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| 921 11TH STREET Sacramento CA 95814-2845
Americans Against Gun Violence is headquartered in Sacramento, CA, and is a 501(c)(3) organization. EIN: 81-1741008. Donations are tax-deductible. The IRS' NTEE classification is Public, Society Benefit - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. within the Public, Society Benefit - Multipurpose and Other category. The IRS ruling year for tax exemption was 2016.
(Source: IRS Business Master File and Form 990)
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As long ago as 1968, the late Senator Thomas Dodd of Connecticut stated, "Pious condolences will no longer suffice. Quarter measures and half measures will no longer suffice. The time has now come that we must adopt stringent gun control legislation comparable to the legislation in force in virtually every civilized country of the world." Despite rising rates of gun violence in our country, though, prior to the founding of Americans Against Gun Violence in 2016, there was no other national organization that openly advocated adoption of the type of stringent gun control regulations that Senator Dodd called for almost 50 years ago. We at Americans Against Violence believe that we have not only the ability, but also the moral responsibility to reduce rates of gun violence in the USA to levels comparable to other high income democratic countries, and that in order to do so, we must adopt comparable gun control laws, including stringent regulation, if not complete bans, on civilian ownership of handguns and all automatic and semi-automatic rifles. Such laws need not prevent responsible hunters and target shooters from practicing their sports with traditional sporting rifles and shotguns. In order to stringently regulate or ban handguns, however, the Supreme Court's radical reinterpretation of the Second Amendment in the 2008 Heller decision must be overturned. We further believe that stringent regulation of civilian firearm ownership should be accompanied by stringent regulation of the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers. In addition to educating the American people regarding the need for the adoption of definitive gun control laws, it is our mission to debunk the myths promoted by the gun industry and its associated lobby, including the myth that honest, law-abiding people should own or carry guns “for protection" (there is abundant evidence that guns are much more likely to be used to kill or injure innocent, law-abiding people than to protect them); the myth that the Second Amendment was intended to confer an individual right to own guns (the Supreme Court ruled unequivocally in Miller in 1939 and reiterated in Lewis in 1980 that the Second Amendment "right to bear arms" is a collective right of the people of the states to maintain armed, "well regulated militias" such as the current National Guard, not an individual right to own guns); and, the most insidious myth of all, that the gun lobby is more powerful than the rest of the American people. We are confident that one day the United States will adopt stringent gun control laws comparable to the laws already in place in every other economically advanced democratic country of the world. The only question is how many more innocent Americans will be killed and injured by preventable gunshot wounds before that day arrives. It is our mission to work to make that day come sooner rather than later.
Our strategy for reducing rates of gun violence in the United States to levels that are comparable to the rates in other high income democratic countries is two-pronged. One component is education. We're working at the grass roots level to inform the American public and elected officials concerning the seriousness of the gun violence problem in our country; the reasons why rates of gun violence in United States are so much higher in the United States than in all other high income democratic countries of the world; the definitive steps that must be taken in order to reduce rates of gun violence in our country to levels comparable to the rates in other high income democratic countries; and the obstacles that must be overcome in order to take these steps. In addition to the obstacles to the enactment of stringent gun control laws noted in the section on our goals, other obstacles to the enactment of definitive gun control laws include the myth that we owe our democratic freedoms to a highly armed citizenry (in fact, the American Revolution was won by a professional army equipped mainly with guns imported from Europe after the Revolution began); the myth that we can substantially reduce rates of gun violence in the United States without significantly reducing the vast pool of guns already in circulation (there is a direct relationship between rates of gun ownership and rates of gun violence); and the myth that more research is needed before we enact definitive gun control laws (more research, in the absence of definitive gun control laws, is only going to document more preventable gun related deaths and injuries.) We're pursuing the educational component of our organizational strategy through postings on our website; regular messages to subscribers to our newsletter; related postings on social media; presentations to interested groups; networking with other gun violence prevention organization; hosting of our own events and participation in events hosted by other organizations; dissemination of printed materials; earned media, including press releases, interviews with radio, TV, and print journalists, and op-eds; and other individual person to person contacts. The second component of our organizational strategy is grassroots legislative advocacy. We don't employ paid lobbyists. Members of our volunteer Board of Directors meet regularly, though, with elected leaders and their staff. We also seek to empower our general members with the knowledge and confidence they need to become effective advocates themselves. We support incremental steps, such as expanding background checks, to reducing gun violence. At the same time, we advocate the adoption of definitive gun control laws comparable to the laws in other high income democratic countries, and we impart an expectation of our elected leaders that they will join us in openly advocating and doing everything within their power to enact these same kinds of stringent gun control laws.
