Kelly, Himes reach out to business leaders to help fight gun violence
Today, Representatives Robin L. Kelly (IL-02) and Jim Himes (CT-04) led more than 40 Representatives in sending a letter to the CEOs of the Fortune 100 outlining opportunities for the business community to help decrease gun violence. Nearly 3,000 Americans have died from gun violence since the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, including high profile and tragic shootings both of and by police across the country. This is on top of the constant stream of violence affecting communities across the country on a daily basis.
With Americans frustrated at the lack of action in Congress to stem the tide of deadly gun violence, the signatories to the letter wanted to create open dialogue between business leaders, public officials and the community in partnership to reduce gun violence.
"In underserved communities, gun violence is a symptom of the much larger problem of lack of economic opportunity and positive outlets that offer alternatives to violence," Kelly said. "While we're urging our colleagues in Congress to act on commonsense gun reform we know that we can't rely on legislation alone. Gun violence is a multi-faceted problem requiring an equally comprehensive solution, including increased economic opportunity. Encouraging our business community to invest in underserved communities will help create the pathways to peace we need to reduce gun violence in America."
“Even though Congress has failed to act to protect the American people, we are not out of options,” said Himes. “We are taking this argument back to our districts to business and community leaders to invest in the efforts and programs that will make a difference. We’re realistic and know that we can’t stop all gun violence, but it’s our duty do to everything in our power to stop the silence and save every life that we can.”
The full letter is below and HERE.
After the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, a hateful attack targeting the LGBT community that took the lives of 49 innocents, people around the country stood together saying, “Enough is enough.” While mass shootings such as this one capture national attention, Americans are affected daily by gun violence in urban, rural and suburban communities.
We returned to Washington hopeful that we might finally make progress in combatting our nation’s gun violence epidemic. Sadly, Congress has responded only with silence and a refusal to act on even the most basic gun safety measures. Congressional inaction does not mean that we are powerless to fight violence, however, and we ask that you join us in working toward making safer communities for our families.
Far too often, violence and poverty go hand in hand as individuals without other options, especially young men, turn to crime to support themselves. A life of violence not only harms communities, but traps these young men in the criminal justice system, affecting their prospects for future employment and perpetuating the cycle. The toll that this everyday gun violence takes on our neighborhoods is staggering, but we can stop it if we act now and act together.
As a leader of the business community, you have the power to make a real difference in the lives of your employees and the communities in which they live. Small investments of time and energy can reap large rewards, by improving quality of life and improving safety. Some examples of initiatives you could undertake include:
- Starting a mentorship program for employees to work with at-risk youth in the community.
- Developing hiring policies that extend opportunities to applicants from surrounding neighborhoods.
- Investing in neighborhood beautification, public park improvement, and the creation of safe spaces that create safe and constructive environments for young people.
- Sponsoring local schools or youth sports teams in the community.
- Working with outside organizations to find employment for individuals who have previously been involved in the criminal justice system and need a second chance.
Many companies are already deeply involved in this work, and we are grateful for those efforts. We would welcome the opportunity to learn from successes and share them with the rest of the business community. If you wish to become more involved, we are more than willing to put our resources to work to help you find the right level of involvement for your company and seek out partner organizations. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of an ongoing conversation.
As Congress goes into recess for the summer without any progress made to reform our gun laws, the burden falls on all of us to carry on the fight at home. We are at your disposal and look forward to working in partnership with you over the coming weeks and months to make a safer country.
The Undersigned Members of the US House of Representatives