MEMO: Supreme Court Nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Dangerous Record on Gun Policy

Brett Kavanaugh remarks

On Monday, President Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the DC Circuit to fill Justice Kennedy’s seat on the United States Supreme Court. The nominee has a troubling record on guns: Judge Kavanaugh has issued prior rulings that are ideologically aligned with the gun lobby and reflect a radical interpretation of the Constitution under which public safety justifications play no role in Second Amendment jurisprudence. Should Judge Kavanaugh be confirmed to the Court for life, the results could devastate elected officials’ ability to adopt the public safety measures Americans have repeatedly demanded after massacres like Parkland.

Background on Heller and the Second Amendment

Ten years ago last month, in a landmark 5–4 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, the US Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right of law-abiding citizens to possess a handgun in the home for self-defense. The Court struck down an extreme handgun ban in place in Washington DC, but cautioned that, like all rights, the Second Amendment is “not unlimited”: it is not a “right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” The Court provided a non-exhaustive list of gun regulations it said were presumptively lawful, confirming that public safety laws and self-defense rights can be harmonized under the Second Amendment.

Heller ushered in a flood of litigation, including gun lobby-backed cases that sought to expand Heller to invalidate even moderate gun regulations. These cases saw little success: reflecting the Supreme Court’s recognition that many firearm laws pose no constitutional problem, lower courts have rejected post-Heller challenges about 93% of the time. To date, consistent with Heller’s middle-ground approach, gun policy hasn’t been an unusually partisan issue among lower courts. Judges appointed by both Democrats and Republicans voted to uphold key gun safety measures after Heller, including minimum age laws, state and local assault weapon bans, concealed carry permitting laws, and risk-based gun removal laws. Over the last ten years, the conservative-leaning Supreme Court declined nearly every chance to review Second Amendment cases or expand on the Heller ruling. During this time, political opposition driven by the NRA, not Heller or judges, was by far the biggest obstacle to addressing the gun violence epidemic.

Most lower-court judges to consider Second Amendment cases have taken seriously Heller’s instruction that the Second Amendment is “not unlimited” by overwhelmingly voting to uphold laws that protect the public from gun violence without infringing constitutional rights. But a few judges, mostly those writing in dissenting opinions, have departed from this consensus view by broadly rejecting public safety justifications for firearm regulations and arguing that many more important measures are unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. Unfortunately, some of these dissenting judges are on President Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist, and one of them, Justice Neil Gorsuch, has already been confirmed to the Court. The confirmation of a second justice with views on gun policy that are radically far from mainstream could result in the dangerous expansion of Heller gun lobby groups have not been able to achieve thus far.

Judge Kavanaugh’s Record on Guns

In a follow-on case to Heller known as Heller II, Judge Kavanaugh wrote a dissenting opinion arguing that Washington DC’s assault weapons ban and registration laws violate the Second Amendment. While two other judges cast deciding votes upholding both laws, Judge Kavanaugh instead sided with the gun lobby’s position that every type of firearm that is marketed and sold to enough Americans enjoys absolute constitutional protections, concluding that because assault weapons are in “common use” today and were not historically regulated, they cannot be prohibited under the Second Amendment. Similarly, Judge Kavanaugh determined that because most states do not require registration of firearms, it is unconstitutional to have a mandatory registration law—meaning that under his circular logic, any gun regulation that is not already widespread is constitutionally suspect.

In the same dissent in Heller II, Judge Kavanaugh interpreted the US Supreme Court’s decision in Heller to require judges to disregard compelling public safety justifications for gun regulations and consider only the text of the Second Amendment and the history and tradition of regulating in a certain area when deciding if a challenged law is constitutional. Under Judge Kavanaugh’s interpretation of the Second Amendment, there is an “absence of a role for judicial interest balancing or assessment of costs and benefits of gun regulations.” This radical view would allow judges to pick and choose which gun regulations have adequate historical support and invalidate all other laws. For example, Judge Kavanaugh might vote to strike down important gun safety laws that address modern dangers that did not exist at the time of the founding of the United States, like extreme-risk protection order laws that remove guns from the possession of likely mass shooters, and domestic violence restraining order laws that protect victims of domestic abuse (a crime that wasn’t even recognized in early American history).

