Gun Violence

Welcome to:

Topekans Against Gun Violence

Mission Statement: To reduce preventable tragedies in Topeka by increasing awareness of the escalating problem of gun violence and advocating strategies that reconcile gun rights with public safety.


Topekans Against Gun Violence, a taskforce of the Topeka Center for Peace and Justice, was formed in late winter and spring of 2014. The taskforce was a response put forth by the Rev. James Atwood, one of America’s foremost leaders in the effort to reduce gun violence. Speaking in Topeka’s First Congregational Church in February, Rev. Atwood encouraged Topekans to join other communities across the country in the effort to reduce gun violence.

In the months since Rev. Atwood’s visit, groups members have determined that our first step should be to educate ourselves about the nature of the problem in Topeka and Shawnee County. Toward this effort, TAGV formed several teams, or task forces to study the problem. The reports of these teams will be posted on this Web site as they are presented to the full group. Click here to view the report of the Law Enforcement Perspectives” Task Force. Law Enforcement Perspectives Task Force.

Did you know? — click here to view some of the statistics members of Topekans Against Gun Violence have come across during the past year.

A new approach to reducing gun violence by “Do Not Stand Idly By” focuses on market forces rather than legislation. Read a commentary by TAGV member Duane Johnson


Links to other sites dedicated to reducing gun violence:

Everytown USA — An Action alliance between “Moms Demand Action” and “Mayors Against Illegal Guns”

Heeding God’s Call  — A Faith-based initiative to reduce gun violence

Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence — A Leading source on state and federal law.

“Firearms Violence Trends in the 21st Century”   UC-Davis – statistical analysis

“Reducing Gun Violence in Our Communities”   — Law enforcement best practices

Links to additional information about guns and gun violence:

“America and Its Guns: A Theology Expose ” by James E. Atwood — a book review

“10 Things the Gun Industry Won’t Tell You”  — Wall Street Journal article

“Suicide in Kansas” — KDHE    March 2012


Success Stories Team Report: July 26

  1. The team described a program called SNUG, a successful effort to reduce gang and gun violence in the city of Yonkers, N.Y.  See article entitled, “Anti-gang and Gun Violence program widely successful in Yonkers.” 
  2. The team also discussed the results of a study entitled,  “The Effectiveness of Policies and Programs That Attempt to Reduce Firearm Violence: A Meta-Analysis,” conducted by researchers at Arizona State University  and University of Cincinnati aimed at reviewing “the effectiveness of dozens of policies designed to reduce gun violence in the United States. The researchers examined 29 rigorous studies between 1983 and 2005 that assessed the effectiveness of four major areas of gun violence interventions: information, training, and storage campaigns; gun buy-back programs; gun laws; and law enforcement campaigns.  Key study findings include:
    • “The studies included in this analysis, on average, indicated a weak to moderate impact of these policies and programs on gun violence.”
    • While all interventions reduced gun crime, gun buy-back programs and stricter gun laws were found to be only marginally effective. Law enforcement efforts, however, were found to significantly reduce gun-related crimes.
    • Of these legal interventions, probation strategies — increased contact with police, probation officers and social workers — proved most effective at curtailing gun violence; policing strategies and community programs were moderately effective, while “prosecutorial strategies” — harsher sentences and restricted bail opportunities — showed the least promise.
    • Mandatory firearms waiting periods and background checks were shown to have no statistical effects on gun crimes, while bans on specific weapons were moderately effective.
    • “The effect of safe-storage laws show they have been ineffective at reducing gun crime. The [studies] examined … found that, if anything, safe storage laws work to increase crime.”
    Researchers concluded that “law enforcement programs are clearly more effective than gun laws” and that the “most effective programs combined both punitive and supportive strategies to effectively reduce gun violence…. – Click here to see a report on the Journalist’s Research Web site.


