WASHINGTON --- God Bless America. On the eve of the Fourth of July, as Americans reflect on the history of the nation’s founding and contemplate its future, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has released the latest edition of its God Bless America poster, documenting that, in one year, guns murdered 17 people in Finland, 35 in Australia, 39 in England and Wales, 60 in Spain, 194 in Germany, 200 in Canada, and 9,484 in the United States.
When compared by gun murders relative to population size, the facts hold true: Citizens of the U.S. are murdered with guns at a rate five times higher than our nearest high-income neighbor, Canada, and at rates 10 to 44 times higher than the other high income nations.
This holiday weekend marks the 11th anniversary of a tragedy that could have been avoided. On the Fourth of July weekend in 1999, white supremacist and anti-Semite Benjamin Smith murdered Northwestern University head basketball coach Ricky Birdsong and Indiana University graduate student Wan Joon Yoon, and wounded nine others before committing suicide. Smith was prohibited from purchasing firearms, and would have been stopped by a Brady background check if the nation required the checks on every gun sale. He bought his “Saturday Night Special” handgun from Donald Fiessinger, a “private seller” who had purchased 65 handguns over two years from the same Pekin, Illinois gun store, the Old Prairie Trading Post.
The store remains open, but no longer sells firearms. The owner and his customer, Fiessinger, were indicted on gun trafficking charges, pled guilty and served jail time.
“We make it too easy for dangerous people, like Benjamim Smith, to get dangerous guns,” said Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Center.
“And we haven’t closed the loophole that allowed this to happen 11 years later - the loophole that says if you buy a gun from a private seller, you don’t have to pass a background check.”
Background information about the statistics, sourcing data, and copies of the poster can be printed here:
The Brady Center believes that the U.S. Congress should extend Brady criminal background checks to all gun sales, particularly those at gun shows. On this July 4th, its leaders call on elected officials in Congress to pass gun show loophole legislation (S. 843 in the U.S. Senate and H.R. 2324 in the U.S. House.)