Finally, while Judge Kavanaugh has not issued a major ruling on the issue of public carry of firearms outside the home, he did cast a dissenting procedural vote in Grace v. District of Columbia stating he would leave in place a lower-court ruling striking down DC’s concealed carry licensing law pending appellate review. This suggests that Judge Kavanaugh was sympathetic to the view that the District of Columbia’s “good reason” requirement for concealed carry permit applicants is unconstitutional, a position that places him well outside the mainstream. Judges have overwhelmingly upheld similar concealed carry requirements, including those in place in California, Maryland, New York, and New Jersey—and in each case, the US Supreme Court denied review, leaving favorable lower-court decisions upholding strong concealed carry permitting laws in place.

The above rulings should concern anyone who believes our leaders must remain empowered to take action to stem America’s gun violence crisis. But President Trump’s selection of a judge with outlier views is no coincidence: it reflects the clout of the NRA and its influence over the Administration’s policies and judicial nomination strategies. In early 2017, the NRA spent $1 million to support the nomination of Neil Gorsuch—and once Justice Gorsuch joined the Court, he joined a dissenting opinion arguing that California’s strong concealed carry laws violate the Second Amendment. President Trump’s nomination of Judge Kavanaugh seems a clear demonstration that the President is still letting the gun lobby dictate his policies, contradicting his own call for meaningful action after the massacre in Parkland.

Impact on Critical Firearm Policy Issues

While applying Heller’s holding that individuals have a constitutional right to use a handgun for self-defense in the home, lower courts have generally exercised caution when confronting issues not yet addressed by the Supreme Court. This means some substantive Second Amendment questions lack definitive answers. If confirmed to the Supreme Court, Judge Kavanaugh could play a key role in shaping the Court’s rulings on these and other areas of gun policy.

Concealed Carry

Heller recognized that “the majority of the 19th-century courts to consider” the issue of concealed carry of firearms upheld restrictions that were far more stringent than the moderate concealed carry regulations states have adopted today. While numerous federal courts, including the Second, Third, Fourth, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits, have interpreted Heller to allow for appropriately strong concealed carry regulations in public, one outlier court struck down a good-cause concealed carry permitting law in the District of Columbia. Seeking to capitalize on that decision, the NRA recently backed a series of lawsuits challenging strong concealed carry permitting systems in New Jersey, Maryland, and New York, and filed a brief arguing that Massachusetts’ concealed carry standards are unconstitutional. One or more of these cases may be taken up by the US Supreme Court after Justice Kennedy’s replacement is confirmed.

Assault Weapon and Large-Capacity Magazine Restrictions

Heller stated that the Second Amendment is not a “right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose” and recognized that dangerous and unusual weapons, like those “most useful in military service,” may be prohibited. Many courts, including the Second, Fourth, Seventh, and DC Circuits, and district courts in Colorado and California, have applied this reasoning to uphold assault weapon or large-capacity magazine (LCM) restrictions. However, one outlier trial court recently sided with the NRA in a challenge to California’s LCM possession ban, holding that the ban was likely unconstitutional and suggesting that magazine limits of any size pose a constitutional problem (that decision is being appealed). The California case—as well as gun lobby-backed suits challenging LCM laws in Vermont and New Jersey—may, in the near future, be appealed and eventually presented for Supreme Court review.

Post-Parkland Gun Safety Legislation

States have adopted 52 new gun safety laws since the school shooting in Parkland, FL. Gun lobby groups have responded to this renewed political and legislative energy by filing new court challenges to block gun safety laws. Lawsuits challenging Florida’s new minimum age law, Maryland and Florida’s trigger activator bans, and local gun safety ordinances may tee up new Second Amendment issues for intermediate appellate courts, and possibly the US Supreme Court, in the years to come.

