Washington, D.C. – Democratic Attorneys General from 18 states across the country begin National Gun Violence Awareness Month today by recommitting to work with gun violence survivors as part of their ongoing efforts to reduce gun violence. Connecticut AG William Tong and Maryland AG Brian Frosh moderated a roundtable conversation today with nine members of the Everytown Survivor Network and other gun violence survivors to discuss the ways we can all work together to create a future free from gun violence, to learn from the powerful experience of survivors on this issue, and to highlight the critical role state Attorneys General play in keeping communities safe.
The convening comes just ahead of National Gun Violence Awareness Day (June 7) and Wear Orange weekend (June 8-9), which asks everyone who believes we can do more to save American lives from gun violence to do one simple thing: Wear Orange.
“In the years since the shootings at Parkland, Las Vegas, Orlando and Newtown, we have seen a wave of activism among advocates, survivors and citizens inspiring Americans across the country to act and fight for change,” said Connecticut AG William Tong. “The demand for a future safe from gun violence has been heard.”
“While states like Connecticut have been at the forefront of addressing gun violence by passing some of the nation’s strictest gun laws, we need to do more,” AG Tong continued. “All levels of government – municipal, state and federal – need to work together to end the national epidemic of gun violence.”
Representing states with some of the strongest gun laws and the lowest rates of gun violence, Democratic Attorneys General are continuing to drive the important conversation around gun violence prevention. Although the powers of each individual state Attorney General varies, as the chief legal officers in their states, Democratic Attorneys General can and do use the legal tools available to protect good gun laws, challenge dangerous policies that put our families and communities at risk, and advocate for solutions to the gun violence that kills 100 Americans every day.
“Gun violence is plaguing our communities and ripping families apart, and I was honored to spend time this morning speaking with survivors who are dedicated partners in fighting this epidemic,” Pennsylvania AG Shapiro said. “As Pennsylvania’s Attorney General, I’m focused on protecting both the right of a mom in rural PA to protect her family and the right of a teen in Philadelphia to not get shot walking down the street. I’m grateful to my colleague Attorneys General and DAGA for their work to combat this scourge.”
The coalition of Democratic Attorneys General in attendance included California AG Xavier Becerra, Colorado AG Phil Weiser, District of Columbia AG Karl Racine, Connecticut AG William Tong, Delaware AG Kathy Jennings, Illinois AG Kwame Raoul, Iowa AG Tom Miller, Maryland AG Brian Frosh, Massachusetts AG Maura Healy, Michigan AG Dana Nessel, Minnesota AG Keith Ellison, New York AG Tish James, North Carolina AG Josh Stein, Oregon AG Ellen Rosenblum, Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro, Virginia AG Mark Herring, Washington AG Bob Ferguson.
Survivors representing different stories of the reality of gun violence in America joined the roundtable today to share their experience and to learn more about the leadership of Democratic Attorneys General on gun violence prevention. These survivors included Fred Guttenberg, Jane Dougherty, Connie Grieshaber, Dave Hoover, Tom Mauser, Kelly Murphy, Coni Sanders, Karina Vargas, and DeAndra Yates.
“The powerful voices of the survivors at this table reaffirms the importance of crafting, passing, and enforcing laws that help end the gun violence epidemic in this country,” noted Maryland AG Brian Frosh.
“I am grateful to this group of survivors and impacted families for the deep courage and resilience they have displayed by turning their pain and anguish into action,” said New York AG Letitia James. “While I am proud that New York has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, too many New Yorkers and Americans still die every year from gun violence– and inaction is simply not an option. This is a national problem that demands a national response and this coalition of AGs will continue to use every tool at our disposal to protect our communities from the scourge of gun violence.”
Coming out of the roundtable, the coalition of participating Democratic Attorneys General promised to take lessons learned back to their home states and to show their commitment to the important fight for a safer future. This includes five key pillars of work:
- Continuing to engage with gun violence survivors, gun owners, local leaders, and other key advocates in their states on the ways we can work together and educating leaders on the role state Attorneys General play in keeping our communities safe.
- Supporting background checks as a critical part of gun ownership with the goal of keeping guns out of the hands of felons and domestic abusers.
- Working with gun owners to improve policies and practices on gun storage to prevent unintentional shootings, especially by children.
- Collaborating with suicide prevention organizations to improve access and information in their states. Nearly two-thirds of gun deaths are suicides, and access to a gun increases the risk of death by suicide by three times.
- Engaging with law enforcement, school leaders, parents, and others in the educational community to ensure our schools have the resources and technologies needed to protect students and teachers and keep American classrooms safe.
