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Governors must respond to panic gun buying!
We are urging you to enact public safety measures that address the risks posed by an influx of firearms into many of our homes amid physical distancing and confinement, especially in light of the dramatic spikes in firearm and ammunition sales.
Multiple studies have found that firearms in the home significantly increase the risk of domestic violence, suicides, and unintentional shootings. Research shows that domestic violence is five times more likely to escalate to murder when there is a gun in the home. Researchers have found that an accessible gun in the home more than triples the risk of suicide, with men six times more likely to die by firearm suicide than women. One study found that more than 80% of all child firearm suicides involved a gun belonging to their family member.
Therefore, we are asking that you use your emergency powers to:
• Publicly educate everyone about the risks posed by surging gun sales and the panic-buying of firearms and ammunition, and about the importance of safe storage, at your COVID-19 press conferences.
• Issue executive orders extending the time that law enforcement has to conduct background checks.
• Temporarily close gun stores along with other closures, which must also be deemed “non-essential” during this crisis. If stores are open, ensure that they are following the strictest social-distancing guidelines in all of their operations and that they provide every purchaser with a gun safety fact sheet.
• Take action to prohibit the sale of “ghost gun” parts and kits in order to lower the risk of exponential sales of unregulated and unserialized gun parts.
• Classify community-based counselors, social workers, and other anti-violence workers as "essential" in light of social distancing's heavy economic and social impact on Black and Brown urban neighborhoods.
During a national crisis, governments have a responsibility to do everything in their power to keep their people healthy and safe. We hope you will take urgent action to forestall a potential spike in gun deaths and injuries, including firearm suicides, unintentional shootings, and domestic violence, at this unprecedented and stressful moment. This type of public safety response is not only proper, but necessary.
Why is this important?
Being safe at home has never been more important. Unfortunately, fear has motivated the panic buying of firearms, particularly by first-time gun owners. But research shows that bringing a gun into a home makes the home less safe, and this is particularly true in the current moment when domestic violence is increasing.
Social distancing is intensifying feelings of isolation and patterns of abuse among people trapped in place. Sharply rising call volumes to mental health and domestic violence hotlines indicate that we are poised for an outbreak of suicide and domestic violence injuries and deaths as a side-effect of the COVID-19 health emergency.
There are clear steps that governors can take to reduce the risk of gun injury or death. Urge your governor to address panic gun buying and reduce the risk of gun violence as part of their efforts to secure the health and safety of everyone during the current COVID-19 health crisis.