This special collection brings together evidence and insights from nonprofits, foundations, and research organizations working to understand the full impact of firearm use and gun violence in the US. By providing us with analyses of current state and federal laws as well as valuable data on suicides, homicides, accidents, and mass shootings, these organizations seek to inform sound public policy and to curb this ongoing public health epidemic.

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"Gun Violence" by M+R Glasgow licensed under CC 2.0

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Guns and Anti-Government Extremism in Nevada

July 20, 2022

The rise in violent white supremacist and anti-government extremism has permeated across the United States in recent years. All eyes were on Washington, D.C., on January 6, 2021, when—after years of rising tensions instigated by former President Donald Trump and his supporters—hundreds of militia groups and right-wing extremists attacked the Capitol. More than one year later, on May 14, 2022, a white 18-year-old espousing the racist "great replacement theory" fatally shot 10 Black people in a Buffalo, New York, grocery store. This white supremacist conspiracy theory posits that white people across the globe are going to be replaced by people of color.These devastating attacks did not occur in a vacuum. Gun violence prevention advocates had cautioned for months that the dangerous rhetoric could manifest in violent, deadly extremism; however, many did not heed the warning. In 2016, the Center for American Progress—in partnership with the Institute for a Progressive Nevada—released a detailed report on anti-government violent extremism in Nevada that echoed across the country. Nevada has an infamous history of violent extremist and anti-government actions by some residents. Now, the state is at a crossroads, experiencing rising extremist rhetoric alongside calls for weaker gun laws that, if combined, could be devastating and result in higher levels of extremist violence.This report is an update on the 2016 Center for American Progress report and examines how the combination of rising violent extremist ideologies and weak gun laws can lead to disastrous results for state residents. This report also presents the following policy solutions, which can be used to prevent future violent extremist attacks:Ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.Ban guns at polling places.Implement waiting periods for purchasing guns.Enact preemption laws.Address hate crimes.Enact a licensing law.

What Counties and Cities Can Do To Curb Gun Violence in Texas

May 25, 2022

Gun violence presents a significant challenge in Texas, approximately half of whose residents own a firearm and where a person is killed with a gun every two hours. High levels of gun ownership coupled with Texas' high rate of gun violence create a danger to public health.According to Rand Corp., an average of 46 percent of Texas residents owned a firearm from 1980 to 2016. However, this percentage likely increased after 2020, when the country saw a surge in gun sales associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. In contrast, estimates suggest that 32 percent of U.S. adults owned a firearm by the end of 2020. Texas is also home to numerous federal firearm licensed (FFL) dealers. Information from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) indicates that as of January 2022, the state had almost 10 percent--5,089--of all FFL dealers in the country. Studies also report that thousands of gun shows6 are organized in Texas every year.

Gun rights groups set new lobbying spending record in 2021

May 16, 2022

On Saturday, an 18-year-old gunman entered the Tops Friendly Supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y. He killed 10 people, injured three others and left a community reeling. Sen. Ted Cruz (R–Texas), who has received more funding from gun rights groups than any other politician since he was elected to Congress in 2012, condemned the racially-motivated mass shooting as "profoundly anti-American."But mass shootings are an increasingly common facet of American life. There have been 198 mass shootings in 132 days in 2022. The Buffalo massacre is the deadliest this year so far.Powerful gun rights groups including the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Gun Owners of America have poured millions into lobbying, campaign contributions and outside spending to advocate for the right to bear arms. At least 81.4 million Americans owned guns in 2021. Gun rights groups spent a record $15.8 million on lobbying in 2021 and $2 million in the first quarter of 2022. These organizations have invested $190 million in lobbying efforts since 1998. Gun rights advocates spent more than $114 million of that total since 2013.Lobbying by gun rights advocates nearly tripled in 2013 after a gunman murdered 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary on Dec. 14, 2012. The following year was the closest the Senate has come in the last decade to passing meaningful gun control legislation.

The Gun Industry’s Advertising: Effective, Deadly, and Actionable

April 7, 2022

The FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection has a clear mandate: to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive practices in the marketplace. But, thus far, the FTC has failed to fulfill this mandate with respect to the gun industry. The FTC is failing consumers, failing our democracy, and failing the millions of Americans who have lost their lives or their loved ones to gun violence. The FTC's inaction has also harmed countless more Americans who must live with the scars, trauma, and emotional and economic damage that America's gun violence epidemic, fomented by the gun industry for profit, has caused. The FTC can and must change this. No industry--regardless of its political clout—should be immune from scrutiny of its marketing and advertising.This Petition, brought by Brady, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence ("Giffords Law Center"), and March For Our Lives, in partnership with the FACT Coalition (collectively, "Petitioners"), demands that the FTC exercise its broad investigative and enforcement powers to investigate and regulate the gun industry's advertising practices. As we show, the FTC's inaction has allowed the gun industry to spend decades using unfair and deceptive advertising to sell deadly weapons to an American public that has been falsely led to believe that gun ownership is a safe way to protect their home and family. 