As a grassroots organization, the capability of Americans Against Gun Violence to accomplish our mission is directly related to the number of active members in our organization and the passion and commitment that we all demonstrate. We are beginning with a very passionate and committed nucleus. Our president and co-founder, Dr. Bill Durston, has both great credibility and a wealth of experience on the gun violence issue. He is a former expert marksman in the U.S. Marine Corps and a combat veteran, decorated for courage under fire during the Vietnam War. After his military service, he became an emergency physician. He has treated innumerable civilian gunshot victims during his career. He became active in gun violence prevention when he learned that every two years in the United States, more U.S. civilians are killed by guns than all the U.S. soldiers killed in the entire 11 year Vietnam War. Dr. Durston has served as the Injury Prevention Chairperson and a member of the Board of Directors of the California Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians. He has also worked on the gun violence issue as the co-founder and immediate past president of the Sacramento Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility. Dr. Durston has helped craft gun violence prevention legislation and has provided expert testimony on multiple occasions before committees of the California Legislature. All of the members of the Americans Against Gun Violence Board of Directors, including Dr. Durston, have extensive experience in grass roots organizing. They all serve on an unpaid, volunteer basis, driven by their shared passion to stop the epidemic of gun violence that afflicts our country. Americans Against Gun Violence is currently the only national gun violence prevention organization in the United States that openly advocates the adoption of stringent gun control regulations in our country comparable to the regulations that have long been in effect in every other high income democratic country of the world – countries in which mass shootings are rare or non-existent and in which overall rates of gun violence are much lower than in the USA. Americans Against Gun Violence has the capability of becoming the nation's largest and most influential gun violence prevention organization and of shifting the gun control debate from the current center point that has been appropriately described by Joshua Sugarmann, Executive Director of the Violence Policy Center, as “nibbling around the edges of half solutions and good intentions dramatically out of sync with the reality of gun violence in America," to a serious discussion about adopting stringent gun control laws comparable to the laws in every other high income democratic country of the world. Through growth of it membership and grassroots advocacy, America Against Gun Violence also has the capability of becoming more powerful than the gun lobby and of actually getting definitive gun control laws enacted.
Progress indicators are listed below, from most definitive to least definitive. The most definitive measure of our progress will be declining rates of firearm related deaths and injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports these rates on an annual basis, although the reports typically lag 1-2 years behind the current year. The next most definitive measure of our progress will be the types of state and federal gun control laws that are adopted. Laws such as H.R.38, recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, providing that a concealed weapons permit issued in one state is valid in every other state, would be an indicator that our country is moving in the wrong direction. The passage of laws to expand background checks and to restrict ownership of handguns and automatic and semi-automatic rifles would be an indicator of progress. Passage of stringent gun controls laws comparable to those in other high income democratic countries that completely ban civilian ownership of handguns and all automatic and semi-automatic rifles would be a sign of great progress and would inevitably be followed by dramatic drops in rates of gun violence. The next most definitive measure of our progress will be shifts in public opinion, as indicated by Gallup polls and other similar surveys. In recent years, the trend has been in the wrong direction. For example, a 1959 Gallup poll showed that 60% of Americans supported a ban of civilian handgun ownership, whereas in 2011, only 26% supported such a ban. Similarly, a 1993 Gallup poll showed that 42% of Americans mistakenly believed that a gun in the home made residents safer. By 2014, the percentage of Americans holding this mistaken belief had risen to 63%. A reversal of such trends would be an indication that we are making progress toward our goal of reducing gun violence. The most immediate indicator of our progress will be the growth in our membership and in donations. Through growth in membership and donations, we will be able to continue to expand our infrastructure and build toward a critical mass of grassroots advocates.
We founded Americans Against Gun Violence in March of 2016. We received our IRS determination letter granting us 501(c)(3) non-profit status in June of 2016, within days of the Pulse nightclub mass shooting, and we opened the organization for general membership shortly afterward. Our initial outreach efforts included person to person contact, messaging via our website and listserv, making presentations to interested groups, and networking with other gun violence prevention organizations at the state, national, and international level. The importance of the emergence of Americans Against Gun Violence in changing the terms of the US gun control debate was acknowledged in a welcoming statement written for our website by Rebecca Peters, founder of the International Action Network on Small Arms and recipient of the Australian Human Rights Medal for the key role she played in getting definitive gun control legislation enacted in Australia following the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre. In 2017, we more than doubled our membership and donations received. We improved the functionality and expanded the content of our website, including adding references to many of the website postings that meet the highest standards of academic rigor. We also expanded our outreach via social media. We continued to network with other gun violence prevention organizations through regular conference calls and in person meetings. We engaged in grassroots legislative advocacy, including supporting a successful bill to completely ban concealed weapons in California schools. We actively pursued earned media coverage, and our president, Dr. Durston, was interviewed on television and quoted in news articles on numerous occasions. In October, we hosted our first annual dinner in Sacramento, California featuring a keynote address by Joshua Sugarmann, Executive Director of the Violence Policy Center, on the topic, “Gun Violence in America: A Preventable Epidemic." In his address, Mr. Sugarmann applauded Americans Against Gun Violence for advocating definitive gun control measures well beyond the limited firearm regulations advocated by most other gun violence prevention groups. Our goal for 2018 is to continue to build membership, capacity, and outreach through a continuation and expansion of the activities described for 2016 and 2017. In particular, we aim to continue our exponential growth in membership and funding. Through this growth, we intend to make the American public and our elected leaders increasingly aware of the fact that the main reasons for the extraordinarily high rates of gun violence in the United States as compared with all other high income democratic nations are our lax gun control laws and high rates of gun ownership; that there is an urgent need to adopt stringent gun control laws comparable to the laws in all other democratic countries; and that to stall any further in adopting such laws is both dangerous and morally indefensible.
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