Current Gun Legislation

Federal Law

  • No fully automatic weapons or short-barreled shotguns (1934)
  • No mail order & require businesses to be licensed and keep permanent records
  • Licensed dealers must conduct background checks prior to sale
    —  does not apply to private sales
    — federal government may not keep records of names submitted
  • 1996 Congress effectively banned the CDC from conducting research on
    —  health and societal impacts of gun violence—still in force.  No other scientific field of inquiry is treated as such.
  •  From 1994 to 2004, banned manufacturer & sale of assault weapons (law has sunset)
  • These are minimum requirements applying to all 50 states
  • Proposed (S.1290) – ensure that individuals convicted of misdemeanor stalking, sexual assault, harassment are prohibited from possession.
  • Biggest problem = lack of background check requirement for private sales.
  • Congress failed a recent attempt at this.


State Laws – General

1.   Purpose is to fill gaps in federal law, e.g.:

  • Background checks on private sales  (required by 9+7 states)
  • Restrict certain weapons & ammunition
  • Reporting of stolen guns
  • Prohibit dangerous people from owning

2. Recent trends in state law   (2013-2014)

  • In summary, 8 states strengthened laws (see list inn #7 below) Most common relate to mental health & domestic abuse.
  • 4 states loosened laws (most related to where guns can be carried)
  • 5 states enacted background checks on private sales
  • 4 added requirement for dealers and individuals to report lost or stolen guns
  • 3 increased background checks for ammunition
  • 4 added or strengthened restrictions on assault weapons
  • 5 added or strengthened restrictions on ammunition

3. New state laws seen as most progressive & with most potential

  • Background checks on private sales
  • Expansion of ban on possession by domestic abusers, mentally ill, drug criminals

4.  21 states recently loosened restrictions on sale and use.  Many pertain to concealed carry & stand-your-ground.
5.  California just passed: (1) requirement that handguns meet certain safety standards; and (2) speed up communications between courts and DOJ re: possession restrictions relating to certain mental health actions by the court.
6.  States with worst grades (2013 grade card from Law Ctr to Prevent Gun Violence:

  • Kansas and all states south and east of here
  • All mountain states except Colorado

7.  States with the most “common sense” laws:

California, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, most New England states, Iowa, Minnesota.

8.  California – new measures to strengthen firearms laws

  • Stronger ban on large capacity magazines
  • Expanded safety training requirements
  • Improved database of “prohibited persons”
  • Improved reporting of mental health threats
  • Strengthened child access prevention laws (owner accountability)

9.  Supreme Court recent actions relative to states:

  • Upheld New Jersey law limiting guns in public places.
  • Upheld D.C. law requiring registration of all guns.
  • Supreme Court is generally refusing to hear 2nd amendment challenges to States’ common sense laws.


Kansas Law

Thirty-six states have stronger  gun laws than Kansas. (Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence)

Kansas does:

  • Require certain mentally ill individuals to be reported to the fed background check database

Kansas does not:

  • Require background checks on sales between unlicensed individuals
  • Require firearms dealers to obtain a state license
  • Regulate the transfer or possession of assault weapons or hi-capacity clips
  • Require gun owners to obtain a license, register firearms, nor report lost or stolen firearms
  • Impose a waiting period for purchase
  • Limit the number of firearms that may be purchased at one time
  • Regulate unsafe handguns
  • Allow local governments to regulate
  • Give local law enforcement discretion to deny a concealed carry permit
  • Significantly regulate ammunition

New Kansas laws in 2013 – 2014

  • Allow school districts and universities to authorize their employees to carry weapons into the work environment.
  • Allow concealed carry into any building not posted.
  • Liberalized open carry & repealed all local gun ordinances.
  • Prohibited lobbying or public info campaigns advocating gun control using state $.
  • Exempt Kansas-manufactured guns from federal regulation (5 small manufacturers/ 85-90% U.S. guns made in CT, NH, MA, NY, CA).  This is considered unconstitutional and is being challenged by Brady Center.
  • Concealed carry reciprocity with other states (SB 21)


White House proposal

  • close the background check loophole.
  • Ban assault weapons / clips > 10 rounds.
  • Remove legal restrictions on CDC et. al. research.
  • Create interstate info exchange re: criminal history, mental health.
  • Increase penalties for straw purchasing.
  • Promote safe storage and use of weapons.
  • Increase mental health resources.
  • Improve school safety via education and enhanced law enforcement.