May 13, 2001
Press Release
NEW YORK: Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY) joined members of the Million Mom March today, to announce the planned delivery of thousands of postcards from New Yorkers to the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Dennis Hastert (R-IL) calling for sensible gun safety legislation at a federal level. Last year, Maloney sponsored a bus from New York City to the Million Mom March in Washington, D.C. This year, the slogan of the Million Mom March is "from a march to a movement" and New York mothers are leading the charge. Congresswoman Maloney released the following statement at today's event:

"These postcards, these thousands of New York voices, send a strong message to those in Congress who continue to block reasonable gun safety legislation. I pledge to personally deliver these appeals for real gun safety laws to Speaker Hastert's office this week. There are simply too many lives at stake not to act immediately.

"In just one year, New Yorkers experienced more than seventeen thousand crimes that included the use of a gun. That's seventeen thousand good reasons for federal gun safety legislation. While New York is one of a handful of states to close the gun show loophole, criminals in the state still have access to gun purchases at gun shows around the nation. Fully two-thirds of the guns used in crimes in New York State were traced to out-of-state purchases in 1999. Four out of the five states that supplied the most guns to criminals in New York do not require background checks at gun shows. The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms identifies gun shows and flea markets as the second leading source of firearms recovered in illegal gun trafficking investigations. Clearly, criminals are following the maxim that borders are made to be broken and we can only stop them by closing the gun show loophole nationwide.

"Why is it important to stop guns from getting into the hands of criminals in our state? Out of 927 murders that took place in New York State in 1998, guns were used in more cases than all other methods combined. In just one year, more than ten thousand robberies, six thousand assaults, and near two hundred rapes took place in our state by criminals who used guns in the crime. How many people must die, how many victims will endure these awful crimes, before we enact gun safety legislation that works.

"We know what works, we know what saves lives, and still many in Congress refuse to take action. In November 1993, the Brady Bill was signed into law. Before the law took effect, a felon could walk into a gun store, sign a form stating that he or she has never been convicted of a felony, and buy a gun. The criminal's felony record would not be discovered because the form would simply get filed away. Now, felons are denied guns routinely because of the background checks mandated by the Brady bill.

"From 1994 through 1999, over 22 million background checks took place as a result of the Brady Bill, resulting in 536,000 denials. Over 70% of denials occurred because the applicant was a felon or under felony indictment. The next most common reason for denial, about 13% of cases, was a domestic violence misdemeanor conviction or restraining order. Can anyone deny that the country is better off because thousands of felons and violent offenders were barred from gun purchases?

"The Center to Prevent Handgun Violence found that from 1994 through 1998 - after Brady - close to ten thousand fewer people died than expected because the percentage of robberies and assaults committed with firearms fell each year. Those who oppose Bradley argue that it is 'inconvenient' to potential gun purchasers, but the facts show that the a small 'inconvenience' can save thousands of lives. Furthermore, the inconvenience really is minuscule. According to the General Accounting Office, about 75% of background checks result in an immediate determination of eligibility within minutes. Of the remaining 25%, 80% are determined within 2 hours. That leaves 536,000 people denied for felony and/or violent crimes, and just 5 people out of 100 waiting a little longer for a gun.

"When it comes to background checks for gun purchases, I think the little bit of extra time is worth the lives saved.

"Given the success of the Brady Bill, I am completely mystified that so many of my colleagues in Congress refuse to support mandatory background checks for gun purchases at gun shows. Approximately 25% of gun dealers at gun shows are not required to conduct background checks. The gun show loophole is so big, that thousands of criminals who would be turned down at licensed gun stores, can simply go to a show and pick up the gun of their choice. The gun show loophole subverts the clear intent of the Brady law by allowing felons and abusers to purchase guns. That's wrong and we've got to change it. Background checks on gun purchases save lives, plain and simple. That's why we're here today, and it's why I'll fight for passage of this legislation until we succeed."

Also attending today's news conference were: Edie Smith, President, Manhattan Chapter of the Million Mom March Kathryn Gaffney, Secretary, Manhattan Chapter of the Million Mom March,numerous members of the Manhattan Chapter of the Million Mom March, Barbara Holt, President of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence and Katherine Falio, Physicians for Social Responsibility.