His career – and his family – repeatedly touched by the tragedy of gun violence, Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer refuses to back down. After nearly two decades in Congress calling for gun safety legislation, Representative Blumenauer has issued a new report today titled "Enough is Enough: A Comprehensive Plan to Improve Gun Safety."
The report, which has been a work in progress since the shooting at Reynolds High School in Troutdale, OR in June of 2014, represents a modern take on gun violence prevention policies that work. Blumenauer's report uses the examples of tobacco prevention and cessation legislation and automobile safety legislation to show that data-driven Federal safety policies can have a dramatic effect on public safety, and asserts that now is the time to treat gun violence with similar tactics.
The most striking part of the report is Blumenauer's frank discussion of his brother's suicide by gun. As firearm suicides surpass auto accident deaths in Oregon, and are on track do so nationwide, it is urgent that public health authorities have the data they need to formulate policies that will stop the epidemic and save lives. As Blumenauer's report points out, a common sense solution – a background check on the sale of every gun – is one of the most effective ways to curb firearm suicides, and it's a law that's already on the table in Oregon.
Background checks are the first of nine calls to action in the report – here's the full list:
Keep Guns from the Most Dangerous Users: The “private sale loophole” should be closed - no private sales should be conducted without background checks. Comprehensive and uniform background checks will help ensure that only law-abiding, responsible owners have access to guns. More restrictions should be in place to prevent individuals with a pattern of violent or abusive behavior from gun ownership.
Improve the Mental Health System: We have failed to create a system where people who are mentally ill can receive the treatment they need. Over 60% of all gun-related deaths are suicides and mental illness is a significant risk factor for suicide. Many deaths could be prevented if we developed a mental health system that is more accessible and available.
Authorize and Increase Research: Simply improving the ability of researchers and the federal government to study and share information about gun violence would allow us to fully understand the impact and implications of current policies. New approaches to reduce gun violence should be evidence-based; research that can be used to promote policies is the first step in achieving this goal.
Control Access to the Most Dangerous Products: Certain types of guns are not safe in any public space. Common sense restrictions on the most dangerous weapons can reduce the carnage that results from their use.
Increase Product Safety: Firearms are specifically excluded from regulation under the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Act. As inherently dangerous products, guns should be tested and regulated to ensure consistency and safety for the consumer. Products intended to keep children safe from guns and to prevent accidents are available and their use should be promoted if not required.
Empower Healthcare Professionals: Doctors are under increasing scrutiny and some may face disciplinary action for discussing guns with patients. Doctors should not only be able to discuss all matters that affect their patient’s health - they should be encouraged to do so.
Effectively Regulate Sellers: A small number of gun dealers provide a disproportionately large number of weapons to criminals. Congress should empower the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to take steps to ensure dealers are complying with federal law.
Enforcing Existing Laws: Enforcing existing laws is a struggle with the gun lobby actively working to subvert good policies by attacking budgets and undermining their effectiveness. While enacting new policies will be necessary to create safer communities, enforcing existing laws is an important part of the solution.
Mitigate Loss of Life in Shootings: First responders such aspolice and fire departments, ambulances, and emergency rooms must be able to respond where tragedy strikes. Schools and public facilities personnel should receive appropriate training to deal with active-shooter situations. These necessary components can reduce fatalities when gun violence occurs.
Watch this morning's press conference here: http://koin.com/2015/02/09/blumenauers-gun-plan-enough-is-enough/