For more examples of Democratic Attorneys General leadership on gun violence prevention and multi-state actions, check out this backgrounder linked here.
Additional Statements from Participating Democratic Attorneys General:
District of Columbia AG Karl Racine, DAGA Co-Chair
“As a nation, we are experiencing a gun violence epidemic that kills thousands of Americans each year, injures thousands more, and traumatizes whole communities. As the chief law enforcement officers in our states, Attorneys General must use every tool we have to stop gun violence and get illegal guns off the streets. Those tools include traditional approaches like policing and prosecution, but they can also include new and innovative efforts to prevent violence from happening in the first place. In the District of Columbia, our new Cure the Streets program employs proven public health strategies to treat violence like a disease and stop it from spreading. This community-based program has already produced positive early results. But in order to truly break cycles of violence and build a better future, Attorneys General and leaders around the country must prioritize health and support services for families and children who have experienced gun violence and address the stress and suffering it causes in too many communities.”
Massachusetts AG Maura Healey, DAGA Executive Committee Member
“In Massachusetts, where we have one of the lowest rates of gun violence in the country, we know that strong gun laws save lives,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. “My office is committed to defending our laws and partnering with students, survivors of violence, and law enforcement on the national reforms we need. As we remember those we have lost to gun violence, let us act to protect those we can still keep safe.”
California AG Xavier Becerra, DAGA Executive Committee Member
“From Sandy Hook to San Bernardino, our families have been ravaged by senseless gun violence. California will continue enacting progressive gun safety laws and taking on the gun lobby every step of the way.”
Delaware AG Kathy Jennings
“Gun violence isn’t someone else’s problem. It belongs to all of us, and it’s on all of us to fix it. At a time when we are so often reminded of what divides us, the sad truth is that the prevalence of gun violence often unites us. Whether you are a student who lives in fear of mass shooters, a parent raising a child in a neighborhood plagued with gun violence, or someone who has a friend or loved one who took his or her own life with a gun, we owe it to you to reject the status quo and to restore common sense to our gun laws.”
Iowa AG Tom Miller
“Many Iowans own guns for hunting and self-protection and I support responsible gun ownership. However, I believe the majority of Iowans favor reasonable gun control legislation to help prevent the tragic mass shootings our nation has experienced.”
Michigan AG Dana Nessel
“Every single day, the lives of 100 Americans are lost because of gun violence. And each year, nearly 1,200 Michiganders are shot and killed with a firearm,” Nessel said. “Gun safety shouldn’t be a partisan issue. It’s not a race issue, it’s not a gender issue, it’s not a religion issue, and it’s not an age issue. It’s an issue of violence and it’s time we update our laws to make certain we keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals, keeping our residents and children safe in the process.”
Minnesota AG Keith Ellison
“Americans have a right to live and not be shot. No one can deny the outrageous scourge of gun violence that plagues our country today. As the attorney general of the state of Minnesota, I pledge to act to stop these tragedies in any way and every way I can.”
North Carolina AG Josh Stein
“Too many people are dying of gun violence in our nation. It’s past time for a comprehensive background check system so we can keep guns out of the wrong hands.”
Virginia AG Mark Herring
“Despite a seemingly unending series of tragedies and heartbreak, partisan obstruction continues to keep us from taking meaningful steps to truly curb gun violence. Our nation is forcing entire generations of children to grow up with the trauma of mass shootings and the linger fear that this could happen to them at school, at their place of worship, at the movies, or even on the playground or the sidewalk. Life doesn’t have to be this way, and it shouldn’t be this way. In Virginia, our upcoming special session gives us a real opportunity to finally take action. Each measure should get a full and fair vote on the floor of the House of Delegates and the Virginia Senate, because Virginians deserve to know where everyone stands.”
Washington AG Bob Ferguson
“I’m grateful to the survivors and the participants who joined us today to share the ways that gun violence has affected their lives and loved ones. As Attorney General of Washington state, I have worked with our state legislature to ban 3D-printable ghost guns, and have proposed legislation to ban the sale of high capacity magazines and assault weapons. I will continue to use every tool at my disposal to make progress on this issue. We owe it to survivors and to our children to do better.”
About the Democratic Attorneys General Association
The Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA) is the only committee solely dedicated to electing and supporting Democratic state Attorneys General. Democratic Attorneys General currently hold 27 seats and represent the majority of Americans and the states responsible for the majority of the U.S. GDP. This is the most diverse group of Democratic Attorneys General in history. For more information or to get involved, visit www.democraticags.org. Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Instagram!