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Everytown, Moms Demand Action: 2020’s Increase in Murders Shows Urgent Need for Action on Gun Safety


Gun Violence Prevention Advocates Available for Interviews – Can Discuss Causes and Potential Responses

NEW YORK – Everytown for Gun Safety, and Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown’s grassroots networks, today released the following statements about new FBI data showing 2020 saw the largest one-year increase in murders ever recorded, with the percentage of murders committed with a gun the highest proportion recorded as well. 

“This jump in murders is just the latest proof that we are experiencing a gun violence epidemic within the Covid pandemic,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “This death spiral will continue until we stem the flow of illegal guns and invest in proven intervention programs.”

“This is a crisis that demands action, and the public is watching to see how our elected officials respond,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “We can turn these numbers around by strengthening our gun laws and investing in proven, community-based interventions, but there is no time to waste.” 

Experts will need time to understand all of the social, economic, and cultural impacts of Covid-19 on American life, health, and safety. Yet already we know that lack of access to income, suitable housing, and other critical life needs are key drivers of gun violence, and decades of policy decisions and underinvestment in Black and Latino communities have created areas of concentrated disadvantage, where public health crises — including both Covid-19 and gun violence — thrive. Against this backdrop, the pandemic brought the elimination and alteration of key social services, including major challenges for violence intervention programs. The prevalence of illegal guns has a relationship to firearm homicide, strengthening the case for action to keep guns out of the illegal market, especially with the record increase in gun sales.

Nearly a third of all guns recovered after a crime by law enforcement have been brought across state lines, most often flowing out of states with weak gun laws and into states with strong laws. President Joe Biden’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) can carry out and expand on the gun trafficking strategies announced in July, including the focus on identifying gun trafficking channels, multi-jurisdictional strike forces, and shutting down rogue gun dealers. While federal law requires background checks on gun sales from licensed gun dealers, it does not require them on sales by unlicensed sellers, including by strangers who meet online or at gun shows. In states that have not addressed this gap, a private seller on the secondary market need not require a background check nor keep a record of the sale. Without federal action, this patchwork of state laws makes it easy for people prohibited from owning guns to access them nonetheless — and for traffickers to divert guns into illegal markets.

Today’s FBI numbers underscore the need for the Senate to pass gun safety legislation like a bill to strengthen background checks, the Break the Cycle of Violence Act, and more. These are among the six gun violence prevention priorities for the 117th Congress laid out in an Everytown memo released last December.

Leaders from Everytown and Moms Demand Action, policy experts and survivors of gun violence are available for interviews on today’s FBI numbers.