purchase permit, there are lower rates of firearm homicide, firearm suicide and firearm trafficking”. If you would read MB’s footnotes for that comment (+10 pts MB for providing references!) you’ll see the studies included many many laws (up to 27) in addition to the private sale background check provision. The permit to purchase (ptp) program, for example, was included. Ptp is much more effective than pos background checks. Thus we cannot ascribe the study results to legislating pos background checks. Also, see this direct quote from your reference: “It is important to note that our study was ecological and cross-sectional and COULD NOT DETERMINE CAUSE-AND-EFFECT RELATIONSHIP.” Well, at least they’re honest. The cited references also state “with the greatest differences associated with strong gun dealer regulations and discretionary handgun purchase permit licensing.” and “The association with firearm suicide was not significant after adjusting for household gun ownership levels.” and again “although we found that states with more legislation have lower fatality rates, ie, are “safer” states, in a cross-sectional ecological study we COULD NOT DETERMINE IF THE GREATER NUMBER OF LAWS WERE THE REASON FOR THE REDUCED FATALITY RATES.” More from your sources: “Discretionary permit-to-purchase systems are likely to result in far fewer potentially dangerous individuals lawfully purchasing guns and thus enhance public safety in ways unrelated to gun trafficking.” “Further research is needed to examine the relationships between gun trafficking indicators and severe acts of violence including homicides and WHETHER COMPREHENSIVE REGULATION AND ENFORCEMENT OF GUN SALES LAWS DETER CRIMINAL GUN USE SUFFICIENTLY TO AFFECT THESE OUTCOMES.”

    RLS, do you see what I mean? A respected organization like MCC provides a powerful quote in support of our desired legislation. “In states that go beyond federal law and require background checks on point-of-sale check and/or purchase permit, there are lower rates of firearm homicide, firearm suicide and firearm trafficking”. So, most people reading that say to themselves “Sounds good to me. I support this legislation. It’s common sense. Let’s vote and get back to chores”. But when we look at the background we find that the information is based on different legislation than we’re advocating for, and the study authors are quite clear on the issue of correlation not being equal to causation.

    As we process this together, I’m getting a new idea. It seems like the confirmed “broad public support” finding isn’t based on the value of the legislation, it’s based on how many people don’t check their sources. Looking at MCC alone, within this interchange we’ve seen, what, 6 or 7 specific examples of, shall we say, misrepresentation. But how many readers were aware of that? How many checked? Looking at public responses… uhm… only 1 person. Perhaps others raised questions separately. Do you think it’s fair to say that 90% of the people accept MCC’s claims without checking, which correlates strongly with the 90% support for this bill? This could be a fascinating study to pursue!

    Thanks again for the dialog. I see that my last post got deleted. Sorry if it was too pointed. Hopefully this one is phrased acceptably.

  9. John L.

    James is correct in having suspicions about how your data is presented. We just came through an election cycle where the pollsters told us with “proven science” that Hillary was going to win by historic margins and that Trump had no path victory. How’d that work out??
    Then add to that pronouncements by folks like Mark Rosenberg of the CDC. “We need to revolutionize the way we look at guns, like what we did with cigarettes. It used to be that smoking was a glamour symbol — cool, sexy, macho. Now it is dirty, deadly — and banned.
    Mark Rosenberg is director of the National Center for Injury Prevention, a division of the National Centers for Disease Control. So how does one go about achieving that political goal of “banning guns”?
    One way is to have CDC personal who in their own words describe their job as “providing data” that will help that happen. Tie that in with your referencing known “ban gun/ban gun owner” groups and a reasonable mind would have some questions.
    It is reasonable to question this stuff. I for one, question why we are so interested in increasing criminalization when it has been proven it will do nothing to reduce crime or violence. For example; This is from MCC’s “Preventing Gun Violence” paper
    “Universal background checks In contrast to sales by federally licensed dealers, background checks are not required for purchases through commercial markets such as online sites, gun shows and private sales. Implementing a universal background check will close these loopholes and ensure that only those who would use guns responsibly would have access to them.”

