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Tue Apr 25, 2017

In Boston, GBIO Fights Back Against Discrimination -GBIO

At Greater Boston Interfaith Organization’s April 4 Delegates Assembly, over 175 leaders unanimously ratified GBIO’s new campaign: Out of Many, One, designed to fight the targeting of Muslims, Jews, Immigrants, and other minority communities. Those attending committed to bringing over 900 people to GBIO’s May action.

The goals of the Out of Many, One campaign are (1) to support the Safe Communities Act, which protects Massachusetts residents’ civil rights by making sure our tax dollars are not used to deport immigrant families or create a Muslim registry, and (2) to support the Muslim community through a series of Teach-Ins at Muslim, Christian, and Jewish congregations throughout Greater Boston. At these Teach-Ins, participants will share and listen to stories about the specific threats facing the Muslim community, and will learn what MA residents can do to support their Muslim neighbors.

GBIO also sent a delegation of 12 leaders to attend the Metro IAF March 2017 key leaders meeting held in Baltimore to further address fighting discrimination as a larger Metro IAF collective.

Tue Apr 25, 2017

BUILD: Baltimore Youth Hold Mayor Accountable -BUILD

Founded by BUILD and NO Boundaries Coalition, the Baltimore Youth Organizing Project (BYOP) turned out 150 youth and accompanying adults to a Mayoral Accountability action to hold Mayor Catherine Pugh accountable to her campaign promises of 1000 year-round jobs for youth, fully funding recreation centers & community schools, and school funding.  The youth demanded – and got – recognition from the Mayor. Because of the disciplined and persistent pressure from youth, the Mayor committed to work with BYOP on the BUILD One Baltimore agenda and to continue to build a relationship between the Mayor and BUILD/BYOP.

Tue Apr 25, 2017

United Power for Action & Justice: 150 Leaders Trained in Chicago Metropolitan Area -UPAJ

During the last two weekends in February, United Power trained 150 leaders in four organizing workshops to help new and existing leaders assess the current political moment and learn from organizing strategies of United Power and other IAF affiliates. Leaders used these lessons as they developed organizing and action strategies for different regions of Cook County in March & April.

Tue Apr 25, 2017

East Brooklyn Congregations: Leaders Demand Safety, Housing Repairs from NYCHA and Transportation Commissioner -DNA Info

When Brooklyn Director and his managers refused to meet with 200 NYCHA tenants from four developments because the Director’s office could not afford the one hour of overtime, residents decided to act. The action from the Director’s office demonstrated an obvious lack of respect for their tenants. Thus ensued four days of action by EBC and tenants to confront NYCHA managers.  EBC sent a delegation to the Hope Gardens development office to confront the manager for not showing-up. Fr. Hoffman led a group of 25 people, and again, the manager refused to meet with them.

The group conducted a phone bank in the lobby with tenants calling 25 executives and managers from NYCHA, starting with the Chairwoman, and asked the managers to fix the intercom at 120 Menahan Street. EBC ran this action in response to recently posted letters instructing tenants to "call-in" about an intercom that had been broken for over a decade. The logic was that if managers wanted tenants to call rather than meet face to face, that's exactly what EBC would do.

The manager eventually emerged and was furious at the scene. He and his superior offered to take individual complaints, but the group refused to be bought off.

EBC also confronted the Transportation Commissioner, Polly Trottenberg. More than 225 leaders and students from 14 institutions, including a large contingent from Epiphany Lutheran School, came out to force Trottenberg to publicly commit to meet with EBC on Thursday, May 4th.  During that meeting, EBC will continue to build a better relationship and begin to get commitments for much needed speed bumps, traffic lamps and street lamps.  

Overall, within four days, 500 leaders took action on NYCHA, transportation and sanitation.

Tue Apr 25, 2017

Common Ground: Training Offered in Spanish for Latino Leaders in Milwaukee -Common Ground

Organizers from Common Ground and sister Metro IAF affiliate in North Carolina, Durham CAN, trained 35 Latino leaders in Spanish at St. Adalbert’s, the largest Latino Catholic church in the state. The 35 leaders committed to turn out 300 people to Common Ground’s upcoming Delegates Assembly to increase the power needed to secure a meeting with the Chief of Police.

