The U.S. stands alone among wealthy countries in glorifying guns, and the price we pay is staggering: in 2020 alone, a record 45,222 Americans died by guns, and hundreds of thousands more are injured every year. We own 35% of the world’s firearms, yet have only 4% of the world’s population. And all those guns get used: unlike every other high-income country, our rates of gun death have sharply increased over the past decade. We’re experiencing an epidemic of gun terror with little end in sight, thanks to MAGA legislators willing to allow gun lobbyists to dictate our laws.
What you need to know
- Gun laws work. Background checks, minimum ages to buy guns, banning large–capacity magazines: each of these have been shown to reduce gun death rates. Time after time, when basic reforms are implemented, fewer people die.
- Gun reform is popular. Supported by 90% of voters, universal background checks may be the most popular proposal that’s never made it into law. It’s just common sense – before you sell someone a deadly weapon, you make sure they’re legally qualified to buy it. But MAGA Republicans continue to block basic guidelines that would make our communities safer.
- It’s not your imagination: mass shootings are getting worse. Not a single week goes by without a mass shooting in America, and it’s not uncommon to have more than one in the same day. Nowhere has been safe: classrooms, movie theaters, grocery stores have all been targets, and Americans have become afraid to just go about their daily lives due to the endless bloodshed in our public spaces.
- This is a fight we can win. Thanks to Joe Biden and strong advocacy from Democratic leaders, in 2022 Congress passed new regulations on gun sales and ownership for the first time in decades. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is now law – it closes ‘the boyfriend loophole’ that allows unmarried domestic abusers to keep their weapons, expands background checks for buyers under 21, and other changes. It’s not even close to enough, but it’s a great start, and it shows that progress is possible if we keep up the pressure on our elected officials.
- It may get a whole lot worse soon thanks to SCOTUS. States across the country have passed common sense laws to prevent firearms from being toted around like it’s the Wild West. After all, normal people don’t want or need to carry a deadly weapon on them while picking up pet food. But thanks to Clarence Thomas and our Republican Supreme Court, states are now being restricted from protecting their own people through basic gun safety requirements. This makes it even more urgent that we close gun-purchasing loopholes and expand background checks.
It’s estimated that every single American will know someone affected by gun violence in our lifetimes. Guns have become a chilling part of everyday American life: we invite weapons—including weapons of war like assault rifles—into what should be peaceful public spaces. This culture has developed in large part because elected officials funded by the NRA have gutted our gun laws, and blocked gun violence research and prevention. Many states offer quick and easy access to guns, and some require no training, licensing, or registration before allowing their citizens to carry a concealed handgun.
As always, it’s the most vulnerable in our communities who suffer the most.
In 2020, America hit a terrifying milestone: gun violence is now the leading cause of death for kids aged 0-19. Every day 44 children are shot in the U.S., and 12 die.
Read that again: every day, 44 children are shot in the U.S., and 12 die.
It’s hard to imagine that a country would allow its children to be slaughtered without any kind of response, but that’s where we’ve been in the two decades since 15 children were killed in Columbine, CO.
U.S. women are 28x more likely to be killed with a gun than in any other high-income country. If there’s a gun in the home, the risk of homicide at the hands of an abusive partner skyrockets, but MAGA Republicans continue to block laws that get guns out of the hands of dangerous abusers.
And the ongoing damage done by guns in historically-underfunded communities is unmistakable and damning. Everytown for Gun Safety research highlights the disproportionate impact: Black people “experience nearly 10 times the gun homicides, 18 times the gun assault injuries, and 3 times the fatal police shootings of white people in the U.S.”
What’s behind the scenes
How did we get here? More than any other industry, gunmakers have relied on an endless stream of cash to Republicans willing to trade lives for power in order to avoid regulation. And our patchwork of laws has made it easy for guns to travel.
- Donations, donations, donations. Republican lawmakers have been swimming in blood money from the NRA and other fanatic gun groups for decades. 16 GOP Senators have each received more than $1 million in campaign donations, and in exchange have blamed everything BUT guns for gun violence. Ted Cruz, one of the biggest recipients of gun money, recently blamed school shootings on buildings having too many doors.
- A few states are spreading death to the whole country via the ‘iron pipeline’. Gun fanatics love to point to gun violence in cities with stricter gun laws to “disprove” the idea that gun laws work. What they don’t admit is that the majority of guns in those cities come from neighboring states with lax regulations – a 2009 investigation found that just ten states provide almost half the trafficked guns found at crime scenes nationwide. They’re proving our point about the importance of Federal guidelines.
