A group, joined by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis), gathered Thursday near Memphis City Hall to demand “common sense” gun laws.
The Tennessee Chapter of Moms Demand Action’s volunteer leader Kat McRitchie said gun violence in the country is an ”epidemic.”
“Within one generation, gun violence had shifted from an abstract possibility to a daily reality for children in America, and I decided enough was enough,” McRitchie said. ”I had to be a part of the solution.”
Gun violence is a public health crisis that requires “urgent action to stop it,” McRitchie said, calling for Congress to take action by passing background check and red flag laws.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which would “utilize the current background checks process in the United States to ensure individuals prohibited from gun possession are not able to obtain firearms.”
However, the U.S. Senate, McRitchie said, continues to do “absolutely nothing to address gun violence.”
“That’s why we are here today, to call on the U.S. Senate to do its job to reduce gun violence, beginning with passing legislation to require background checks on all gun sales and also to enact a strong red flag law,” McRitchie said. “It is unacceptable to make public statements after high-profile shootings while refusing to pass legislation that could prevent them.”
McRitchie believes that requiring background checks for all gun sales is “one of the most efficient tools to keep guns out of the wrong hands.” She said there are currently loopholes in the system that allow “people who shouldn’t acquire guns.”
The red flag law that the group is calling for would allow law enforcement to ask the court to temporarily suspend a person’s access to guns if there is evidence showing that person poses a threat to themselves or others.
“These are proven policies that help save lives,” McRitchie said.
Cohen said the House of Representatives has “done its job and continues to do its job.” He also called on the Senate to pass background check and red flag laws. Cohen said the country needs “reasonable and responsible gun bills to protect people.”
“The Republican party is a hostage of the NRA,” Cohen said. “President [Donald] Trump is a hostage of the NRA. The NRA does not care about people's safety. It cares about making money and selling guns and selling bullets. They care about raising money and spending it in ways that we’ve seen are not appropriate.”
Cohen said it’s important to keep pressure on the Senate so that the lawmakers will set a date to hear the legislation and “put the voice of the American people into action and save lives.”
Specifically, Cohen called on Tennesseans to reach out to Sen. Lamar Alexander who he said is a “prime person who might be receptive to this message.”
Every day in the United States 100 people die by gun fire, according to the nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety.
There were 27 active shooting events, resulting in 18 deaths, in the country last year, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) reports. The FBI defines an active shooter event as “one or more individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.”
There were 337 mass shootings in 2018 and have been 326 so far in 2019, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The research and data collection organization, which gathers data from news reports, police records, and other sources, defines a mass shooting as a single incident in which four or more people, excluding the shooter, are injured or killed.
The archive reports that so far this year there have been 30,313 total deaths related to gun violence. This includes unintentional shootings, homicides, and suicides.