Nearly 150 CEOs call on Senate to pass gun safety bills

By Keya Vakil

September 12, 2019

The chief executives of 145 of America’s biggest companies are calling on the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate to expand background checks to cover all gun sales and implement tougher “red flag” laws.

In a letter addressed to the Senate, the CEOs of companies such as Uber, Bain Capital, Levi Strauss, and Airbnb wrote that that “Doing nothing about America’s gun violence crisis is simply unacceptable and it is time to stand with the American public on gun safety.” 

The letter comes just weeks after a spate of deadly mass shootings shook the nation and only three months after Virginia Beach was rocked by its own mass shooting that left 12 innocent people dead.

In the months since, Republicans at both the state and federal level have blocked gun safety legislation, including the universal background check and red flag bills recommended by the CEOs.

The CEOs said it was their responsibility to stand up for the safety of their employees, customers and all Americans from gun violence. “Gun violence in America is not inevitable; it’s preventable. There are steps Congress can, and must, take to prevent and reduce gun violence. We need our lawmakers to support common sense gun laws that could prevent tragedies like these,” the letter reads. 

The letter urges the Senate to take up legislation that has already been introduced in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, citing bills that would require background checks on all gun sales and create stronger red flag laws, which the CEOs said are “proven to save lives.” 

Currently, background checks do not cover private sales, online sales, or gun-show transactions, meaning a significant percentage of gun buyers never go through a background check. 

While exact numbers are hard to come by, a 2017 study from Harvard and Northeastern universities found that one in five American gun owners purchased their firearm without undergoing a background check. 

Expanding background checks is a universally popular idea, the CEOs said, and the numbers bear that out. A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found 89% of Americans, including four out of five Republicans, support expanding federal background checks to cover private transactions and gun-show sales.

The Democratic House passed universal background check legislation in February, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) has refused to hold a vote on the bill.

The CEOs also highlighted the overwhelming public support for “red flag” laws, also known as Extreme Risk laws, which allow law enforcement to intervene and take guns from people judged to be a danger to themselves or others.

The same Washington Post-ABC News poll found 86% of Americans, including 85% of Republicans, support implementing “red flag” laws.

Democrats have been working to enact red flag legislation, and on Tuesday night, the House Judiciary Committee overcame Republican opposition and passed a bill to adopt national red flag laws. The bill is now being prepared for a vote before the full House.

If the bill passes the House, it would then go to the Senate, where it would live or die by the hand of Mitch McConnell.

More than 8 in 10 Americans want these bills passed, and 145 of America’s CEOs made their position clear, too. 

“These proposals are common-sense, bipartisan and widely supported by the American public,” they wrote. “It is time for the Senate to take action.”

  • Keya Vakil

    Keya Vakil is the deputy political editor at COURIER. He previously worked as a researcher in the film industry and dabbled in the political world.

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