    There is no “loophole”. But NO! you say “you could sell your gun to your local mass murderer and there is no law to stop you”!! Never mind that obeying laws hasn’t been a hallmark of mass murderers, there are still laws that apply. It is illegal for any Felon or otherwise “prohibited” person to purchase a firearm from anyone, period! Doesn’t matter who or where, it is illegal for them to attempt to purchase or even handle a firearm. It is illegal for me to sell one to them and it is illegal for me to even let them handle a firearm that I own, ILLEGAL ANYWHERE, ALL THE TIME! So we are going to reduce crime by making hundreds of thousands of previously non criminal folks criminal? This is simply stating that the “State” has a vested interest in what two consenting adults do with their private property. It will not affect any criminal because by definition, they don’t follow the law! And it is misleading as well. ANY dealer whether or not they sell in a store, or on an online site, or at a gun show HAS to run a “NICS” Background Check for every sale. All laws apply everywhere.
    Since criminals who buy guns do so illegally to begin with there is no way to “ensure” that they will not break as many laws as your average drug user. They do not seem to have much trouble breaking current laws prohibiting “access”

    Oh…. and how pray tell, is our ever honest and decent “government” going to be able to tell if I have broken this law? Inquiring minds would like to know! Their track record in enforcing laws “non-violently” is not particularly stellar.

    Plus there is the implication that all 100+ million gun owners are even interested in selling to people whom we know present a risk, felon or not. That tells us volumes about what you think of us as human beings. Gun owners are the new “unclean”, “the other”
    There is more in the MCC piece that is simply “bad law”, Well I guess it’s bad if what you want to do is reduce violence, but if what you want to do is create more “criminals” then we are right on track.
    All it does is provide additional criminalization for people who are doing nothing illegal and provide a bad precedent for restricting a property transaction between non-prohibited consenting adults. It is just a way to provide more victims for that “mass incarceration” system that some us work against.

    What I would think would be most problematic for us would be the notion that this would somehow reduce violence. I am not quite sure how police showing up with a SWAT team to confiscate your guns or any other property is going to result in less violence. Confiscation after all, is what the battles of Lexington and Concorde were all about and confiscation is what you will have once it is determined that you have violated some new and/or obscure law. You will be a “prohibited” person, you will have great difficulty in exercising certain fundamental human rights. And if you understand the 1st, 2nd amendments to the constitution, you understand why those in power really don’t want you to exercise those rights.
    It is all very political, and I have to question why we have such a vested interest in mitigating someone’s civil rights??

  10. James

    RLS – ref your comment “As far as the 40 percent of gun SALES happening without background checks, the percent varies widely by state but you are correct that more recent statistics put it closer to 22 percent nationally (”
    I’m still not sure we’re being clear. The 2 studies you referenced in that comment did not determine how many SALES took place without background checks – they estimated the TOTAL GUNS TRANSFERRED without a background check. Remember, the legislation we’re pushing for exempts transfers between family members and many transfers between friends or acquaintances. We also know that a felon who is trading 2 gm of coke for a shotgun isn’t going to take a bus across Philadelphia (carrying the shotgun because the dealer has to check the serial number) (but I digress) looking for a gun shop to run the background check. Again, your “22%” quote does not refer to guns sold without a background check – it refers to all transfers including gifts, inheritance, and purchase. And, yes, I noticed you only acknowledged the most recent study, without agreeing that the 40% number was never true, and we have known that since 1994. almost 25 yrs. Politifact websites refer to MCC’s stance as the ‘zombie’ claim, because it keeps coming back year after year no many how many times it’s proven false.

    I know this is way too many comments for our favorite gun control law, but it’s so fascinating to me what we learn when we look more closely, In your 22% comment, you quoted an article by The Guardian, rather than linking to the study itself. (This is not unusual…) As I read the study in more detail, I noticed that it was funded by the Joyce Foundation and Fund For A Safer Future. Uh-oh. No bias here. So… look at this gem, from the report, from a study designed to determine where folk are getting their guns: FIREARM PURCHASES MADE BETWEEN INDIVIDUALS, AT A GUN SHOW, OR ONLINE WERE CODED AS PRIVATE SALES, BUT THOSE THAT OCCURRED AT STORES OR PAWNSHOPS, WHICH BY FEDERAL LAW ARE REQUIRED TO BE LICENSED AS FIREARM DEALERS, WERE NOT. Wow! That is incredible. The scientists just decided that licensed dealers don’t sell at gun shows or online, so all of those purchases were claimed to be private sales. Look at and see how many dealers there are (and while you’re there note how many sellers say SHIP ONLY TO FFL). Go to any gun show and compare the number of guns available from dealers vs private sellers. Remember too that if you buy a gun online and it needs to be shipped, it MUST go to an FFL, who runs a background check on you before you get the gun. Regardless of whether the seller was an unlicensed individual or an FFL. Can’t ship a gun to a non-licensee, with rare exceptions. That’s why I posit – just my opinion – that internet sales have INCREASED the proportion of private sales subject to background checks – because the wide geography of the internet gun store leads to shipping guns which REQUIRES an FFL and background check. Interesting, right? Sorry for going off topic. The anthropology of church groups engaging in political activism is just fascinating. The things we’re saying out there…

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