The Supreme Court has declined to weigh in on any of the above issues in the ten years since Heller, leaving it unclear how some members of the current Court would resolve these cases. Some justices, including Justices Thomas and Scalia and, recently, Justice Gorsuch, have revealed their views by dissenting from the decision to deny review in Second Amendment cases, expressing that they would prefer to grant review and strike down gun regulations in key policy areas. Because it only takes 4 votes for the Supreme Court to grant review, the four more reliably conservative justices could have granted review in Second Amendment challenges without Justice Kennedy. It is possible the Court declined to do so because Justice Kennedy was a moderating force on Second Amendment issues who was unlikely to strike down the reasonable gun regulations Justices Gorsuch and Thomas disfavor. If true, Judge Kavanaugh’s potential confirmation to the Supreme Court presents a disturbing possibility that a new coalition of justices will vote to hear more firearm cases and strike down more lifesaving laws under a radically broad conception of the Second Amendment.

Statements on Kavanaugh’s Nomination

In response to President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court, Giffords and Giffords Law Center released the following statements:

Former Representative Gabrielle Giffords

“In nominating Judge Kavanaugh to be the next Supreme Court justice, the Trump Administration is once again showing brazen disregard for the people it claims to protect. Judge Kavanaugh’s dangerous views on the Second Amendment are far outside the mainstream of even conservative thought and stand in direct opposition to the values and priorities of the vast majority of Americans. America needs a Supreme Court justice who respects the Second Amendment but who also realizes reasonable regulations that reduce gun violence do not infringe on anyone’s constitutional rights. But that’s not the kind of justice President Trump nominated today.

“America’s gun violence epidemic weighs daily on the minds of so many families in our country. Parents live in fear of hearing their children describe to them what it’s like to go through an active shooter drill. Too many people in communities across the country live in fear of being shot in their neighborhoods. In states across the country, students and voters have been speaking up, taking to statehouses, and demanding that lawmakers pass effective gun safety legislation. Their advocacy is delivering results: just since the massacre in Parkland, more than 50 gun safety bills have passed in 26 states. Should the Senate confirm the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh, we have every indication to believe that he will prioritize an agenda backed by the gun lobby, putting corporate interests before public safety. Make no mistake, the progress we’ve achieved passing firearm laws that save lives every day will be in serious danger.”

Hannah Shearer, Staff Attorney and Second Amendment Litigation Director

“Judge Kavanaugh has expressed a dangerous hostility toward reasonable gun regulations and made clear he believes the government’s power to address gun violence is extremely limited. Judge Kavanaugh rejects the idea that courts should consider public safety when judging gun cases and would strike down bedrock gun laws like those that restrict civilian use of the dangerous, military-style weapons regularly used in mass shootings.

“Even Justice Scalia, one of the most conservative Supreme Court justices in modern history, endorsed reasonable firearm regulations like the ones Judge Kavanaugh would strike down. Judge Kavanaugh’s positions on the Second Amendment are outliers far outside the mainstream, and confirming him to the Supreme Court could negatively impact efforts to fight gun violence for many years to come. The notion of Judge Kavanaugh serving on our nation’s highest judicial bench should worry Americans who care about the safety of their families and communities. Now is the time for them to speak up and demand a nominee who will respect centuries of American legal tradition, recognize that gun rights have always gone hand-in-hand with responsible regulations, and put the life and liberty of all Americans ahead of the interests of the gun lobby.”

 

NSSF v. State of California: Defending California’s Groundbreaking Handgun Microstamping Law

Update — On June 28, 2018, the California Supreme Court issued a favorable decision rejecting the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s challenge to California’s microstamping law, siding with the position Giffords Law Center argued for in our amicus brief.

Case InformationNational Shooting Sports Foundation Inc. v.  State of California, No. S239397 (California Supreme Court brief filed Nov. 13, 2017).

