Gun violence is an epidemic in the United States. More than 38,000 Americans die from gun violence each year – an average of 100 a day. The United States has more than four times the number of gun related deaths per 100,000 people than other high-income nations. Gun violence has contributed to national tragedies such as at Columbine, Newtown, Pulse Nightclub, Parkland, and Las Vegas. Gun safety means passing meaningful laws such universal background checks to keep guns and ammunition out of the hands of people who may be dangerous, banning military-style and high capacity weapons, and enforcing the laws on the books.
Attorneys general are often the top law enforcement and/or legal officers in their state, and they take gun safety seriously. Attorneys general bring cases against gun traffickers, advocate for legislation, and hold gun companies accountable for their products.
Below are examples of attorney general actions taken to promote gun safety:
- A coalition of 17 attorneys general defended California’s requirement that gun dealers conduct background checks prior to all ammunition sales and that all ammunition sales occur face-to-face. The coalition argued that states have the right to enact reasonable firearm restrictions that protect public safety and reduce the prevalence of gun violence.
- California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced 12 operations throughout the state where special agents with the California Department of Justice seized dozens of firearms, tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition, ghost guns, assault weapons, and drugs. In all the operations, investigators obtained critical information as a result of ammunition background checks.
- District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine sued gun manufacturer Polymer80 for illegally advertising and selling untraceable firearms to District consumers.
- A coalition of 25 attorneys general called on the Trump Administration to enforce federal laws and stop companies from disseminating dangerous files for 3D-printed gun files on the internet. The files sold on the internet give individuals the ability to manufacture unregistered and untraceable 3D-printed firearms that can be extremely difficult to detect, even with a metal detector.
- Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro provided a legal opinion from the addressing the classification of “80% receivers,” which are most commonly used to make un-serialized “ghost guns.” The opinion was issued to tackle the growing use of untraceable “ghost guns” and to further assist law enforcement officials to protect people and save lives.
- Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill issued a public safety advisory to residents about the state’s Red Flag Law, which allows law enforcement officers to take possession of firearms from people they believe to be dangerous as defined in the statute.
- New York Attorney Genera Letitia James secured convictions of two defendants for their roles in a gun trafficking operation that brought guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition from Pennsylvania and resold them in New York.
- Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson proposed a package of state legislation to combat mass shootings, including limits to magazine capacity and a ban on the sale of assault weapons.
- A coalition of 18 attorneys general defended Vermont’s right to ban large-capacity magazines and protect public safety. The court brief argued that states have the right to enact reasonable firearm restrictions that reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by gun violence.
- A coalition of 21 attorneys general called on Congress to support legislation that extends existing background check requirements on firearm sales to also include ammunition sales.