Friday, August 15, 2008

Open Democratic Platform Meeting

The message from the Obama campaign was exciting: Every four years, the Democratic Party assembles a platform that outlines the party's position on a number of issues. Traditionally, the drafting of the platform is not open to ordinary people. This year, that's going to change. For two weeks in July, people all across America will hold Platform Meetings in their own communities to discuss the issues and share their input. The outcome of these meetings will be reviewed by the Drafting Committee as it creates the final Platform.

Members of New England Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, States United to Prevent Gun Violence, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, Ceasefire New Jersey, Gun Free Kids, and Freedom States Alliance met to draft a Democratic Platform statement on gun violence prevention. We are extremely proud of our Platform statement and share it with you here.


The Democratic Party believes that all Americans have the right to be free from gun violence in our homes, schools, places of work and on the streets of our communities. Easy access to firearms by terrorists, felons, domestic violence offenders, violent teens, the mentally ill and many others who we all agree should not possess guns continues to put tens of thousands of Americans at risk every year for death or injury due to gun violence.

This significant ongoing threat to the safety of our communities across the country is due in part because more than 500,000 guns are sold or transferred each year without the simple and beneficial performance of background checks on the purchasers.

More than 30,000 Americans are killed each and every year with firearms. This is a staggering sum. In addition, guns wound and injure more than 70,000 citizens every year. Unregulated guns sold to unauthorized people are used daily to rob, intimidate, wound and kill law abiding Americans. It is the illegal trade in firearms that fuels the criminal market.

Without doubt, the devastation caused by gun violence and the illegal gun trade is a critical public health, safety, social and economic issue costing thousands of lives and billions of dollars every year. The Democratic Party can and must do more to prevent this tide of violence against law abiding Americans. Safe and secure barriers must be placed between firearms and terrorists, criminals and unlawful people who seek to possess guns.

The recent Supreme Court decision, District of Columbia v. Heller, supports this view and confirms that sensible regulation as to who may possess firearms, what kinds of guns may be possessed and other life-saving restrictions are acceptable under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The decision clearly states that, while the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm in the home for self-defense -- the right is not unlimited.

Maintaining our current patchwork of local, state and federal laws and regulations leaves too many loopholes for terrorists and criminals to exploit. These loopholes grant too many opportunities for guns to get into the wrong hands. We must work to ensure that only law abiding Americans possess weapons, and that terrorists and criminals cannot utilize the current lax and unregulated secondary sales market for weapons to get their hands on guns.

Nothing herein is intended to restrict the law abiding American who has passed a Brady background check from possessing a weapon if he/she wishes. Therefore, we resolve to:

- Strengthen the national Brady background check system to incorporate all necessary records including criminal, domestic violence, and mental health records from all 50 states and all territories.

- Institute a universal background check system to ensure that all gun sales in all 50 states and territories are subject to a Brady background check.

- Fully fund the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms so that it can conduct regular and frequent inspections of Federal Firearms Licensed Dealers to prevent unlawful sales.

- Require that all persons who sell guns of any kind through employment at a gun manufacturer or through a Federal Firearm Licensed Dealer pass a Brady background check.

- Strengthen programs designed to trace crime gun purchases to shut down unscrupulous dealers.

- Remove the Tiahrt restrictions on the ability of local law enforcement to access important gun trace information and give police officers across the nation the tools they need to solve gun crimes and fight the illegal arms trade.

- Institute a national ballistics program to initiate microstamping technology on all weapons manufactured or sold in the United States, so that crime guns and casings can be traced quickly to the original sale.

- Support manufacturers who voluntarily develop and sell childproof handguns.

- Strengthen and make permanent the federal Assault Weapons Ban and the ban on large capacity ammunition magazines and clips.