Tue Apr 25, 2017

Manhattan Together & South Bronx Churches: Fighting for a Better Special Education Data System in NYC -MT & SBC

On March 19th, over 400 Manhattan Together (MT) and South Bronx Churches (SBC) leaders gathered with New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer to push the City Government for action to improve their broken Special Education data system and to push for more repairs in the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) apartments. The Comptroller also promised to work together to expand programs for children with Autism and ensure new potential funding for NYCHA is paired with accountability to make sure the money helps tenants.  

New leaders also presented the organizations' campaigns on immigration and homelessness. So far in 2017, MT and SBC have held two legal clinics and four know your rights sessions, connecting with over 500 immigrants and their families. New immigrant leaders who have come forward through these sessions are helping to shape our April 30th Action with NYPD Commissioner O'Neill and work beyond that.

The Assembly was covered by the New York Daily News, 1010 Wins, and The Villager.

Sun Mar 26, 2017

In Fight Against Mega-Landlord, Leaders Win Long Overdue City Housing Inspections -Jersey City

 

 

 

On Sunday, March 26th, 175+ tenant & Jersey City Together leaders gathered at St Paul's Episcopal Church to hold one of the city's largest landlords - Trendy Management - accountable. The owner, Esther Kaplan, had promised to attend, but cancelled at 12pm the day of the action. After tours of one of their buildings with leaders, press, & public officials, the city has begun systematically investigating their buildings. Inspections of the first 6 of their properties have resulted in more than 325 violations. The company owns more than 140 rent-controlled apartment buildings in Jersey City.

 

"Mold and Flooding, but no heat: Residents unite to take on Mega Landlord"

Jersey Journal (Caitlin Mota)

http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2017/03/jersey_city_residents_with_no_heat_living_in_mold.html#incart_2box_hudson

 

"Jersey City Together Group helping tenants hold management company accountable"

Jersey City Independent (Ricardo Kaulessar) http://www.jerseycityindependent.com/2017/03/jersey-city-together-group-helping-tenants-hold-management-company-accountable/

 

"Mega-Landlord hit with 100+ violations after residents rally for action"

Jersey Journal (Caitlin Mota)

http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2017/03/more_than_100_violations_for_mega-landlord_after_r.html#incart_river_index

 

"Here's hoping mayor keeps promise to hold mega-landlord accountable" (Op-Ed)

Op-Ed (Earl Morgan), Jersey Journal

http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2017/04/heres_hoping_mayor_keeps_promise_to_hold_landlord.html#incart_river_index

 

"Another 200+ violations issued to Jersey City mega-landlord"

Jersey Journal (Caitlin Mota)

http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2017/04/another_186_violations_issued_to_jersey_city_mega-.html#incart_2box_hudson

 

Wed Mar 22, 2017

Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC) Fighting to Create a Community Equity Fund -Cleveland

GCC loaded up three busloads of leaders and held a 175-person outside the corporate headquarters of Quicken Loans in Detroit.  The action was done together with our ally organization in Detroit, DRIVE (Detroit Regional Interfaith Voice for Equity) and focused on engaging Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, in bringing fairness to the proposed deal to spend $160 million in public funding to build a new glass atrium on the outside of Quicken Loans Arena, where the Cavaliers play.  As part of the deal to upgrade the Q, GCC is fighting to create a Community Equity Fund, which would provide a dollar-for-dollar match of all public money in deal and direct it towards areas of critical importance in Cleveland: jobs for the unemployed, mental health and addiction support, and capital projects in distressed neighborhoods.      
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tue Mar 14, 2017

IAF's Mike Gecan: Baltimore's Turnaround Tuesdays change lives -Baltimore Sun

Only 43 miles separate Zion Baptist Church in Baltimore from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in our nation's capital, but it would be hard to imagine two more different — and culturally distant — places.

