In 2018, Project ChildSafe was recognized as one of three finalists for the National Safety Council’s 2018 Green Cross Award for Excellence in Safety. The program is supported by the U.S. Department of Justice.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicides account for nearly two-thirds of the gun deaths in America, representing 22,018 of the total 35,486 firearm-related deaths in 2015. There are many factors involved in suicide and suicide prevention, but the firearms industry wants to help educate our members on how they can help, and so we’re working closely with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and retailers across the country to take steps that will help keep guns away from people who may be at risk.
We’ve been working at the federal level and with state governments across the country to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (known as “NICS”). One of the biggest challenges to the NICS system has been the lack of adequate records and information to prevent gun sales to criminals or people with disqualifying mental health issues who cannot legally buy guns.
Getting more records in the system makes a difference and can help prevent tragedies. For example, had full records been in the system, the shooters involved in The Washington Navy Yard, Sutherland Springs, Texas and Virginia Tech tragedies would have been flagged and not been able to purchase a firearm. Our “FixNICS” efforts so far have helped strengthen background check laws in 16 states, generated a 241 percent increase in the number of disqualifying mental health records in the system, and elements of the program we created for the improvement of background checks are now federal law.
According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting statistics, homicides with firearms decreased 24 percent between 1991 and 2017, and Department of Justice data show other crimes with firearms decreased 70 percent between 1993 and 2017. What makes this even more noteworthy is that these decreases took place even as gun sales more than quintupled in the same time period.
One example of a gun regulation in place that actually needs better enforcement actually goes back to 1968 – the Gun Control Act itself, which created the categories of persons who are disqualified from gun ownership. Those prohibitions are implemented through the National Instant Criminal Background Check system (NICS), and the database upon which it relies is inadequate as a result of states not submitting the necessary records to the database. This is the reason why the gun industry is leading the charge to Fix NICS and reduce criminal violence.
We also strenuously support the law against “straw sales,” which occur when people who can legally buy guns do so for those who can’t. These crimes come with a 10-year jail sentence and a $250,000 fine. We implemented our “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy” program nearly 20 years ago in partnership with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to provide public and retailer education to help prevent these sales.