New Jersey Executive Order 83: Preventing Gun Violence through the Power of Procurement

January 11, 2022

State and local executives can — and must — act decisively to ensure that firearm sellers, distributors, and manufacturers adopt safe business practices that prevent guns from being diverted to the illegal market. In 2019, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy did just that when he exercised his procurement powers to issue Executive Order 83 (EO 83), a policy designed to guarantee that firearm industry businesses and financial institutions providing services to the state are committed to gun safety principles. Toward that end, New Jersey state offices sent Requests for Information (RFIs) to the state's firearms and finance vendors to assess their commitment to public safety principles.Brady subsequently submitted open records requests for the vendor responses to these RFIs, and our analysis of their content found that EO 83 was successful both in promoting gun safety and laying a strong foundation for future action on its behalf. The firearms industry responses show how seriously different vendors approach their obligation to minimize the public safety risks posed by guns — information which can be used to better inform the state's procurement decisions. The responses from the finance industry revealed that merely sending an RFI to its members can promote gun safety by giving them good reason to assess their approach to working with the gun industry, educate their executives on gun safety, and even adopt new policies regarding their relationships with gun industry clients.This report shows how EO 83 established a broad foundation for future actions that will further advance the state's commitment to gun violence prevention, providing concrete recommendations to state and local executives around the country who wish to replicate and expand on New Jersey's landmark approach to procurement and gun safety. With the epidemic of gun violence claiming more than 40,000 lives a year, states should focus on measures they can take to promote legal compliance and safe business practices by leveraging their procurement powers — a life-saving, indeed necessary, tool that should be adopted by every state in the nation. This is particularly true in the current national climate, where a few states, such as Texas, are implementing regressive policies that seek to dissuade financial institutions from adopting gun safety strategies. If more jurisdictions follow New Jersey's lead, however, the industry will face mounting pressure to adopt practices that ensure compliance with the law and protect public safety, leading to less gun violence and more saved lives. 

Origin of an Insurrection: How Second Amendment Extremism Led to January 6

January 3, 2022

In January 2020, Brady advocates planned to take part in an annual Martin Luther King Jr. gun violence prevention advocacy event at the Virginia State Capitol, but state officials cautioned wouldbe participants that 2020 would be different: Second Amendment extremists were planning to turn out. Out of caution, Brady cancelled its official participation in the event because an estimated 20,000 individuals from across the country, armed with assault-style rifles and wearing tactical gear, descended on the State Capitol in Richmond, VA. It was a deeply troubling moment for members of the gun violence prevention movement, who saw their First Amendment right to speak and assemble quashed by gun-toting extremists. We did not know then that the events of that day were only a dress rehearsal for far worse to come.On January 6, 2021, Congress was set to certify the results of the 2020 election. But extremists, many of them armed, mounted an insurrection with violent force that resulted in death and injury and nearly derailed Congress' capacity to confirm a president duly elected by the citizens of the United States. For Brady supporters and gun violence prevention advocates, it was both a sickening gut punch and deja vu. Although only one of the four people1 killed on January 6 was shot, the 2021 attack had the same roots as the 2020 Virginia State Capitol unrest: Second Amendment extremism.Second Amendment extremism arises from what's commonly known as the "insurrectionist" construction of the Second Amendment: a false interpretation fomented by extremists, marketed by the gun lobby, and adopted by some mainstream politicians, including the 45th President of the United States. Second Amendment extremism lays the foundation for much domestic unrest and weaponized terror throughout American history, including but not limited to the Oklahoma City Bombing, the armed agitation at the Michigan State Capitol, and yes -- January 6, 2021. Indeed, investigations and firsthand accounts of January 6 show that many of its agitators were armed, ready, and willing to harm lawmakers. Accordingly, officers on duty at the U.S. Capitol that day had credible reasons to fear that many rioters were armed; a number of these officers have since testified before Congress that those fears hindered their ability to control the insurrectionist mob.Yet the common narrative around January 6 often omits the role of Second Amendment extremism. Ignoring the ways in which guns, and gun mythology, fuel domestic extremism in America has been -- and will continue to be -- a deadly error. For these reasons, this report sets out to examine the role U.S. gun culture and policy played in laying the foundation for January 6. If we do not spend time reflecting upon our past, we are doomed to repeat it -- and that we cannot do, because human lives and bedrock civic principles hang in the balance of this understanding and reckoning. At Brady, we have confronted extremism before, and we know that unless we take action, we will face it again.