For two hours on a recent Tuesday morning, I sat in on what is called Turnaround Tuesday — a creation of a citizens organization, Baltimoreans United In Leadership Development and an affiliate of the group I co-direct, the Industrial Areas Foundation. Seventy five residents were in their chairs at 9:00 a.m. sharp to participate in a program that was one part AA meeting, one part religious service, one part boot camp, one part job-preparedness training and all parts remarkable. Turnaround Tuesday had been operating for two years, based on BUILD's effective local organizing and the commitment of Baltimore's premier anchor institution, the Johns Hopkins University and Hospital, to hire hundreds of residents returning from prison or jail. To date, 274 people have already been hired to living wage jobs, and scores more are in the pipeline.

Fri Mar 10, 2017

Metro IAF's Greater Cleveland Congregations: GCC Wins Pledges from Three County Council Members to Stop Fast-Track of Quicken Loans Arena Renovations -Cleveland

 

Greater Cleveland Congregations continues their fight for fairness in the proposed deal from the Cleveland Cavaliers to spend $160 million of public money to upgrade Quicken Loans Arena.  GCC is fighting for a dollar-for-dollar match of all public money going into the deal to go towards a Community Equity Fund, which would provide critical supports for Cuyahoga County residents around mental health and addiction services, jobs for the unemployed, and capital improvements in distressed neighborhoods.    

On March 9th, GCC held an action with 425 leaders at Elizabeth Baptist Church in the Slavic Village neighborhood as part of their ongoing fight to bring fairness to the proposed deal being pushed by the Cleveland Cavaliers. The action featured a number of powerful speakers, including the mother of Alianna DeFreeze, the 14 year-old girl who earlier this year was brutally murdered while on her way to school and whose body was left in a vacant home.  Three key members of the Cuyahoga County Council pledged to slow the deal down and stop fast-tracking it.

GCC members will take the fight to Dan Gilbert's doorstep next week. A caravan of families who have been left behind by the ‘Cleveland Renaissance’ will drive to his headquarters in Detroit on March 21st for a daylong demonstration there.

Media:

www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2017/02/15/gcc-choreographs-masterful-opposition-to-quicken-loans-arena-renovations

 
 
 
Sun Mar 5, 2017

Durham CAN Leaders Affirm Durham as a City of Inclusion -news observer

Over 1,300 Muslims, Latinos, Refugees and allies turned out for a successful public negotiation with Sheriff, Police, City, County and School governments. Both the Sheriff and Chief of Police ratified their commitment not to collaborate with ICE and continue strengthening relationships with immigrants and the general community. Durham Public Schools Superintendent agreed to work with CAN in restricting, as much as possible, immigration enforcement activities within the school district's campuses.

Sat Mar 4, 2017

Do You Want to Know if Your College Allows Guns on Campus? -DNSIB Petition

While states across the country pass new “campus carry” laws, students and their families deserve access to information on colleges’ policies related to firearms. Therefore:

 

THE U.S. SECRETARY OF EDUCATION should compile data on campus gun policies; and

COLLEGE PRESIDENTS & COLLEGE RATINGS SERVICES should make this information easily available to current and prospective students.

 

To read the full petition and sign,

go here:  http://bit.ly/2llmO0k

Wed Mar 1, 2017

Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE): Trains 100 Muslim Leaders -VOICE

In the last 3 weeks, VOICE trained 325+ leaders including 125 from eight Northern VA mosques and schools. (As of 2017, one-third of the people who attend VOICE member & discerning member institutions are Muslim, 60,000 Muslims.)  VOICE leaders took commitments to “twin” with an institution near them that has a community different than them (politically, racially, ethnically, religiously, etc.). VOICE leaders will do listening sessions with their “twinning” partner throughout 2017 to build closer bonds and figure out how we may want to act together locally and at the state level when VA will be one of only two states that will hold a state-wide election.

