Martin Luther King III praises Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s support for gun control legislation

Media Contact: PJ Kim, Executive Director of the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy: PJKim@drummajorinstitute.org 646.274.5707 New York, New York (January 24, 2011)— Martin Luther King III, the eldest son of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, the President of the King Center, and Co-Founder of the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy (DMI), praised Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s leadership and support for common sense gun control. DMI and the King Center have long supported efforts at all levels of government to reduce the level of violence in our society as a precursor to meaningful social justice and have always advocated non-violent social change as the weapon of choice in battling the economic injustice and poverty that inflicts daily violence on millions of American families. In 2000, DMI sponsored several ads in national newspapers calling for increased gun buy-backs; they may be found below. Sadly, the statistics of gun violence have not substantially improved since that time. Martin Luther King stated: “For decades we have tolerated senseless gun violence, which has struck down too many of our fellow citizens, particularly our young people. If we want to create a nonviolent society, we must enforce our public safety laws to keep the angry and dangerous few from destroying the peace and harmony of the many. I wholeheartedly join Mayor Bloomberg in calling on the President and Congress to finally deliver on the long unfilled promise to make sure that every gun-buyer passes a background check. It is unconscionable to do anything less.” William Wachtel, the Founder of DMI, added: “For time immemorial, hatred has been the gun powder of senseless violence. So as we search for preventive measures in gun control and effective support for mental health, let us also attack the root of the evil. Let us all try to see the world through the eyes of 50 million fellow Americans, 1 in 6 of our fellow brothers and sisters many of whom are children, who went to sleep last night hungry. For the richest nation to allow this cruel and inhuman punishment to continue, indeed worsen, is its own act of violence. So let us all join mayor Bloomberg in this important gun control initiative. Let us end the silence of good people on this crucial problem that plagues our nation. And let us join together in committing once and for all to win the war against social injustice and to form a more perfect union, a battle that can and must be won without a further ounce of bloodshed.” PJ Kim, the Executive Director of DMI added: “If a single bullet can alter the course of history for a nation, I hope that a 33-round magazine can shatter our national stupor about common sense gun control. I applaud Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership to rally his fellow mayors and Americans from across the political spectrum to ask our President and Congress to enact reforms to keep our communities safe.” Gun violence in America remains a public health crisis. Guns in our communities make innocent people more vulnerable to deadly violence, not safer. • Over a million people have been killed with guns in the U.S. since 1968, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated (Children’s Defense Fund). • The risk of homicide in the home is three times greater in households with guns. • The vast majority of young murder victims aged 12 to 24 years old (over 80%) are killed with a firearm. The U.S. has a similar crime rate to other developed countries, but because more guns are used in crimes, crime in the U.S. is more deadly. • The rate of firearm death of children under 14 is nearly 12 times higher in the U.S. than in 25 other industrialized countries combined. • Nearly 100,000 people are injured or killed by gunshot in the U.S every year – of which over 12,000 are murders. By population, that is a gun-homicide rate 5 times that of Canada, 19 times that of Australia, and 44 times that of England. (Brady Campaign).

About The Drum Major Institute for Public Policy (DMI) The Drum Major Institute for Public Policy (DMI) is a nonpartisan think tank founded during the civil rights movement to put the best arguments and ideas into the hands of those advocating on the frontlines for progressive economic and social change in cities. On issues ranging from the economic potential of America’s urban areas to immigration reform, DMI shapes how policy debates are waged and won. DMI also trains talented young people from underrepresented communities to become the next generation of leaders who can advance progressive public policy. Please visit www.drummajorinstitute.org for more information. ######