At Issue: In 2007, California passed a law designed to reduce the number of unsolved gun crimes by requiring that new handgun models sold in the state include microstamping technology. Microstamping imprints a serial number onto shell casings when a shot is fired, and represents a significant improvement on traditional ballistic identification techniques. Unsurprisingly, law enforcement groups strongly support this revolutionary crime-solving tool. However, gun manufacturers have repeatedly opposed microstamping, first by attempting to block action by the California legislature, and then by refusing to sell new handgun models in the state. The latest volley by the gun industry came when an industry group filed litigation arguing that the microstamping law is invalid because it is infeasible for gunmakers to comply with it. In NSSF v. State of California, the California Supreme Court has taken up the narrow legal question of whether gun manufacturers may file suit against a duly-enacted product regulation by claiming compliance is “impossible” (NSSF’s lawsuit does not raise any broader constitutional claims).

Giffords Law Center’s Brief: Our brief argues that microstamping has been shown to be a feasible and reliable technology in empirical studies and live demonstrations before police officers. But even accepting NSSF’s baseless claim about the technology’s feasibility, the lawsuit must still be dismissed, because California’s microstamping law does not require gunmakers to do what they claim is impossible. Rather, the law merely bars introducing new handgun models in the state until gunmakers sufficiently develop microstamping technology and are able to implement it—which the evidence suggests is already easily possible. Our brief explains that the microstamping law is therefore consistent with a longstanding tradition of laws that require manufacturers to improve the safety or mitigate the environmental impact of a given product in order to have continued access to a state market. For instance, California leads the nation by setting emissions caps which carmakers must meet to sell vehicles in the state. Allowing NSSF’s unsupported “impossibility” claim would threaten the validity of such emissions standards, and many other commonplace consumer regulations that are essential to protecting public health and safety.

Read the full text of our amicus brief here.

Malpasso v. Pallozzi: Defending Maryland’s Strong Public Carry Regulations

Case Information: Malpasso v. Pallozzi, No. 18-cv-01064 (D. Md. brief filed June 18, 2018).

At Issue: This case involves a Second Amendment challenge to Maryland’s concealed carry laws, which require applicants for permits to carry loaded, concealed handguns in public to demonstrate a “good and substantial reason” for obtaining a permit. Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit claiming that this good-reason standard violates the Second Amendment—taking the extreme position that Maryland cannot authorize its law enforcement officers to protect public safety by enforcing meaningful public carry regulations.

Giffords Law Center’s Brief: Our brief argues that this Second Amendment challenge is foreclosed by binding Fourth Circuit precedent (Woollard v. Gallagher, 712 F.3d 865 (4th Cir. 2013)). In addition, since Woollard was decided in 2013, compelling new empirical evidence has confirmed the challenged law’s constitutionality and the need for states to adopt discretionary permitting standards to protect public safety. No current or credible data supports the weak hypothesis, advanced by gun lobby lawyers and by some discredited researchers, that concealed carry has a crime-deterring effect.

Read the full text of our amicus brief here.

Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton Honored at 25th Anniversary Dinner

Last week, over 800 of our supporters gathered in San Francisco for Giffords Law Center’s 25th Anniversary Dinner. It was simply an incredible evening—one that renewed our spirit and resolve and reminded us why we fight each day for a safer America, no matter what we’re up against. We looked back at our organization’s history, paid tribute to the lives lost in the 101 California shooting, and looked forward to the promise of the next generation.

Watch highlights from the Anniversary Dinner:

 
We gave Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton our Courageous Leadership Award for her unwavering support of safer gun laws, and for inspiring the next generation to fight for progress. We also honored the outstanding student activists of 2018 with our Lifesaving Service Award. This award was accepted by three students, one from Chicago and two from Parkland—Ke’Shon Newman, Kayla Schaefer, and Olivia Wesch—who are demanding action and accountability from our leaders. Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman received the Odgers Pro Bono Partnership Award for the many years they have spent helping us craft effective policy and defend existing gun safety laws.

We are exceedingly grateful for the sponsors and supporters who made this evening possible, and whose generosity and commitment fuels our work every day.

