After a Deadly Armed Mob Stormed the U.S. Capitol in an Attempted Coup, Everytown Releases Policy Platform to Prohibit Guns at Capitol Buildings, Sensitive Government Facilities, Polling Locations and Vote Counting Facilities, and Protests
This Platform Follows a Year of Armed Extremists Targeting and Killing People, Threatening our Right to Peacefully Protest, and Attacking our Democracy
NEW YORK –– Today, Everytown and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, unveiled a new policy plan designed to eliminate armed intimidation from politics by prohibiting guns at Capitol buildings and grounds, sensitive government facilities, polling locations, vote counting locations, and protests on public property. These recommendations, which are laid out in full here, come as an estimated two-thirds of Americans are concerned about violent domestic extremism after a year of armed extremists killing people, intimidating peaceful protestors, storming Capitol buildings, and –– most recently –– attempting an armed coup at the behest of President Donald Trump. In response, bills to address armed intimidation have already passed in Michigan, and been introduced in Washington, Virginia, and Vermont.
Everytown rolled out this plan today on a press call about the threat that armed intimidation poses to our democracy featuring John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety; Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ); Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel; and Mayor Levar Stoney of Richmond, Virginia. A full recording of the call is available upon request to [email protected].
“We cannot continue to allow far-right extremists, who have been stirred up by the president and the gun lobby, to hold our democracy hostage by threatening voters and elected officials with deadly force,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “ The plan we are laying out today sets clear rules so that people who can’t get their way at the ballot box can’t use terror as an alternative.”
“Armed extremism is gun violence,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “Throughout this past year, dangerous insurrectionists and vigilantes –– inflamed by the gun lobby’s propaganda and inspired by the president’s rhetoric –– have reaped destruction and death in communities across the country. To protect both human life and our democracy, we must stop this dangerous spiral by prohibiting guns from protests, voting sites, Capitols, and all other government buildings immediately.”
“Our democracy cannot stay strong and survive if it allows the exchange of ideas to give way to armed intimidation,” said Rep. Andy Kim. “Last week’s attack, and the threats we’ve seen since, have brought us to a crossroads; we can take action and protect our democratic institutions, or we can allow inaction to threaten our democracy for generations to come. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues from across the country on this issue, and will continue to be a voice for change in Washington.”
“In recent weeks, Michigan’s Capitol building on several occasions has been surrounded by a sea of protesters armed to the teeth with high-powered rifles and body armor,” said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. “This scene is an unfortunate reminder of an increasingly violent and divisive time in our country’s history. While the Michigan State Capitol Commission took a small step to ban the open carry of firearms inside our Capitol building, the concealed carry of firearms is still permitted – and firearms in any fashion are allowed on the grounds outside the halls where our Legislature convenes. We must make sensible gun reform, if not simply for the safety of our residents and public servants in Michigan, but for the future of our democracy, which must not be subjected to fear tactics and intimidation.”
“It’s time to call out armed extremism for what it really is: A threat not only to the brick and mortar institutions of our government and the people who serve, but to democracy itself,” said City of Richmond Mayor Levar M. Stoney. “That threat does not only manifest when buildings get ransacked and people get hurt, but it also persists through the insidious spread of fear and intimidation at the point of a gun, wielded by misguided Americans who believe the only way to get their way is to replace right with might, and overthrow the justice inherent in a representative democracy with mob justice. We cannot let that prevail.”
Everytown is releasing this plan after a year in which armed extremism repeatedly threatened our lives and our democracy. Due in large part to rhetoric from President Trump and decades of fear mongering from gun lobby groups like the NRA, far right intimidation, hate, and violence has grown unchecked in recent years, leading to 85 instances of armed protesters and incidents involving guns at protests in state capitals from May through December 2020.
Fully addressing the dangers that armed extremism poses to the United States will require a whole host of strong gun policies and other measures, including addressing hate in our country. But the following policies –– released by Everytown today –– would be a strong first step towards protecting our democracy from armed intimidation:
- Prohibiting firearms at sensitive government facilities, including state Capitols, Capitol grounds, and polling and vote-counting facilities;
- Prohibiting firearms at protests and demonstrations held on public property;
- Holding armed extremists accountable by enforcing laws against unlawful carrying and armed intimidation, with a special focus on the armed extremists and white supremacists who have abridged civil rights or sought to intimidate democratic institutions.
Examples of armed extremist violence: Throughout 2020, so-called “Patriot” militia groups and the ascendant boogaloo movement used guns as tools of intimidation and violence in increasingly open ways –– including taking advantage of weak state gun laws to brandish weapons at anti-government protests, to intimidate peaceful protests for racial justice, and in plans and actions to kill.
- At the United States Capitol on January 6, members of the pro-Trump mob brought bombs, guns, molotov cocktails and more in an insurrection that cost several lives and damaged the Capitol.
- In Virginia last January, heavily armed protesters descended on the city to decry changes to Virginia’s gun laws. If not for the work of the FBI in disrupting an accelerationist plot by white supremacists who were building untraceable ghost guns, the Richmond rally could have been a mass-casualty event.
- In the spring and summer of 2020, gun rights groups and other right-wing political groups used COVID-19 lockdown protests and protests spurred by the police killing of George Floyd as opportunities to openly display military-style firearms to incite fear, suppress civil discourse, and threaten public safety.
- In Michigan, armed militia men stormed the state Capitol building to brandish their weapons and intimidate lawmakers during their legislative session. The FBI later arrested and charged affiliated extremists who were plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
For more information on the ties between President Trump, the gun lobby, and this extremist movement, please read Everytown’s recently released report about America’s toxic mix of guns and far-right extremism.