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Giffords Publishes New Federal Policy Recommendations to Save Lives from Gun Violence

The recommendations, which come after two years of escalating gun violence, include passing legislation to enact universal background checks and fund community violence intervention programs, as well as executive actions to strengthen enforcement of federal gun laws

Washington, DC– Today, Giffords published a new memo highlighting critical policies that Congress should prioritize and executive actions that the Biden-Harris administration can take to keep communities safe from gun violence. Recommended actions include funding and implementing crucial community violence intervention programs, finalizing proposed rules regarding ghost guns and stabilizing braces, and providing additional resources to the Department of Justice to properly address the gun violence crisis. Giffords also called on Congress to move swiftly and pass legislation that would enact universal background checks, as well as legislation to keep firearms out of the hands of people convicted of domestic abuse.

Gun violence skyrocketed in 2020, with a 15% rise in gun deaths, and gun violence deaths in 2021 likely surpassed this total. The rise in gun violence seen in 2020 and 2021 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. 

Adzi Vokhiwa, Giffords Federal Affairs Director:  

“These past two years, Americans saw an unprecedented rise in gun violence and armed intimidation that culminated in the storming of our nation’s Capitol. Our lax gun laws have made it easier than ever for extremists to get their hands on guns and attack our democracy. This is unacceptable. Americans deserve to feel safe at home, in their neighborhoods, and in their places of work. 

Congress must act now to pass lifesaving gun laws, including universal background checks. The Biden-Harris administration also has a tremendous opportunity to continue addressing the gun violence epidemic with executive actions. We look forward to working with this administration and gun safety leaders in Congress to advance critical gun safety priorities and show Americans that their calls for action have been heard.”

In the memo, Giffords details how Congress should implement policies such as universal background checks to ensure that people prohibited from purchasing firearms cannot do so through an unregulated sale from an unlicensed online seller, at a gun show, or through a sale between unlicensed individuals. Background checks are proven to be effective: since 1994, over three million illegal gun sales have been stopped by background checks. In 2017 alone, NICS stopped 181,000 prohibited people attempting to buy guns from licensed dealers. Closing the dangerous loopholes in our background checks system are more important now than ever before: in 2021, over 21 million guns were sold, more than any other year on record. 

Additionally, Congress should pass legislation this year to prevent domestic abusers from accessing firearms, fund evidence-based violence intervention programs, incentivize states to pass extreme risk laws, regulate large-capacity magazines, and require safe storage of firearms in the home.

The Biden-Harris administration has begun addressing the gun violence crisis via executive action. Within his first 100 days in office, President Biden announced several executive actions aimed at keeping our communities safe and gave an address from the Rose Garden on the urgency of ending America’s gun violence epidemic. These new reforms included:

  • Issuing a proposed rule to help stop the proliferation of ghost guns
  • Issuing a proposed rule to make clear when a device marketed as a stabilizing brace effectively turns a pistol into a short-barreled rifle subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act
  • Developing and publishing a model extreme risk protection order law for states
  • Directing ATF to issue an annual report on firearms trafficking
  • Investing $5 billion to support community violence interventions

Additional policy priorities the Biden-Harris administration should consider to fully address gun violence include

  • Ensure the completion of all background checks
  • Overhaul ATF
  • Create an infrastructure for community violence intervention (CVI)
  • Improve and increase enforcement actions against federal firearms licensees who willfully violate the law and contribute to trafficking of firearms
  • Declare gun violence a public health emergency in areas where shootings and gun homicides are greatest


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