 
View photos of the 25th Anniversary Dinner:

Giffords 395

 
Watch Secretary Clinton’s full remarks:

NEW REPORT: Securing a Safer Future: How Incentives for Gun Safety Technology Can Stop Shootings

Every year, 125,000 Americans are victims of gun violence. Too many kids—about 4.6 million of them—live in homes where firearms are kept unlocked and loaded. Too often, poorly secured guns lead to unintentional deaths, teen suicides, homicides with stolen guns, and even mass shootings. Yet despite the gravity of America’s gun violence epidemic, technological innovation has largely focused on making guns more lethal, not safer.

In our new report, Securing a Safer Future: How Incentives for Gun Safety Technology Can Stop Shootings, we explore how technological innovation can—and should—be used to improve firearm security and save lives.

This report represents an entire year of research and analysis by Giffords Law Center’s legal and policy experts. What we found gave us cause for hope. Legislative incentives targeting both companies and consumers can help bring a wide range of gun safety products to market. The benefits of allowing gun owners to secure their firearms using safety technology, also called “smart gun” or “personalized gun” technology, include:

  • Protecting children from unintentional shootings: American toddlers are involved in unintentional shootings about once a week. Safety technology, including personalized guns, safes, and trigger locks, can help prevent these tragedies by ensuring children can’t access and fire guns.
  • Stopping teen suicides: Guns are used in nearly half of all teen suicides. Gun safety technology could save many of these lives by preventing teens from using firearms to take their own lives in moments of crisis. Research shows that 90% of people who survive a suicide attempt don’t attempt suicide again.
  • Preventing assaults with stolen guns: Around half a million guns are stolen each year, and 10-15% of these guns are later used in crimes. Firearms that could only be fired by their owners or other authorized users could not be used in an immediate assault or other crime by the thief. Eventually, this technology could lead to reductions in gun theft and trafficking.

Start-ups have already designed guns and locking devices that use technology like fingerprint scanners to prevent unauthorized users from accessing weapons. The potential to save lives is enormous, and consumer interest in personalized guns is high—despite bullying and boycotting on the behalf of gun manufacturers.

In Securing a Safer Future, we present an overview of what gun safety technology is, how it can save lives, and what it will take for us to realize its full potential. Our report explores:

  • The current state of gun safety technology: Reliable technology to secure firearms from unauthorized access already exists. One biometric trigger lock is already being sold, and other developers are making progress toward incorporating cutting-edge versions of this technology into handguns, safes, holsters, and trigger guards.
  • Where gun safety technology is heading: Despite a funding gap created by gun lobby opposition and a lack of private and government funding, many innovators are seeking to improve on existing technology and guide industry-transforming ideas for safer firearms from the drawing board to the marketplace.
  • Consumer preferences: Demand for gun safety technology is strong: up to 7 in 10 American gun owners are open to buying a “childproof” personalized gun as their next handgun purchase.
  • Incentives to create access to safer firearms: The right incentives will encourage the development and sale of personalized guns and accessories by leveraging market forces and responding to developers’ needs.

The incentives outlined in this report are designed to guide the way for lawmakers who have the courage to fight for the technological advancements that can prevent tragedies and save thousands of lives. We hope this report will provide a roadmap for lawmakers, activists, and others interested in exploring the lifesaving potential of gun safety technology.

Read the full report: Securing a Safer Future: How Incentives for Gun Safety Technology Can Stop Shootings

STATEMENT: Gabrielle Giffords Reacts to Shooting at Texas’s Santa Fe High School

Santa Fe Shooting

May 18, 2018—Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the co-founder of the gun violence prevention organization Giffords, issued the following statement reacting to today’s shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas.

STATEMENT FROM CONGRESSWOMAN GABRIELLE GIFFORDS

“Once again today, students stood before national cameras and detailed the terror that unfolded in their school. We heard children report that they called their parents to say ‘it’s for real this time’ and that they ‘always knew this would eventually happen, it was just a matter of when.’

“I will not stand for this and neither should you. Parents should not have to hug their children in the morning and worry about whether they’ll see them at the end of the day. We don’t have to live in a country where the politicians let this happen again and again and again.

