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With the White House & Congressional Majorities Committed to Gun Safety, Giffords Details Policies that Should be Passed this Year to Save Lives

2020 saw a record number of first-time firearm buyers, creating urgency to enact universal background checks and fund evidence-based violence intervention programs.

Washington, DC– Many communities across the country severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic are also struggling with an ongoing crisis of gun violence. This requires swift action by the new administration and Congress, and now, the country has a historic opportunity to meet the challenge. Gun safety champions in the White House, Senate, and House can and should address gun violence in a comprehensive way. 

Giffords released a new memo today highlighting critical policies that Congress should prioritize and executive actions that the Biden-Harris administration can take to keep communities safe. The organization called on Congress to move swiftly and pass legislation like universal background checks.

Nico Bocour, Giffords Government Affairs Director:  

“Gun violence is the public health crisis that persists through every step of this global pandemic. Trump and his gun lobby allies have created a catastrophe. At every turn they spurred hateful and extreme supporters to flaunt their firearms—whether protesting lockdowns or election outcomes. Fortunately, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris are gun safety champions who understand unfettered access to guns puts everyone at risk. A robust agenda for reducing the number of people shot every year starts with passing universal background checks and allocating federal funding for community violence intervention programs. We urge the White House and Congress to advance these and other critical gun safety priorities that will help save lives.”

New data demonstrates that the rise in gun sales shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, it is estimated that 17.4 million guns were sold between March and November 2020, which is 81% more than the number of estimated guns sold over the same period last year. Research shows that the surge in gun sales after the 2012 presidential election and Sandy Hook shooting were associated with increases in firearm injuries and unintentional child gun deaths. 

In the memo, Giffords details how implementing universal background checks ensures that people prohibited from purchasing firearms cannot do so through an unregulated sale from an unlicensed or online seller, at a gun show, or through a sale between unlicensed individuals. Background checks are proven to be effective: since 1994, over 3 million illegal gun sales have been stopped by background checks and in 2017 alone, NICS stopped 181,000 prohibited people attempting to buy guns from licensed dealers.

The memo also encourages legislators to fund evidence-based community violence intervention programs. Communities of color are significantly impacted by gun violence and from 2012 to 2017, black children and teens were 14 times as likely to be shot to death as their white peers. Community-based violence intervention programs take multiple forms, including group violence intervention, which targets services for high-risk individuals with clear and swift consequences from law enforcement for those who continue to perpetrate violence. Congress should swiftly provide federal dollars for these strategies.

Additional policy priorities to fully address gun violence includes

  • Preventing domestic abusers from accessing firearms
  • Ensuring the completion of all background checks
  • Implementing extreme risk laws
  • Reforming policing practices
  • Regulating large capacity magazines
  • Making hate crimes a prohibitor for gun possession
  • Regulating assault weapons
  • Repealing gun industry immunity
  • Preventing gun trafficking
  • Strengthening oversight of firearms dealers
  • Setting up federal law enforcement agencies for success
  • Enacting permit-to-purchase requirements 
  • Implementing child access prevention laws
  • Developing gun safety technology

The Biden-Harris Administration has demonstrated a commitment to taking decisive action to address this life or death issue. Upon entering the White House, the administration will have an opportunity to take meaningful action to save lives from gun violence that should start with executive action to pass common sense gun safety legislation. Recently, Giffords offered a blueprint on how to build a gun safety agenda on the issue that starts with these four core ideas: 

  • Creating an interagency task force on gun violence
  • Nominating strong leadership at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
  • Prioritizing community violence intervention
  • Moving forward on banning “ghost guns” 
  • Resume conducting research on illegal gun trafficking
  • Restore oversight of firearms exports to the Department of State


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