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Gun Safety Focus of Charleston "March for Our Lives" Rally

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Friday, June 10, 2022   

West Virginians concerned about gun violence are rallying this weekend to put pressure on lawmakers to pass gun-safety measures in the wake of mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas; Buffalo, New York; and elsewhere. The rally is at noon Saturday at the State Capitol.

The U.S. House passed a bill Thursday to nationalize "red flag" laws, allowing a court to temporarily block a person deemed to be a danger to themselves or others from purchasing firearms.

Fred Albert, president of the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, said he has recently spoken with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and believes Manchin will take action on the issue.

"He definitely supports doing something that is going to help," Albert stated. "And what that something is? I guess they're debating that right now in Congress."

Earlier this week, the senator told CNN he would support raising the gun-purchasing age to 21.

The Giffords Law Center said West Virginia does not require residents to get a background check or a permit to carry a loaded, concealed gun in public.

In 2020, the Mountain State had the 14th-highest gun-death rate in the nation. Opponents of stricter gun-safety laws argued they penalize law-abiding gun owners and do not reduce violent crime.

Albert added teachers, students and parents across the country are grappling with unprecedented levels of trauma and grief. But he pointed out there are evidenced-based gun violence prevention practices and policies to help keep communities safe.

"We cannot continue down this path of what's happening in our schools, in our grocery stores, in our churches, in our hospitals," Albert stressed. "Something has to be done."

A 2019 study in the Journal of Rural Health found states implementing background checks for all gun sales saw death rates 15% lower than states without background-check laws. It also found state laws banning people convicted of violent crimes from owning guns meant an 18% reduction in homicides.

Disclosure: The American Federation of Teachers contributes to our fund for reporting on Education, Health Issues, Livable Wages/Working Families, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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