“These students in Texas now have to reckon with the unspeakable trauma of a shooting at their school—the experience of calling their parents in a panic, hearing the shots ring out from a classroom, scrambling and running for their lives. Soon they will attend funerals for their classmates and friends.

“It’s time for America to find the courage to take on the powerful and fight for our own safety. We can’t wall ourselves off from the threat of gun violence—it doesn’t work. Nor can we simply arm ourselves against one another—that makes it more dangerous still.

“We need the courage to take on the special interests who say that nothing can be done, that these acts of evil are beyond our ability to control. They are not. The gun lobby and the politicians who receive the NRA’s checks must understand we will not tolerate another vote against our safety.

“Congress must find the courage to pass the effective laws that can protect our children and stop dangerous people from accessing guns. And if this Congress won’t protect our kids and communities from gun violence, this November we will vote in a Congress that will.”

Background

Background information about gun laws in Texas and background information about school shootings is available here.

Giffords Law Center recently released a report on the impact of gun violence against children. Among its key findings are that:

  • Since Columbine alone, more than 150,000 students in at least 170 elementary, middle, and high schools have experienced school shootings.
  • 91% of children in high-income countries who are killed with firearms live in the United States.
  • Nearly 60% of all high school students report fears of a shooting at their school or in their community.
  • Nearly 40% of children exposed to a shooting will develop PTSD.

Experts Available

The following gun law and law enforcement experts are available for interviews. To arrange an interview, email [email protected]:

  • Captain Mark Kelly, Co-founder, Giffords
  • Peter Ambler, Executive Director, Giffords
  • Robyn Thomas, Executive Director, Giffords Law Center (Recently featured on 60 Minutes)
  • David Chipman, Former ATF Agent, Senior Policy Advisor, Giffords
  • Laura Cutilletta, Legal Director, Giffords Law Center
  • Adam Skaggs, Chief Counsel, Giffords Law Center
  • Allison Anderman, Managing Attorney, Giffords Law Center
  • Ari Freilich, Staff Attorney, Giffords Law Center
  • Robin Lloyd, Director of Government Affairs, Giffords
  • Lindsay Nichols, Federal Policy Director, Giffords Law Center
  • Hannah Shearer, Staff Attorney, Giffords Law Center
  • Mike McLively, Staff Attorney, Giffords Law Center

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Teixeira v. County of Alameda: Supporting Zoning Laws That Keep Gun Stores Out Of Sensitive Areas

Update: On May 14, 2018, after an 11-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of Alameda County and the position Giffords Law Center advocated for in our amicus brief, the US Supreme Court denied review—leaving the Ninth Circuit’s favorable decision in place.

Case Information: Teixeira v. County of Alameda, No. 13-17132 (Ninth Circuit brief filed Aug. 1, 2016).

At Issue: This case involves a Second Amendment challenge to Alameda County’s gun dealer ordinance, which prohibits gun stores within 500 feet of any school, liquor store, or residence. The district court upheld the ordinance, but a divided Ninth Circuit panel vacated the district court’s opinion and remanded for further proceedings. The County filed a petition for rehearing or rehearing en banc, which is currently pending before the Ninth Circuit.

The Law Center’s Brief:  Our brief explains that Alameda County’s modest dealer law provides a safe distance between new gun dealers and sensitive areas such as schools, and is a lawful exercise of the County’s authority to regulate the commercial sale of guns. Our brief urges the Court to rehear Teixeira because the panel’s opinion disregarded the Supreme Court’s determination in Heller that laws imposing conditions on the commercial sale of firearms are presumptively lawful, and also broke with Ninth Circuit precedent by requiring the County to demonstrate that its dealer ordinance is “longstanding.”

Read the full text of our amicus brief here.

 

Gun Violence Increased by 28% in 2016, According to CDC

It’s no secret that the United States faces a devastating epidemic of gun violence that touches every community across the country. Newly released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that gun violence impacts an alarming and increasing number of Americans. In 2016 alone, more than 155,000 people were shot—almost 39,000 fatally. That’s 34,000 more gun violence victims than in 2015, and 40,000 more than in 2014. In fact, this new data shows that America’s gun death and injury rates rose for the second straight year in a row, after having remained relatively flat for more than a decade.

