Skip to Main Content

Giffords Publishes Annual State Policy Recommendations

The recommendations, which come after two years of increased gun violence and extremist rhetoric, include implementing and investing in community violence intervention programs, banning ghost guns, and strengthening background checks

    Washington, DC– 2020 saw a 15% rise in gun deaths and in 2021, it is likely that this percentage is even higher. Giffords published a new memo today highlighting critical policies that states should prioritize to keep communities safe from violence. Recommended actions include implementing crucial community violence intervention programs, getting new hate crime legislation on the books, and passing universal background checks. 

    The rise in gun violence seen in 2020 and 2021, combined with the historice jump in murders, was also marked by an increase in right-wing extremist rhetoric. This culminated in the violent insurrection on January 6, 2021, when insurrectionists stormed the Capitol following the free and fair election of President Joe Biden. Combating the scourge of gun violence and armed intimidation goes hand in hand with the fight against homegrown extremism. 

    Sean Holihan, Giffords State Legislative Director,:  

    “As the pandemic continued to rage across the world and our country, armed intimidation and gun deaths rose to unprecedented heights. The violent insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol one year ago carried enough ammunition to shoot every member of Congress five times. Our elected officials, their staff, and the journalists who cover them spent that day fearing for their lives. In the year since, the relationship between the fight against gun violence and the fight to preserve our democracy has become clearer than ever. 

    We are in a gun violence emergency. More than 45,000 people lost their lives in 2020 to this preventable crisis, and that number likely increased in 2021. That is too many lives. We can and must do everything in our power to tackle gun violence. That includes investing in community violence intervention programs in the communities most vulnerable to gun violence, prohibiting individuals convicted of domestic violence from accessing firearms, banning ghost guns, and passing universal background checks. It’s time for legislatures and governors across the country to advance gun safety legislation and save lives.”

    Gun violence and domestic extremism are intertwined crises. Over the past several years, states like Virginia and Michigan faced threats from mobs of armed extremists. To fight the rise in violent extremism and insurrection, states must prohibit firearms on state capitol grounds, in government buildings, and at polling places. In 2021, Efforts to prohibit firearms under these circumstances passed in states like Virginia and Washington, where Giffords worked with lawmakers to take these critical actions to protect public safety.

    In the memo, Giffords details how implementing universal background checks prevents people prohibited from purchasing firearms from doing so. State laws that require handgun purchasers to obtain permits or otherwise undergo background checks have been associated with lower rates of gun homicides, suicides, and gun trafficking. In 2021, over 21 million guns were sold, more than any other year on record. 

    The memo also encourages legislators to fund evidence-based community violence intervention programs. Underserved communities and communities of color are disproportionately impacted by gun violence. Gun homicides are the leading cause of death for Black men ages 15 to 34. Community violence intervention strategies have proven to be effective. Research and case studies have demonstrated that through a combination of low-cost, community-oriented intervention programs and much-needed firearms policy reforms, gun violence rates can be cut in half in as little as two years.

    Additional policy priorities to fully address gun violence include

    • Implementing Universal background checks
    • Banning ghost guns
    • Implementing extreme risk laws
    • Prohibiting individuals convicted of domestic abuse from accessing firearms
    • Implementing hate crime legislation
    • Ensuring lost and stolen firearms reporting
    • Civil liability for gun manufacturers


    Our experts can speak to the full spectrum of gun violence prevention issues. Have a question? Email us at