Dear Mr. Campbell:
Thank you for contacting AARP about our policy concerning firearms.
This is a difficult subject for people to discuss. I appreciate your
sharing your views with us.
I do not have a copy of the letter you referenced, but Mr. Rother was
the AARP Director of Legislation and Public Policy at that time.
AARP policy does not "ban all guns." Our policy targets only
inappropriate gun purchasers, not responsible citizens. Here is the
statement passed by our Board of Directors:
"Congress should eliminate gaps in and strengthen enforcement of the
Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act and other federal gun laws.
States should enact legislation to eliminate gaps in, and strengthen
enforcement of, federal and state gun laws, particularly with regard
to possession by juveniles, convicted domestic abusers and those
under domestic violence restraining orders."
AARP continues to support careful measures to improve the enforcement
of existing federal and state laws. Contributing to our decision was
a 2002 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO)
indicating that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System
(NICS) is not always able to access relevant records, especially
domestic violence misdemeanor convictions, within the time period
allowed under the law for background checks. Also, information
gathered by the U.S. Department of Justice (September 2003) indicates
that 70% of homicide victims age 12 or older were killed with a
firearm, and that handguns were used in over half (56%) of all
Recent research indicates that lethal violence in the US far outpaces
other Western nations. AARP policy reflects concern that
crime-especially violent crime-may have particularly severe
consequences for older people and teens.
AARP policymaking is an ongoing process. Our all-volunteer National
Policy Council thoughtfully develops each policy, after reviewing the
pros and cons. Then the Council makes recommendations to the Board
of Directors, who are also all volunteers. Both groups are made up
of a distinguished cross-section of AARP members. All our public
policies are carefully reviewed each year. Communications from
members, like yours, contribute to establishing, strengthening and
updating our policies.
I hope this information has been helpful. Please do not hesitate to
contact us if there is any way we may be of assistance in the future.
Thank you again for taking the time to get in touch. It is an
important part of my job to consider carefully the concerns of every
Toll-free 1-888-OUR-AARP (1-888-687-2277).
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