Some key takeaways from the new data include:

  • In 2016, 106 people were killed by guns and another 318 were wounded every day.
  • Nonfatal gun injuries increased by nearly 40% from 2015 to 2016—the largest increase in more than a decade.
  • Suicides comprise nearly 60% of gun deaths (22,938 in 2016), yet only 4% of nonfatal firearm injuries. The unique lethality of firearms makes suicide attempts with a gun far more likely to result in death.
  • Firearm homicides and assaults have risen precipitously in the last few years. From 2015 to 2016 alone there was a 10% increase in firearm homicides and a 40% increase in nonfatal firearm assaults.

Although these overall increases are striking, communities of color are disproportionately affected by the uptick in gun violence. For example, the gun death rate among black Americans increased by nearly 11% from 2015 to 2016, and data suggests that many of these increases occurred in underserved urban communities.

Children are also at increasing risk. The new CDC data shows that from 2015 to 2016, gun deaths and injuries among minors jumped by nearly 12%. In 2016 alone, an average of 26 minors were shot each day, and gun violence inflicts consequences on children and communities that go far beyond the physical damage. As we examine in our recent report, Protecting the Parkland Generation: Strategies to Keep America’s Kids Safe from Gun Violence, children exposed to shootings suffer a debilitating psychological toll that can lead to long-term physical health problems, decreased academic performance, and diminished future earnings.

While the new data uncategorically brings to light extremely troubling trends, proven solutions exist to address this crisis—solutions the experts at Giffords Law Center are fighting for every day. Policies outlined in our report Confronting the Inevitability Myth: How Data-Driven Policies Save Lives from Suicide, such as universal background checks, extreme risk protection orders, and waiting periods, help save lives from suicide. Evidence-based violence prevention and intervention strategies, like those explored in our report Investing in Intervention: The Critical Role of State-Level Support in Breaking the Cycle of Urban Gun Violence, have shown incredible success in reducing urban gun violence in a relatively short period of time. And laws that limit firearm access by domestic abusers or require safe storage of firearms help protect children from both the physical and psychological toll of gun violence.

The recent months have brought tremendous progress, with renewed attention on the gun violence crisis as the nation demands change and new lifesaving gun laws passing in states—like Florida and Vermont—with historically weak gun laws. This legislative cycle alone, we’ve already doubled the number of states with extreme risk protection order laws—and more are poised to enact this lifesaving legislation. States are also considering and passing laws that would strengthen the background check system, disarm domestic abusers, and provide funding for violence intervention strategies. This change is as meaningful as it is long overdue, and the alarming new data from the CDC provides further evidence that such action could not be more urgent.

Explore the data further at the CDC’s Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System. 

Read Giffords Law Center’s comprehensive reports on gun suicide, urban gun violence, and school shootings on our publications page.

Giffords Law Center’s 25th Anniversary Dinner, honoring Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton

In 1993, the Bay Area legal community came together in the aftermath of unthinkable tragedy with a vow to save lives from gun violence. Twenty-five years and hundreds of state and local gun laws later, our organization and our movement stand stronger than ever before, with the country on the cusp of lasting, lifesaving change.

Join us on June 14 as we gather to recognize courageous leaders, celebrate progress, and remember those we’ve lost.

Visit giffordslawcenter.org/dinner for event details and to learn how to sponsor the 25th Anniversary Dinner.

2018 COURAGEOUS LEADERSHIP AWARD

Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton

An advocate for gun safety for decades, Secretary Clinton will join the Giffords Law Center community to mark our 25th anniversary and speak about the promising future for the movement to save lives from gun violence. Secretary Clinton’s unwavering calls for stronger gun laws from our country’s most prominent stages have inspired a nation and helped propel the long-overdue reflection and conversation about this deadly epidemic we’re engaged in today. Giffords Law Center is honored to recognize her courage and leadership.

