Everytown for Gun Safety has Been Shining a Light on the the Threat of Armed Extremism for Years
One year ago, insurrectionists, encouraged by far right politicians and their false claims of election fraud, stormed our nation’s Capitol building. A year later, the same hate-fueled rhetoric, far-right extremism, and armed demonstrations remain a persistent threat. Since then, Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, have continued the work to combat armed extremism and keep guns out of the hands of extremists. Too often, armed intimidation is normalized in the United States. But let’s be clear: this is not normal.
Yesterday, Everytown and Moms Demand Action hosted a press conference call with the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League to discuss the state of armed extremism in the one year since the Capitol insurrection on January 6, 2021. The speakers also discussed what their organizations are doing to address armed extremism and the importance of prioritizing this public safety crisis. If you are interested in getting the recording from the press call, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
In August, Everytown for Gun Safety, in partnership with the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), released a new report documenting hundreds of armed demonstrations that have taken place across the United States since the start of 2020. Today, updated data through November 2021 was released showing a new total of at least 610 armed demonstrations nationwide which were six and a half times more likely to be violent or destructive compared to other demonstrations. The updated data also shows:
- Pro-Trump Demonstrations Continue Post-Presidency and Are More Likely to Be Armed: Pro-Trump demonstrations were reported every month since the start of 2021. These demonstrations were disproportionately armed.
- Armed Pro-Trump Demonstrations Disproportionately Occur on Legislative Grounds: Between January 2020 and November 2021, 47.3% of armed pro-Trump demonstrations (53 of 112) took place at legislative grounds, compared to 12.2% of all other armed demonstrations (61 of 501).
- Overall, Armed Demonstrations Were More Likely To Take Place At Legislative Grounds in 2021 Compared to 2020, and These Demonstrations Were More Likely To Be Violent or Destructive: While armed demonstrations at legislative grounds represent a subset of all armed demonstrations, events like the January 6 insurrection underscore the dangers of armed activity at these locations.
- Armed Demonstrations Continue to Be Driven by Right-Wing Actors, and These Actors Were Even More Likely to Be Involved in 2021: Members of right-wing groups were identified in at least 45.8% of all armed demonstrations in 2021 (60 of 131), up from over 35.7% in 2020. Overall, the top three named actors present at armed demonstrations since 2020 are the Boogaloo Boys and their affiliates, the Three Percenters and their associated groups, and the Proud Boys.
Armed extremism didn’t start with the insurrection at the Capitol, but the event itself was the result of the conspiracy theories and violent rhetoric circulated by extremists and validated by some of our own lawmakers. Now, a year later, many of those same dangerous circumstances remain as the country enters yet another contentious election cycle. Armed extremism is an imminent threat — and it’s time for our country to take it seriously. Every western democracy has extremists, the difference in the United States is that the extremists have easy access to guns.
Without the strong gun laws in Washington D.C., the Capitol insurrection could have been worse and more deadly. It’s critical that states that allow permitless or open carry or do not require a background check on all gun sales strengthen their laws to prevent armed extremism. Lawmakers at all levels should prioritize addressing armed extremism as they go into a new legislative session in 2022. Additional recommendations for lawmakers to address armed demonstrations are available here.
If you are interested in speaking to one of our experts about armed extremism, please don’t hesitate to reach out.