More than 300 Gun Violence Survivors Ask Joe Biden to Prioritize Gun Violence Prevention

January 26, 2021

More than 1,454 days to go in the Administration means an estimated 145,400 Americans could die without action

WASHINGTON -- Over 300 families and survivors directly impacted by gun violence from 29 states have released an open letter to the Biden Administration calling on the President to prioritize gun violence prevention in the early days of the new administration.

The letter, organized by Guns Down America and Newtown Action Alliance, follows President Biden’s inaugural address, where he announced his administration would focus on “containing a raging virus,” “confronting growing inequality,” addressing “the sting of systemic racism,” and tackling our “climate in crisis.”

Unfortunately, President Biden is inheriting another major national crisis: rising gun violence across the country. In the first 26 days of 2021, over 3,000 Americans have already died from gun violence, including 290 deaths and 502 injuries since President Biden’s inauguration. At this rate, in the 1,454 days that are left in President Biden’s first term, an estimated 145,400 Americans could die from gun violence.

In the letter, families and survivors devastated by gun violence have come together to tell President Biden that he cannot address the impacts of Covid-19 or eradicate systemic racism, without working to reduce gun violence in the early days of his administration.

“We are suffering from two deadly diseases in our country, Covid-19 and gun violence. President Biden has promised to make gun violence prevention a priority. We survivors must demand all our elected officials to address this public health issue,” said Sandy Phillips, whose daughter Jessie was killed in the 2012 shooting in Aurora, CO.

“Sadly, we are only weeks away from February 14th and the reality that 3 years ago my beautiful daughter Jaime and 16 others were murdered in Parkland…. We now have a Congress, a Senate, and a President who have committed to do something about gun violence. I intend to hold them to that commitment,” said Fred Guttenberg.

“On behalf of Street Outreach communities across the country, particularly in Chicago, we appreciate the position of President Biden’s administration and join the call for long term structural support. This support is badly needed to address the senseless, daily violence that robs families and communities of precious life. President Biden and violence reduction professionals agree that addressing root cause issues, such as increased employment opportunities, fair funding for schools and prison reform, are just as important as common sense gun reforms, such as limiting the ownership of assault rifles in places like Chicago. We must come together to tackle this problem in both of these important ways. We, as violence reduction professionals, are excited to see these policies that will save lives become a reality, and we stand ready to support President Biden and his administration any way we can.” said Chris Patterson, Senior Director of Programs & Policy at the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago.

“I remember Joe Biden’s visit to Orlando after the shooting at Pulse, his promise that together, we would end America’s gun violence epidemic. Now is the time to make good on that promise. To honor the ones we’ve lost with action and keep more families from having to bury the ones they love. Now is the time for bold, unapologetic action to put a stop to senseless gun violence in America,” said Brandon Wolf, who survived the shooting at Pulse Nightclub in 2016.

“I am incredibly proud of the survivors who have come together to call on the Biden Administration to recognize that gun violence prevention is a crisis that will need to be prioritized if we are going to truly tackle systemic racism and inequality in our nation,” said Igor Volsky, Founder of Guns Down America. “Joe Biden ran on a progressive gun reform platform. Now he has a chance to prove that he meant it.”

“Since my neighbor killed 26 children and educators with weapons of war in Sandy Hook Elementary School, gun violence has surged in our towns and cities across America. The federal inaction on this public health crisis is unacceptable. Each day, over 100 additional American families lose their loved ones and hundreds more are physically and mentally injured by gun violence. The majority of Americans who voted for Joe Biden for President supported his bold policies to end gun violence and now it’s time for President Biden to make it a top priority for his administration,” said Po Murray, Chairwoman, Newtown Action Alliance & the Newtown Action Alliance Foundation

Homicides have increased by double digits in more than a dozen major cities in 2020. Childhood deaths have risen by 40 percent in 2020 and teenage deaths are up by 37 percent. This past year, the United States experienced 612 mass shootings, a 47 percent increase from 2019. Numerous data points indicate that suicides are on the rise across the country as a growing number of Americans are taking their lives amidst the economic and social distress of Covid-19.

The letter calls on President Biden to integrate gun violence into every agency’s mission, crackdown on social media companies that enable hate and violence, strengthen our nation’s federal gun laws, expand the coalition and build a new playbook for gun violence prevention.

View the letter here.