Sunday, September 25, 2022

Gun safety advocates connect lax gun laws to the fever-pitch violence in Little Rock this weekend


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Guns are costing lives, dollars and futures in Arkansas, and advocates for gun safety spoke up after this particularly violent weekend in Little Rock to call out the elected officials unwilling to do anything about it.

People in and around Little Rock endured a stressful and dangerous weekend, with Little Rock Police, Arkansas State Police and the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department responding to 15 shootings in 26 hours. That number is up from the 14 we reported earlier today, after Little Rock Police Sergeant Eric Barnes teased through the reports from all three agencies.

“Out of the 15 incidents, LRPD is investigating 9, Arkansas State Police are investigating 4, and the Pulaski County Sheriff’s office is investigating 2,” Barnes said.

Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, national groups with lively Arkansas chapters, are drawing attention to the link between this weekend’s shooting sprees and Arkansas’s freewheeling laws that allow guns for practically anyone, anywhere, anytime. Our state is in the top 10 for gun deaths, largely because our gun laws are among the top 10 friendliest for people looking to shoot somebody.

The statement, released jointly from Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action and their umbrella organization Everytown for Gun Safety, urges lawmakers to turn the tide.

The painful reality in Arkansas is this: weak gun laws are costing Arkansans their lives. Research shows that states with weak gun laws have higher rates of gun violence, and Arkansas scores only 5 out of 100 for gun law strength. Despite the fact that Arkansas has the 8th-highest rate of gun deaths in the US, state lawmakers are still actively working to weaken the state’s already sparse gun laws. Last week, the Arkansas Legislature reconvened in Little Rock for a special session but took no meaningful action on gun safety. This inaction could prove costly, as families and communities continue to be deeply impacted by gun violence in its many forms.

Following the tragic shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, gun violence survivors and gun safety advocates with Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action held lawmakers accountable and demanded action on gun safety, culminating in the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act — the first federal legislation on gun safety in nearly three decades. Arkansas lawmakers should take a cue from federal lawmakers and work across the aisle to pass common sense gun safety legislation to keep Arkansans safe.

In an average year, 596 people are killed by guns in Arkansas, and 823 more are wounded. Guns are the leading cause of death for children and teens in the state. Gun violence costs Arkansas $8.2 billion each year, of which $181.4 million is paid by taxpayers. More information on gun violence in Arkansas is available here.


Moms Demand Action (disclaimer: I am a long-time supporter and volunteer) is one of many gun violence prevention groups that have pushed for years for Arkansas lawmakers to rein in our states bad and worsening rates of gun violence. So far, the pro-gun Republican supermajority in Arkansas’s legislature, along with our NRA-aligned governor, seem to take glee in doing the opposite. They’ve loosened gun regulations and pushed the thoroughly debunked and deadly idea that more guns are the solution to our gun problem. So it’s no wonder Arkansas saw a 40% increase in gun deaths since 2011, higher than the 33% increase nationwide.


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