- How do gun extremists block progress? Throw money at lobbyists. Gun profiteers spent a record $15.8 million on lobbying in 2021, over 5x the amount spent by gun reform advocates. And all that lobbying has worked to block not just gun reform, but basic gun research: the Dickey Amendment, passed in 1996 and not fully repealed until 2020, blocked the CDC from even studying the effects of guns on public health.
- The NRA is just the tip of the iceberg. After decades as the face of the “all the guns, all the time” movement, a series of corruption scandals and declining donations caused the NRA to declare bankruptcy. But it’s no cause for celebration: the even more extreme National Shooting Sports Foundation – headquartered in Newtown, CT, home of the Sandy Hook shooting that killed 20 small children and six adults – has stepped up to take their place, focused on protecting access to assault rifles like the AR-15 that was used at Sandy Hook. They’ve called for states to turn over lists of anyone suffering from mental illness to the FBI.
Why it’s important
Until we break the stranglehold that gun extremists hold on the U.S., the deadly damage will continue. A generation of children will be scarred by seemingly never-ending school shootings, and the lockdown drills they suffer through to prepare for them. Domestic violence victims will face death rates 12x higher than in other high-income countries. Guns will continue to be used to intimidate in our towns by right-wing terrorists forcing a political agenda. And we’ll all continue to pay the cost, including economically: Everytown for Gun Safety estimates that gun violence costs our economy a staggering $280 billion a year. We have to break the cycle of under-regulated gun access, and close the wide loopholes in our existing gun laws.
What we’re saying
- Our kids are living in terror because Republican politicians are choosing the gun lobby over lives. Bill O’Reilly once called mass shootings “the price of freedom,” but our children are the ones being forced to pay that price in blood. The reality they live in is heartbreaking and enraging: constant active shooter lockdowns, toddlers hiding in dumpsters, even kids smearing themselves in the blood of their classmates to play dead in order to survive. This is the monstrous toll the right demands from our youngest and most vulnerable.
- Guns are being used to dominate our personal and political lives. It has to stop. More and more, we’re seeing open-carry MAGA extremists with assault weapons terrorizing our public spaces, creating a culture of intimidation and paranoia. The Republican vision for our streets is one of fear and violence, everyone armed and on high alert – but the rest of us just want the freedom to go about our lives without being threatened by gun-toting radicals. Do voters really want a country where it’s normal to sling a rifle over your shoulder before you pick up your kids from school or run to the grocery store?
- Our job is to make it impossible for NRA-owned MAGA politicians to go back to business as usual on guns. We’ve spent decades watching as mass shootings have skyrocketed without a response from our elected officials. But thanks to Joe Biden and the tireless work of advocates, the tide is turning in favor of gun reform. Even some of the most NRA-cash-heavy members of Congress are afraid to talk to their own constituents, who are furious at inaction in the face of a never-ending stream of mass death. We need to keep up the pressure.
- Federal guidelines will save lives. Basic background checks have blocked over 3 million illegal, dangerous gun sales in the past 20 years. But half of the states still permit easy, and in some cases totally untracked, access to guns via online sales and gun shows, allowing guns into the hands of felons, abusers, gun traffickers, and others ineligible to purchase firearms. Basic Federal guidelines and universal background checks can slow the flood, and every day that those laws are blocked by MAGA Republicans in Congress more Americans die.
- It’s time to stop protecting gun manufacturers. No other device in American history has been allowed to cause as much destruction, with so little regulation, as an AR-15 rifle. Republicans have focused on protecting gun manufacturers at voters’ expense, but it’s time to end the shielding of gun makers and sellers from any responsibility for their product. Let them face the same civil liability as any other company.
- SCOTUS has been hijacked by MAGA Republicans, and doesn’t represent the American electorate. But there’s something we can do right now. By electing more Democrats in Congress this fall and taking the divided Senate, we can continue the legislative progress we made in 2022 on gun reform and pass desperately-needed Federal guidelines.
- Gun violence is not inevitable. Don’t allow the Republican party, bought and paid for by the NRA, to talk about this as though mass shootings just happen. It is a choice.
What else can we do?
- Support our partner organizations like Moms Demand Action/Everytown for Gun Safety in your state. Find your local chapter here.
- Write a letter to your local papers in support of gun reform. We have helpful templates and how-tos.
- Learn the specific gun laws in your state.
- Keep fighting to elect candidates who support expanded background checks, raising the minimum gun purchase age to 21, and closing gun show and online purchase loopholes. Sign up to Give No Ground!
- END THE FILIBUSTER. EXPAND SCOTUS.