The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Kristen Rand, Violence Policy Center, 202-822-8200 x102,
or Peter Hamm, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, 202-289-5792,

House Expected to Vote on Bill to Protect Guns From Claims of Creditors in Bankruptcy Cases

Bill would only increase risk to families and children in economic strife


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,, 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:

o 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.

o 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.

o 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.

The Violence Policy Center (VPC) works to stop gun death and injury through research, education, advocacy, and collaboration. Founded in 1988 by Executive Director Josh Sugarmann, a native of Newtown, Connecticut, the VPC informs the public about the impact of gun violence on their daily lives, exposes the profit-driven marketing and lobbying activities of the firearms industry and gun lobby, offers unique technical expertise to policymakers, organizations, and advocates on the federal, state, and local levels, and works for policy changes that save lives. The VPC has a long and proven record of policy successes on the federal, state, and local levels, leading the National Rifle Association to acknowledge us as "the most effective ... anti-gun rabble-rouser in Washington."