Tue Feb 14, 2017

In Cleveland, Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC) are #NOTallin -Cleveland.com

GCC #notallinIn an effort to stop a fast track approval for a $160 million renovation for Quicken Loans Arena, Greater Cleveland Congregations held a press conference demanding that money be put back into the community instead. Other demands also included transparency of any proposal terms and a $160 million dollar-for-dollar match of investment into the community through jobs for people from distresses neighborhoods, after-school programs and other uses.

See more video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JQ-70JCB08

 

Greater Cleveland Congregations Goes Toe To Toe With Stadium Welfare

More than 200 people packed Cuyahoga County Council chambers February 14th, 2017;   resolution to spend 282 million in tax dollars to renovate Quicken Loans Arena at issue.

Members of 
Greater Cleveland Congregations, a non-partisan coalition which represents 100,000 people across 43 congregations and partner organizations in Cuyahoga County, made up the bulk of the crowd.

"I find this deal unconscionable," said GCC member Donna Weinberger of Solon. "This deal is not fair, equitable and not the best we can do to bring vitality and growth to all our neighborhoods."

GCC at Council Meeting

Thu Feb 9, 2017

Action in Montgomery (AIM) Stands for Constitutional and Human Rights, Stakes Claim on 2018 Election -AIM

More than 600 people packed the sanctuary of Silver Spring UMC to launch Action in Montgomery’s 2017 Listening Campaign and to stake a claim on the future of Montgomery County. Leaders celebrated AIM’s recent victories and called on county officials to ensure that Montgomery County residents are welcomed and treated fairly, regardless of faith or immigration status, and to partner with AIM and the community to expand affordable housing, quality and affordable afterschool care, and to work for a just transit system for workers and riders. 

Sat Feb 4, 2017

Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO): Massachusetts State Senate President Commits to Pushing Through Criminal Justice Reforms -GBIO

After a Feb 2nd action of over 900 people, the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization has been in the news around Criminal Justice, Affordable Housing and Health Care.

“This is the time, We are a close as we’ve ever been.” Massachusetts Senate President Rosenberg said this after committing to pushing through GBIO’s platform on Criminal Justice Reform, which includes pretrial bail reform, the elimination of mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, the elimination of excessive fees and fines and the elimination of excessive use of solitary confinement.

On Affordable Housing Dr. Jeanette Callahan, of Bethel AME in Roxbury was quoted in the Boston Globe. “It’s time sensitive. There will come a point when people can no longer afford to live in this city,”

In Healthcare, GBIO and more than two dozen additional group groups representing Massachusetts hospitals, nonprofits, labor unions, and other organizations are urging Governor Charlie Baker to oppose any federal policy changes that couldthreaten Medicaid coverage for thousands of poor and disabled people across the state, as well as the viability of the state’s subsidized health care insurance through the exchange.

 

Mon Jan 30, 2017

Metro IAF Leader Rabbi Mosbacher & the Trump Refugee Order -Associated Press

Rabbi Joel Mosbacher had just finished the morning's Shabbat service when he got an urgent message: Rabbis were needed at New York's Kennedy Airport. People were being detained under President Donald Trump's sharp travel restrictions on refugees. Would he come pray?

By sundown, Mosbacher was part a group of rabbis at the airport, playing guitar and conducting a Havdalah service marking the end of the Sabbath. About 2,000 people gathered to rally against the new policy.

"We know what it's like to be the stranger," said Mosbacher, a Reform rabbi at Temple Shaaray Tefila, noting that Jewish refugees were at times turned away from the U.S. "As a person of faith, it was so important to be there."

From pulpits to sidewalk vigils, clergy have been part of a religious outpouring against Trump's plan to suspend refugee entry from seven majority Muslim countries. Faith leaders who support the president's executive order as a way to fight terrorism have been far less vocal, ceding the religious discussion to those overwhelmingly opposed to the president's sweeping immigration order, which suspends refugee admissions for four months and indefinitely bars refugees from Syria.