Defending Democracy: Addressing the Dangers of Armed Insurrection

January 3, 2022

The growing presence of firearms in political spaces endangers public health, safety, and the functioning of democracy. Far from being an outlier, the January 6th insurrection at the United States Capitol was part of a long line of events in which individuals have sought to use political losses to justify violence or threats of violence to disrupt our government and limit civic engagement. These attacks on our nation and democratic institutions are preventable, but not without purposeful action.This report is both an examination and a warning of the threat that armed insurrectionism poses to democracy in the United States. It also counters the reckless and false narrative that the Constitution creates rights to insurrection and the unchecked public carry of any firearm, and rejects the notion that violence has any place in our nation's politics. The report concludes with recommended policy approaches that policymakers and advocates can use to address the dangers posed by armed insurrectionism. 

Combatting Crime Guns: A Supply-side Approach

September 22, 2021

According to the most recently available data, the retail gun dealers responsible for selling the majority of crime guns are a fraction of the total gun industry: about 90% of guns recovered by law enforcement are traced back to just five percent of licensed firearms dealers. Gun tracing enables law enforcement to identify the gun dealers with poor business practices responsible for diverting guns from the regulated market to the criminal market.However, the federal government's oversight of these dealers is limited. From October 2016 to October 2017, federal agents inspected only 11,000 of the more than 130,000 federal firearms licensees ("FFLs") in the United States — and cited over half the inspected FFLs for violations — yet revoked the licenses of less than one percent of them.The key takeaway: The federal government does not adequately ensure that the country's hundreds of thousands of FFLs sell guns lawfully and appropriately. Significant progress against gun trafficking and gun crime will be made only if local and state officials take action.Brady is proud to release "Combating Crime Guns: A Supply-Side Approach," a report that is intended to help state and local elected officials better understand:The issue of crime guns;The supply-side approach to gun violence prevention; andThe various ways a supply-side approach may be implemented at the local level of government.This report can also be used by members of the community as a guide to hold their elected officials responsible for enacting a comprehensive supply-side approach.

The Impact of Gun Violence on Latinx Communities

September 15, 2021

Latinx people in the United States are dying from gun violence every day and at rates disproportionate to their white peers. Increasingly, they are the target of hate motivated violence, including in August 2019, when the devastating mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, laid bare the deadly consequences of hate and rhetoric against the Latinx community.

Implementation Toolkit for Gun Safety Laws

July 12, 2021

Giffords Law Center is deeply committed to working with policymakers and stakeholders to identify key components of effective implementation. Our Implementation Toolkit offers information and resources to assist communities with this important and often overlooked aspect of gun violence prevention policies.

Guns and Democracy

June 29, 2021

Recent armed protests in legislatures and in streets across America show that guns can do more than inflict physical injury — they can threaten the public sphere on which a constitutional democracy depends. It follows that gun regulation can do more than prevent physical harm — it can also protect citizens' equal claims to security and to the exercise of liberties, whether or not they are armed and however they may differ by race, sex, or viewpoint.

Beyond Law and Order in the Gun Debate: Black Lives Matter, Abolitionism, and Anti-Racist Gun Policy

June 29, 2021

In 2020, millions of Americans mobilized for racial justice and police accountability under the banner of the Black Lives Matter movement. The diverse range of their demands notwithstanding, activists overwhelmingly called for the decentering (if not also defunding) of police as the go-to institution for solving problems of crime, broadly reflecting the anti-racist politics embraced by the contemporary criminal justice abolition movement. Recognizing that American gun policy has often deepened the reach of the criminal justice system amid the war on crime's broad ambit, this article considers how abolitionist approaches -- and the broader scholar-activist work in which they are embedded -- challenge the traditional coordinates of gun politics and gun policy and provide a framework for forging an anti-racist gun politics. Putting criminal justice abolitionism into conversation with existing community-led efforts that decenter the criminal justice apparatus in gun violence prevention, this essay examines gun abolitionism as a means of revamping dominant visions of safety and justice from an anti-racist perspective -- and reformulating the leading approaches to gun policy accordingly.