2018 ODGERS PRO BONO AWARD

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

Pillsbury has been an invaluable pro bono partner for many years, most recently leading a bold litigation effort to compel the Department of Defense to improve reporting to the background checks system following November’s tragic mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Named for Richard W. “Dick” Odgers (1936–2014), a beloved founder, supporter, and friend to the Law Center, the Odgers Pro Bono Partner Award recognizes firms like Pillsbury for their outstanding efforts supporting gun lifesaving gun laws and helping build a safer America.

Sponsors

The Anniversary Dinner is only possible through the generous support of our sponsors—organizations and individuals dedicated to Giffords Law Center’s mission to save lives from gun violence. To sponsor the 25th Anniversary Dinner, either pledge a sponsorship online or email a completed sponsorship form to our director of development, Natalie Fall at [email protected]. For any questions, please contact Natalie by email or at 415-433-2062 x309.

Learn more about the 25th Anniversary Dinner at giffordslawcenter.org/dinner.

Protecting the Next Generation

In the wake of the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, three weeks ago, the issue of gun violence and its far-reaching impacts on young people has once again been thrust into the spotlight. Our new report, Protecting the Next Generation: Strategies to Keep America’s Kids Safe from Gun Violence, examines the life-altering implications for the children who witness or survive shootings, particularly with regard to their mental health. Yet, the substantial impact of exposure to violence can be mitigated with the adoption of lifesaving gun safety laws that ensure firearms stay out of the hands of minors and those who may be a threat to themselves or others.

The dangerous consequences of the gun violence epidemic cannot be overstated. School shootings may garner the most attention, but in fact they represent a small percentage of tragedies when it comes to the deadly intersection between kids and guns—many more children experience gun violence in other ways, like domestic violence, urban gun violence, unintentional shootings, and suicide. And the impact of gun violence on kids is staggering:

  • Since Columbine alone, more than 150,000 minors have been shot in the United States. Additionally, 150,000 students in at least 170 elementary, middle, and high school have experienced school shootings.
  • In real economic terms, the annual cost of gun violence to children alone is at least $21 billion.
  • Nearly 60% of all high school students report fears of a mass shooting at their school or in their community.
  • Nearly 40% of children exposed to a shooting will develop post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Guns are now the third-leading cause of death for all Americans under age 18.

But, as the brave survivors of the Parkland shooting have pointed out, well-researched, concrete solutions exist. There are a host of policies and programs outlined in this report, designed and proven to reduce gun violence and save lives, like:

  • Prevent Access to Guns: Nearly 1.7 million American kids live in homes where guns are loaded and unlocked. Children find them and, tragically, use them in unintentional shootings, teen suicides, and school shootings. Enacting laws that require safe storage, punish adults who make it easy for children to access guns, and encourage the development of gun safety technology will save kids’ lives.
  • Raise the Minimum Age: The shooters in Newtown and Parkland were too young to buy beer but old enough to purchase AR-15–style rifles. We should strengthen age requirements, beginning by prohibiting anyone under 21 from purchasing semiautomatic rifles.
  • Disarm Dangerous People: The Parkland shooter exhibited warning signs that he was armed and dangerous, even posting online that he wanted to become a school shooter. Extreme risk protection order laws allow law enforcement and family members to petition a court to temporarily disarm people like him and other potentially violent individuals.
  • Invest in Urban Gun Violence Prevention and Intervention Programs: For black families in America, the chance of a male child dying from a gunshot wound is 62% higher than dying in a motor vehicle crash. Strategic intervention programs in urban communities plagued by gun violence have been able to cut gun homicide rates by as much as 50% in as little as two years. States should fund and support these lifesaving programs.

It’s long overdue that our lawmakers stand up to the NRA by considering and enacting policies and programs like these. Our children need protection, and they’re speaking out and demanding congressional action on this issue. We’re proud to fight for gun safety alongside these courageous students and invite you to learn more about how lawmakers can help save a generation of kids from experiencing the terror and horror gun violence wreaks on their lives.

Read our new report to learn how your lawmakers can take action for student safety—Protecting the Next Generation: Strategies to Keep Kids Safe from Gun Violence.