Rally at Kennedy Airport

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which runs the largest refugee resettlement network in the country, said it "strongly disagreed" with the prohibitions and pledged to work "vigorously to ensure refugees are humanely welcomed." The Orthodox Union, the largest association for American Orthodox synagogues, acknowledged the complexities of fighting terror, but said "discrimination of any group solely upon religion is wrong and anathema to the great traditions of religious and personal freedoms upon which this country was founded."

 

Mon Jan 30, 2017

South Bronx Churches (SBC) & Manhattan Together (MT) Building Power with Immigrants -South Bronx Churches & Manhattan Together

On January 30th, leaders from South Bronx Churches and Manhattan Together held relational meetings with most of the 100 immigrants who came to a legal clinic hosted by the SBC member organization, the Mexican Coalition. Many of these immigrants were eager to build power to make positive change in their communities and beyond. This is the first of several such immigrant focused relationship building events planned for Manhattan and the Bronx over the next two months.

Sun Jan 29, 2017

1,200 Strong: PATH Leads Fight for Sanctuary County -PATH

Working with members of the County Council, People Acting Together in Howard (PATH) leaders organized a 1,200 person action January 29 in support of a bill that would make Howard County a Sanctuary County. At the action, over 300 people committed to hold house meetings in their communities to understand the challenges facing immigrants today.

See more coverage here:

http://www.foxbaltimore.com/news/local/howard-countys-sanctuary-proponents-meet-sunday

http://www.apps.howardcountymd.gov/olis/LegislationDetail.aspx?LegislationID=2738

http://www.abc2news.com/news/region/howard-county/gathering-in-support-of-howard-county-sanctuary-bill

Tue Jan 3, 2017

Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO) - Calls for Leaders to Act on Criminal Justice, Housing and Healthcare -The Boston Globe

Over 900 people filled the main sanctuary pews and two overflow rooms at Bethel AME Church in Jamaica Plains to call on elected officials to work with Greater Boston Interfaith Organization and the community to address equality and justice during these times of uncertainty. Testimonies of how the Affordable Care Act has saved lives of those in attendance were among the many stories told to pressure the city council, state leaders and those on the national scene to create more affordable housing, protect healthcare and to act on criminal justice reform.Over 900 Gather to Call Leaders to Act

 

Wed Nov 23, 2016

Trump, Sessions and Nehemiah: A fateful choice for the next attorney general -New York Daily News

“They which built on the wall, and they that bore burdens . . . everyone with one of his hands worked in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon.”

The Book of Nehemiah, 4:17

Opinion piece by Metro IAF Leaders, Rev. David Brawley, Rabbi Joel Mosbacher, Rev Patrick O'Connor and Bishop Douglas Miles.

Mon Mar 14, 2016

DuPage united: Meet Your Muslim Neighbor -Pakistan News

Mon Oct 26, 2015

Sen. Schumer Joins Do Not Stand Idly By -Metro IAF

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                CONTACT: Angelo Roefaro

October 23, 2015                                            202-380-5990

SCHUMER STANDS WITH MORE THAN 100 NYC METRO-IAF LEADERS TO PUSH LARGE GUN-PURCHASING FEDERAL AGENCIES, LIKE DOD AND DOJ, TO PRESSURE GUN MAKERS TO MAKE SAFER GUNS AND TO CEASE DISTRIBUTING VIA DEALERS WHO FAIL TO COMPLETE BACKGROUND CHECKS; U.S. GOVERNMENT--LARGEST GUN BUYER--MUST USE GUN CONTRACTS TO PROD GUN MAKERS TO STEM TIDE OF GUN VIOLENCE BY IMPROVING GUN SAFETY AND DISTRIBUTION PRACTICES

Schumer & Metro IAF—Nation’s Largest & Longest-Standing Network Of Local Faith & Community-Based Organizations—Say Federal Government and Other Top Gun Purchasers Can Do More To Stem Gun Violence; Fed Government’s Purchasing Power Must be Leveraged to Change Gun Makers’ Deadly Ways

U.S. Government Makes Up 25% of Gun Market; With DOD/Army Currently Considering Massive $580M Purchase of Small Arms, Now Is The Time To Rewrite Requirements For Federal Contracts

Schumer: By Raising The Standards On Which Gun Manufactures Can Do Business With The Federal Government, We Can Make America Safer 

 

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, alongside leaders of the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation (Metro IAF), LICAN and their “Do Not Sit Idly By” gun safety campaign, pushed a plan using the federal government’s leverage as a top purchaser of guns and ammunition to get gun makers to make improvements to their gun distribution and production practices, which contribute greatly to high rates of gun violence in communities across America.

