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Father Of Newtown Victim, Faith Leaders, And Law Enforcement Hold Rally In New Orleans To Voice Support For Common-Sense Background Checks That Help Save Lives

NEW ORLEANS, June 29, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The father of a Newtown victim, families of victims of gun violence, faith leaders, law enforcement officials, and other local advocates gathered at Duncan Plaza in New Orleans, Louisiana today as part of the "No More Names: National Drive to Reduce Gun Violence" – a 25-state national bus tour over a period of 100 days aimed at urging America's leaders to support common-sense gun policies. Participants voiced their continued support for common-sense background checks that help save lives, and they thanked U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu for backing this life-saving measure by voting for bipartisan background checks legislation sponsored by NRA A-rated Senator Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey.

Participants and attendees included: Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son Jesse Lewis was murdered with a gun in the Newtown mass shooting; Cinthia Finch, whose 14-year-old son Jermaine was murdered with a gun in New Orleans in 2003; Lt. Gregory Baker of St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff's Office; Bivian "Sonny" Lee of Son of a Saint Foundation; Deacon Elaine Climmont of St. Anna's Episcopal Church; and Reverend Dr. JC Dyson, a former New Orleans police officer.

This past April, Senator Landrieu stood with the 85 percent of Louisiana residents who support background checks and voted in favor of the Manchin-Toomey bill that would have closed dangerous loopholes that allow dangerous people to obtain firearms by requiring background checks for commercial gun sales. The legislation failed to become law, however, after a minority of senators voted to block the bill.

"Six months have passed since my son, Jesse, was murdered," said Neil Heslin, the father of 6-year-old Newtown victim Jesse Lewis . We owe it to him and to the memories of the 25 other victims to reform our gun laws, expand background checks, and keep weapons of war off our streets. I am committed to continuing to fight for sensible gun safety measures, and I won't rest until our elected officials act."

"It has been nearly 10 years since my son was murdered with a gun, and the pain and sorrow is still with me every day," said Cinthia Finch, whose 14 year-old son Jermaine was shot and killed in New Orleans in 2003. "In order to prevent gun violence from claiming more innocent lives, it's imperative that our leaders in Washington support background checks to help keep guns out of the wrong hands. I thank Senator Landrieu for being a leader and recognizing what the people of Louisiana demand and deserve – it's time for her colleagues to follow suit."

"The damages caused by all incidents of gun violence are excruciating, lasting, and all-too-frequent among young people in our communities," said Deacon Elaine Climmont. "Our elected leaders must take a stand to fight the horrors brought about by dangerous loopholes in our current gun laws. Lives are at stake, and it's past time that Congress takes decisive action to stem the bloodshed."

Rates of gun violence in Louisiana are among the highest in the country: In 2011, Louisiana's rate of aggravated assault with firearms was 96 percent higher than the national average, and 116 percent more than in states that require background checks for private handgun sales[1]; in 2010, the rate of women shot to death by intimate partners in Louisiana was 68 percent higher than the national average, and 118 percent more than in states that require background checks for all private handgun sales[2]; and the number of police officers killed with handguns in the state was triple the national rate and more than four times the rate in states that require background checks for private handgun sales.[3]

The No More Names tour will provide an opportunity for the more than 90 percent of Americans who support background checks to drive home a message to our elected officials that our country needs common-sense gun laws. At each stop, participants will hold rallies with a broad coalition of supporters – including police, survivors, domestic violence prevention advocates, mayors, and other elected officials – to commemorate those we've lost and call on our leaders to stand with the American people on sensible gun policies. They will both applaud senators who voted to support comprehensive and enforceable background checks, and urge those who opposed this measure to take a second look.

States on the tour include: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin. For more information, please visit

Evidence demonstrates that background checks help save lives. In states that already require background checks for all handgun sales:
  • Gun trafficking was 48 percent lower than in states that fail to require background checks for all handgun sales.[4]
  • The rate of women murdered by an intimate partner with a gun was 38 percent lower than in other states, while the rate murdered by other means was nearly identical.[5]
  • The firearm suicide rate was 49 percent lower than in other states, even though people committed suicide in other ways at almost precisely the same rate.[6]
  • Thirty-nine percent fewer law enforcement officers were shot to death with handguns.[7]

About Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Since its creation in April 2006, Mayors Against Illegal Guns has grown from 15 members to more than 950 mayors from across the country. We have more than 1.5 million grassroots supporters, making us the largest gun violence prevention advocacy organization in the country. The bipartisan coalition, co-chaired by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, has united the nation's mayors around these common goals: protecting communities by holding gun offenders accountable; demanding access to crime gun trace data that is critical to law enforcement efforts to combat gun trafficking; and working with legislators to fix weaknesses and loopholes in the law that make it far too easy for criminals and other dangerous people to get guns.  Learn more at

[1] Federal Bureau of Investigation. Uniform Crime Reports. 2011. Available at:

[2] U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Supplementary Homicide Reports, 2011. Available at Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Supplementary Homicide Report. 2010. Excludes New York due to incomplete data.

[3] Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2001-2011. Law enforcement killed with handguns that were not their own.

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