Why I’m Hopeful
We’re making progress, step by step, state by state!
Hope is a powerful thing.
As I travel around the country, I hear from many people who feel disheartened about our future. Our fight to save lives isn’t easy, fast, or linear. But if you only pay attention to the negative headlines, you’re only getting part of the story. That’s why I feel it’s so important to also celebrate our hard-fought wins and inspire optimism and action for a safer future.
I am so proud of what we have accomplished together this year. We’re making progress, step by step, state by state. Because of this, I wanted to highlight a few reasons why I feel hopeful and why you should too.
States passed lifesaving gun laws.
While passing gun safety legislation through Congress remains difficult, states are showing that lifesaving progress is possible when we elect the right leaders. In Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed universal background checks, safe storage, an extreme risk (a.k.a. “red flag”) law and a bill to disarm people convicted of domestic violence. Meanwhile in Minnesota, Governor Tim Walz signed background checks and an extreme risk bill into law. In both states, we worked closely with lawmakers to develop legislation and with advocates to get the bills across the finish line.
The White House created the Office of Gun Violence Prevention
Before he took office, I wrote to President Biden, asking him to create a White House–led interagency gun violence prevention task force. In September, he officially announced the creation of the first-ever Office of Gun Violence Prevention. This epidemic warrants dedicated leadership at the highest levels of our government, and this new office is a giant step forward to coordinate a whole-of-government response.
We beat the NRA in its home state
This year, every seat in the Virginia state legislature was up for election, and Virginians chose gun safety champions over extremists to protect their communities. Not only did they keep the gun safety senate majority, they flipped control of the Virginia House of Delegates. The candidates we endorsed ran—and won—on the promise to make Virginia safer. As we look ahead to next year’s elections across the country, we hope to take this winning momentum into the new year.
We’re closer than ever to universal background checks
Under President Biden, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is taking action to fight violent crime and save lives. The agency recently issued a rule to expand who is required to conduct a background check. It’s a policy we’ve pushed for since 2014, and our movement came out in droves to support this commonsense regulation during the public comment period. We still need Congress to do its job, but this is the closest we’ve ever been to universal background checks.
Richmond reduced youth homicides by 75%
Richmond, Virginia, has seen a 75% drop in youth homicides since introducing its Gun Violence Prevention and Intervention program last year. I believe that everyone—no matter their zip code or skin color—deserves peace and freedom from gun violence. That’s why I’m calling for critical investments in lifesaving, evidence-based community violence intervention programs nationwide. Cities like Richmond are proving that they work.
We celebrated decades of impact
In 2023, we marked two monumental anniversaries—10 years of GIFFORDS and 30 years of GIFFORDS Law Center. Alongside courageous survivors, legislators, and advocates, we’ve passed more than 620 gun safety laws in nearly every state and bipartisan gun safety legislation at the federal level since the tragedy at Sandy Hook. We’ve even sued the NRA and taken on the gun lobby’s dangerous agenda in the courts. Our fight is far from over, but it’s worth taking a step back to mark important milestones that wouldn’t have been possible without your support and hard work.
We have the White House on our side
Recently, I met with Vice President Kamala Harris and GIFFORDS Courage Fellow Tre Bosley to discuss America’s gun violence epidemic. The Biden-Harris administration has been one of the strongest gun safety administrations in US history. They’ve listened to our calls for action and taken concrete steps to make our country safer. With the White House on our side, I’m optimistic we can meaningfully advance our fight to save lives.
We know our work isn’t done. Too many Americans have had their lives upended by gun violence. Together, we will continue to turn pain into purpose and make our country safer for all. As we head into another election year and battle stiff headwinds in Congress, our belief in a safer future is more important than ever. Hope is more important than ever. Let’s celebrate these victories and use them to fuel continued progress.
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