“The massive purchasing power of federal agencies, like the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice, can and should be used to hold gun makers accountable for a lack of gun safety and irresponsible gun distribution – and to change those practice for the better,” said Senator Schumer.

Schumer explained that the U.S. government, including the military and law enforcement agencies, makes up 25 percent of the gun market and, as the nation’s number one buyer of guns from major manufacturers, has leverage to change gun makers’ production and distribution practices in ways that can improve safety in American communities. In fact, Schumer and the Metro IAF pointed out, the Department of Defense is soliciting proposals from gun manufacturers for a $580 million contract to replace the current aging handgun models used by service members. Schumer explained that the federal government should use its significant leverage to garner vital information from gun makers and to prod them to improve gun safety features and their distribution practices.                                                                          

“While I respect individual rights on this matter, gun violence in America is far too high and we must take sensible steps to reduce gun violence in all our communities. As the number one buyer of guns, the U.S. government should use its significant leverage to hold gun makers accountable for gun safety and gun distribution,” said Senator Schumer. “Our plan is a smart way to use the federal government’s market power to force gun makers to change and to improve the safety in neighborhoods. Our plan will push the gun makers to make smarter guns – innovations that make it harder for these weapons to be used in crimes – and we will push the gun makers not to distribute through dealers who are supplying guns to people who have not passed a background check. I pledge to work with my friends at Metro IAF and everyone across New York to do all I can to help address the scourge of gun violence in sensible ways.”

Specifically, Schumer is calling on the U.S. Army to amend its currently-open $580 million contract for small arms to include provisions that require bidders to supply information about what they are doing to produce so-called ‘smart guns,’ which are harder for criminals to access and use, and what they are doing to bring those guns to market. Further, Schumer is urging the Army to select a gun contractor that agrees to only sell on the civilian market to gun stores that require completed background checks. Senator Schumer will call on federal agencies to follow the example of the bi-partisan group of police chiefs, sheriffs, mayors, county executives, and governors, organized by Metro IAF, by taking two sets of concrete actions:  1) Require bidders on federal gun contracts to provide substantive answers to government queries about their distribution practices and safety technologies, and begin measuring their performance in these areas.  2) Expand research and development on “smart guns” and other safety technologies and explore the law enforcement and military applications of these technologies.

Further, to jump start better research and development of ‘smart gun’ technology and innovation, Schumer is pushing to triple funding to $6 million for Department of Justice to fund Gun Safety Technology grants. Currently, the National Institute of Justice conducts research on smart guns technology, however, Schumer said that even more needs to be done. This year, the National Institute of Justice received $2 million in DOJ grant funding and Schumer is asking that its federal DOJ funding be tripled. Schumer said that increased funding will help further develop technology that exclusively allows only an authorized user to fire a gun and deactivates when used by unauthorized users. Overall, Schumer explained that his plan will help get crime guns off our streets and help reduce gun violence.

“When it comes to sensible gun policy, the federal government has real market power, but it also has the power of example and it can show many other entities how to positively impact the behavior of the gun makers in ways that reduces violence -- without reducing anyone’s rights,” continued Schumer.

 Schumer was joined by Rabbi Larry Sebert, Reverend Getty Cruz, Rabbi Stef Kolin, Reverend David K. Brawley, Reverend Gawain de Leeuw, Rabbi Angela Buchdahl and leaders from Manhattan Today, South Bronx Churches, East Brooklyn Congregations, Westchester United, LI CAN and EQUAL.

