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NAACP Continues to Support Laws to Prevent Gun Violence and Increase Gun Safety Nationwide

WHEREAS, on June 26, 2008, the United States Supreme Court, in the District of Columbia v. Heller case, in a 5-4 decision held that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution allows an individual's right to possess a firearm for private use to supersede the power of local communities to effectively regulate the purchase and ownership of guns; and

WHEREAS, it was the first Supreme Court case in United States history to address directly whether the right to keep and bear arms is a right of individuals or a collective right that applies only to state-regulated militias; and

WHEREAS, in doing so, the United States Supreme court struck down a longstanding law that had helped to curb gun violence in the District of Columbia since 1976 ; and

WHEREAS, it remains much too easy for dangerous people or even people with a diminished mental capacity to obtain lethal weapons in this country and we must solve that problem; and

WHEREAS, there are many well-founded concerns that the Heller decision may embolden criminal defendants and gun lobby interests to file legal attacks on existing gun laws, despite language in the ruling indicating that reasonable restrictions on guns are allowed; and

WHEREAS, since the Heller decision, lawsuits have been filed challenging handgun restrictions and re-registration laws in Chicago, Evanston, Oak Park and Morton Grove (all in Illinois); and

WHEREAS, in San Francisco, a lawsuit has been filed challenging a local ordinance and lease provisions that prohibit possession of guns by residents of public housing; and

WHEREAS, some town councils have already indicated that they intend to repeal their bans quickly and are looking for model ordinances to replace the ban; and

WHEREAS, the NAACP has a long and consistent policy in support of initiatives to end the destruction and devastation resulting from gun violence; and

WHEREAS, there are currently almost over 200 million privately owned firearms in the United States; and

WHEREAS, it is still much too easy for people with destructive motives or diminished mental capacity to obtain guns, either through legal or illegal means; and

WHEREAS, gun violence continues to have a disparate impact on African American communities; although African Americans make up about 13% of the US population, 54% of all gun homicides are African Americans; and

WHEREAS, gun violence also comes with a very high fiscal cost to the taxpayers of the United States; and

WHEREAS, the average total cost of one gun crime often exceed $1.1 million, including medical treatment and the prosecution and imprisonment of the shooter; and

WHEREAS, medical costs of gun violence put a terrible burden on health service providers and governments. When indirect costs of gun violence - loss of productivity, mental health treatment and rehabilitation, legal and judicial costs - are figured in, gun violence costs the US over $100 billion annually; and

WHEREAS, the assault weapons ban, which was signed into law in 1994, was allowed to expire in September 2004; and

WHEREAS, as a result of inaction by the US House of Representatives and the President, assault weapons are again flooding our streets and neighborhoods and are being used to inflict the maximum amount of damage to lives and property with a minimal amount of energy on the part of the criminal; and

WHEREAS, the 1994 law prohibits the manufacture, sale and importation of new military-style semi-automatic assault weapons and rapid-fire ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP continues to support safe, sane and sensible gun safety legislative initiatives which would make it harder for people with questionable motives and/or diminished mental capacity to obtain firearms, either through legal or illegal methods; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP supports a renewal of the assault weapons ban, with a provision that makes it permanent.