For Release: Monday, July 26, 2010
Bill Would Only Increase Risk to Families and Children in Economic Strife
Washington, DC–The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote tomorrow (Tuesday, July 27) on a bill that would protect guns from the claims of creditors in bankruptcy proceedings (H.R. 5827). The national gun violence prevention organizations Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, GunFreeKids.org, Legal Community Against Violence, Protest Easy Guns, and Violence Policy Center are adamantly opposed to the legislation.
According to the groups, facts show that the last thing a family struggling with bankruptcy needs is access to a gun. Specifically, the presence of guns in households experiencing bankruptcy only enhances the risk of suicide or murder-suicide. According to the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS)–the only federal data that details such information–more than 12 percent of firearm-related murder-suicides and suicides were precipitated by financial problems. Firearms are by far the weapons most commonly used in murder-suicide. Studies confirm that firearms are used in approximately 90 percent of murder-suicides. The groups warned that H.R. 5827–which would protect guns up to an aggregate value of $1,500–is only the latest wrong-headed idea from the gun lobby that would protect guns at the expense of families.
Media accounts of murder-suicides also often include descriptions of the financial struggles, including bankruptcy, that precede such desperate acts:
- In June 2010, a California couple died in a murder-suicide and their three-year-old son was shot multiple times. The couple’s five-year-old son told authorities that his father tried to shoot him, and then shot his mother and brother. The family started missing house payments in early 2009 and had filed for bankruptcy in February 2010.
- In February 2010, a Florida couple died of gunshot wounds in a murder-suicide in what the St. Petersburg Times described as “the end of a long history of money troubles.” They had filed for bankruptcy in December 2004, listing $251,140 in debts. The couple’s two young daughters hid in the bathroom during the shooting.
- In June 2009, a Florida family of four, including a 12-year-old and a 10-year-old, were shot to death in a murder-suicide. The parents were deeply in debt and struggled for five years to get out, according to records filed in federal bankruptcy court. The couple had filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in 2004 and a trustee constructed a plan for them to repay their debts, but they failed to make the payments. The case was converted to Chapter 7 which would force the couple to liquidate their assets. A status hearing on the case was scheduled to occur two months after the murder-suicide.