“As the murder of Officer Randolph Holder in East Harlem shows, even New York City is awash in illegal guns,” said Reverend Getulio Cruz, pastor of Monte Sion Christian Church and a leader in Metro IAF.  “It’s time for the leading gun manufacturers to sever ties with the nation’s most irresponsible gun dealers.  And it’s time for the federal agencies that buy guns from those manufacturers to use their clout in the marketplace to demand that they do.” 

“Senator Chuck Schumer has been a leader on guns throughout his career,” said Rabbi Larry Sebert, Senior Rabbi at Town and Village Synagogue.  “As well as anyone in America, he knows the limits of what Congress can and will do.  He knows, like all of us do, that gun sanity can’t wait for Congress.  And he knows that the largest gun buyer in America certainly has a powerful voice in the firearms marketplace.”

A copy of Schumer’s letter is below:

Dear Secretary McHugh,

I understand that the U.S. Army recently released a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a new Modular Handgun System procurement competition requiring that proposals from interested contractors be submitted by January 28, 2016. I am writing today to urge the Army to amend the current RFP to include a deliverable requiring prospective contractors to include gun safety measures and distribution practices in their proposals. 

The Army regularly purchases hundreds of thousands of guns to arm our forces. In fact, the federal government is the largest purchaser of guns in the country – purchasing more than twenty five percent of the guns and ammunition sold in the United States. The manufacturers who sell guns to the military are the same ones who sell guns to civilian men and women across the country through local dealers and sporting goods stores. Unfortunately, because of a loophole in the background check system, not all guns are sold with a completed background check. During the last five years, more than 15,000 guns were sold to prohibited purchasers with incomplete background checks. This dangerous loophole means that people such as the Charleston killer are able to legally purchase a gun despite past prohibitive behavior. 

We know that even a fully functioning background check system cannot prevent all gun violence. We regularly see horrific accidents that could be prevented by smart gun technology, such as an 11 year old boy killing an 8 year old girl in Jefferson County, Tennessee earlier this month, hence the need for better innovations that make weapons workable only for the actual owner.  

As a standard part of the Army’s procurement process, I understand you require firearm manufactures to submit proposals with specific deliverables.  With this in mind, I urge the U.S. Army to include a deliverable in the current and future RFPs that would require gun manufacturers to agree to solely sell their guns in stores that require completed background checks prior to sale.  In addition, I also respectfully request that the amended RFP require all participating bidders to lay out a plan for the development and sale of smart or childproof guns and accessories.  The U.S. Army should do all it can to ensure that companies participating in small arms acquisition procurements are held accountable for their involvement in the civilian market, and are properly incentivized to promote smart gun technology and protections. Ideally, the RFP would require bidders on federal gun contracts to provide substantive answers to government queries about their distribution practices and safety technologies, and begin measuring their performance in these areas, and it would expand research and development on “smart guns” and other safety technologies and explore the law enforcement and military applications of these technologies.

There is no question that gun violence in America must be immediately addressed. Requiring manufacturers who participate in the procurement process to develop stronger gun safety measures will not improve public safety in the short term by closing background check loopholes, but lead to development of better protective technology for children and families.  

Thank you for your attention to this issue and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

Mon Oct 12, 2015

Media Roundup: Metro IAF Press Conference Delivers the Message To President Obama: Act Now on Gun Violence; Hold Gun Manufacturers Accountable -Washington Post

 
 
"As is their way, the community organizers and activists at the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) are pushing the president to use the federal government’s purchasing power to promote safer guns. To do business with the government, companies would have to be willing to “remove the barriers to getting smart guns and gun safety technologies to market” and cooperate with law enforcement to “identify and isolate dealers that provide large numbers of guns used in crimes.” 
 
 
ROUND-UP OF THE NEWS COVERAGE:
 
Columns & opinion pieces by EJ Dionne, Sandy Horwitt and Mike Kelly:
 
 
 
 
 
News coverage from Wash Post, VOA, WSJ, In These Times, Christian Science Monitor:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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