REALIZE FEWER LIVES LOST TO GUN VIOLENCE BY ADVOCATING AND EXECUTING RESPONSIBLE GUN OWNERSHIP
OUR GUIDING PRINCIPLES
PARTNERSHIP: Bipartisan action is the only path to real change.
INCREMENTAL WINS: With stalemates all too common, we will not let perfect prevent good.
EQUALITY: All lives lost to gun violence are valuable.
COMPASSION: We will shine a light on the deficiencies of our mental health infrastructure and meet mental illness with kindness.
INFORMATION: Data sourced from thorough and unbiased research will guide our decisions.
OUR STRATEGIC PRIORITIES
IMPLEMENT ON PROVEN SUICIDE PREVENTION SOLUTIONS
More than 47,000 people lost their lives to suicide in 2017, and almost 50% of the victims had a known mental health condition. Of those 47,000 deaths, 51% are attributed to firearms.*
What can we do to address this problem? The Harvard School of Public Health has focused on “means reduction” in an attempt to prevent suicide deaths. A number of their studies have indicated that when lethal means are made less available or less deadly, suicide rates by that method decline, and frequently suicide rates overall decline.
We can do better. Whitney/Strong will support and implement two proven programs aimed at reducing access to lethal means, specifically firearms, in an effort to decrease the rates of suicide death by firearm. Initial rollout will occur in Kentucky, as neither program has a presence in this state. Whitney/Strong will also look to increase program participation in Illinois, Missouri and Ohio where partnerships already exist. The two programs are:
COUNSELING ACCESS TO LETHAL MEANS (CALM) is a course focused on how to reduce access to the methods people use to kill themselves, with a heavy concentration on firearms. This course is intended for mental health professionals. We will work with the founder of CALM, Elaine Frank, to increase program participation by recruiting new hospitals and universities.
THE GUN SHOP PROJECT (GSP) was founded in New Hampshire in 2006. GSP distributes suicide prevention educational materials to gun shops, along with providing guidelines to avoid selling firearms to suicidal customers. The intent is that a suicidal customer will see the suicide hotline or educational materials when attempting to purchase a gun, giving them pause and perhaps preventing that suicide.
*According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention **According to the Center for Disease Control ***Pew Research Center 2018 study
ENFORCE THE LAWS THAT EXIST
We demand that the firearm laws created to protect us are effectively enforced. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is supposed to be one of the fail safes that prevents the transfer of a firearm to prohibited persons.
Under current NICS law, one category of prohibited person is defined as: A person adjudicated mentally defective or involuntarily committed to a mental institute or incompetent to handle own affairs, including dispositions to criminal charges of found not guilty by reason of insanity or found incompetent to stand trial.
This category of people is not permitted access to firearms under current law. But according to the Miami-Herald in 2018, only one of the 67 counties in Florida is complying with the federal law in this particular category. Reasons behind non-compliance range from lack of funding and HIPAA concerns to breakdown of manual processes. And the problem is not just isolated to Florida— in a 2016 report to Congress, the FBI said many states remain confused about how to report mental health records.
We can do better. Whitney/Strong will partner with interested parties to leverage all tools, ranging from investigation to litigation, to ensure this category of prohibited persons are unable to purchase firearms.
CHAMPION NEW LAWS AND FUNDING
Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) laws allow family or household members, in addition to law enforcement officers, to petition a court to keep guns away from a dangerous person in the throes of a crisis. Fourteen states have some version of an ERPO law; Kentucky does not.
In April of 2018, Ruth Ann Weber Perkins, a Kentucky native, lost her life to gun violence at the hands of her son. Concerned that he would become violent, Ruth requested a mental inquest, but was denied. Without assistance from the court, she made the compassionate decision to provide temporary shelter for her troubled son. That decision cost Ruth her life.
We can do better. Ruth’s request should not have been ignored, and ERPO laws could have helped. These laws provide a clear path for separating dangerous individuals from their firearms. And, ERPO laws are already saving lives. Per the U.S. News and World Report, of more than 300 protective orders in the first three months since the law took effect in Maryland, five of them were school related threats, and four of those were “significant threats.”
With the support of Whitney/Strong and Ruth’s daughter, Kirsten Russell, we will launch a legislative campaign to bring ERPO laws to Kentucky and Ohio.
There is no single reason why these senseless shootings keep happening. We have developed a 2019/2020 solutions roadmap that will tackle gun violence from multiple angles. Please join with Whitney/Strong to fight gun violence by making a donation.
Please join with Whitney/Strong today by making a donation. Together we’ll be working with politicians to drive conversations related to gun violence as well as gathering data and leveraging findings to drive education, advocacy, and solutions. We can prevent these situations from happening and I’m excited to take advantage of my second chance in life to make a meaningful difference. I can’t do it alone… but we can do it together.