Dr. Stein Says Gun Violence Needs To Be Treated As National Public Health Emergency

Calls For National Background Checks & Assault Weapons Ban

October 5th, Lexington, Massachusetts

Presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein said today that the United States needs to take action to confront the national public health epidemic of gun violence.

“It is outrageous that politicians have refused to implement even small common sense steps such as comprehensive background checks for gun purchases due to fear of the NRA. How many more innocent people must be massacred before our elected officials take action to protect us?” asked Stein, who is running for president on the Green Party line.

Stein, a Harvard-educated physician, called for Congressional action to create a minimum national level of gun safety, with local communities and states empowered to enact measures as they see fit. “Local residents know best what steps are needed to protect the safety and well-being of their communities,” added Stein.

Specifically, Stein called for strengthening the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 requiring licensed firearm dealers to do background checks for handgun sales though the FBI’s NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check), and re-instituting waiting periods. She would also renew and strengthen the Assault Weapons (AW) Ban of 1994 banning some semiautomatic firearms and most ammunition feeding devices holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. This law lapsed in 2004.

Stein would also remove current prohibitions against using federal funding for science based solutions to gun violence. 

She noted, “Gun violence is a reflection of a much deeper illness in our society, an epidemic expressed in many forms – handgun killings in the inner city; violence against women, people of color and the LGBT community; militarized police; the resumption of the nuclear arms race; and the failed wars in the Middle East. This same violence is blowing back at us, making the world a dangerous and unlivable place.”

Stein summarized, “Against the growing chaos, we must re-affirm principles of human rights, civil liberties, democracy and justice. At the community level in particular, we need a deeper conversation to address the insecurity people rightly feel in today’s precarious world, and build solutions to these threats to our economy, ecology, peace and democracy.

With demagogues preaching hate, and the media fanning those flames, it’s no wonder fear is running rampant. In order to create secure communities, we must build trust, establish real democracy and enable people to feel safe enough to disarm,” said Stein.

Stein noted America’s mental health problems are woefully neglected, and in urgent need of supportive attention. But she cautioned against scapegoating mental illness as a major factor in gun violence. According to the American Psychiatric Association, most violence is not perpetrated by persons with serious mental disorders, accounting for only 4% to 5% of violence. Other factors — such as substance abuse, poverty, history of violence, and access to guns — are much stronger predictors of violence and shootings. Individuals with mental health problems are more likely to be victims of violence rather than perpetrators.

As the American Public Health Association notes, gun violence is a leading cause of premature death in the U.S. that we need to address urgently.

The rate of gun-related murders fell sharply in the 10 years after Connecticut implemented a law requiring people buying firearms to have a license. The 1995 permit-to-purchase handgun law required people who want to buy a gun to apply for a permit with the local police, a process that involves a background check, as well as complete at least eight hours of gun safety training.

Other countries such as Australia, United Kingdom and Finland strengthened gun control laws after mass killings and were able to dramatically reduce the rate of gun violence.

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