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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 Voting: How to Protect Elections after Bruen

September 18, 2023

With more guns and more political polarization and violence, states need strong laws to limit risk. In Bruen, the Supreme Court recognized that prohibitions on guns in "sensitive places" — and specifically in "polling places" — were "presumptively lawful." Yet today only 12 states and Washington, DC, prohibit both open and concealed carry of firearms at poll sites. Ironically, the states with the strongest gun regulations — which had restricted the ability to carry guns in public generally, rather than prohibiting guns in particular locations — were made most vulnerable in the wake of Bruen. In fact, only one of the six states that had their laws struck down by the decision specifically prohibited guns in polling places at the time of the decision.Now these states that once had strong general gun laws must scramble to enact new protections for elections. Although some states have banned guns at polling placessince Bruen, there is far more work to do.This report evaluates the new risks that gun violence poses for U.S. elections and proposes policy solutions to limit those risks. Solutions include prohibitions on firearms wherever voting or election administration occurs — at or near polling places, ballot drop boxes, election offices, and ballot counting facilities. In addition, states need stronger laws preventing intimidation of voters, election officials, election workers, and anyone else facilitating voting, with express recognition of the role that guns play in intimidation.Brennan Center for Justice: http://brennancenter.org/Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence: https://giffords.org/lawcenter/gun-laws/ 

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.

Dispelling the Myth of the Second Amendment

June 29, 2021

The insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, culminated a year of increasing private militia engagement with the public — sometimes in forcible opposition to government policies or, in the case of January 6, in an attempt to "stop the steal," and sometimes in supposed augmentation of law enforcement's role to provide protection for persons and property against what the militias deemed "violent anarchists." These groups, often dressed in military uniforms, armed with semi-automatic assault rifles, and bearing a full accoutrement of military gear, pose a threat to public safety, stifle the constitutional rights of others, and undermine our democracy.Why have such private paramilitary organizations gone largely unchallenged? The answer lies in part in the widespread mythology that they are protected by the Second Amendment, a mythology promoted by those who attempt to rewrite history to support an insurrectionist view of the Second Amendment. But this view is not supported by history, the text of the Second Amendment, or its interpretation by the Supreme Court. Far from enabling private militias to be a check on a tyrannical government, as modern private militia members would have us believe, the founders intended the militia — all able-bodied men available to be called forth by the governor in defense of the state — to be subordinate to and governed by the state. Indeed, as this essay explains, private militias are not authorized under federal or state law, are not protected by the Second Amendment, and are unlawful in every state.