NEW YORK –– Today, Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, responded to President-elect Joe Biden’s decision to nominate Judge Merrick Garland to serve as attorney general and lead the Department of Justice (DOJ) –– a department that will be instrumental in combating both gun violence and the armed far-right extremism that was on display at the Capitol last week. Judge Garland will lead a DOJ team that includes Lisa Monaco as deputy attorney general, Vanita Gupta as associate attorney general, and Kristen Clarke as assistant attorney general for civil rights.
“No part of the Biden administration can do more to save lives from gun violence than the Department of Justice, and Judge Merrick Garland is a perfect leader to make that goal a reality,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “His experience prosecuting right-wing extremists like the Oklahoma City bomber is invaluable right now, and his lifetime of public service has prepared him exceptionally well to address America’s two intertwining crises: COVID-19 and gun violence.”
“Simply put, Judge Merrick Garland will save lives and protect our democracy as attorney general,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “His announced team –– including Lisa Monaco, Vanita Gupta, and Kristen Clarke –– is chock full of gun sense champions, and we look forward to standing behind them as they take on the NRA, combat our deadly gun violence epidemic, and root out the armed, far-right extremists who are attacking our nation.”
The Department of Justice will be critical for addressing gun violence in America, including armed extremism from mobs like the one that stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempted coup last week. As laid out in our executive actions memo, the DOJ –– through its offices, divisions and bureaus –– can investigate and prosecute armed white supremacist violence, pursue police accountability, strengthen our background check system by shutting down the marketplace for ghost guns, enforce the law on who is engaged in the business of selling firearms and addressing the Charleston loophole, prioritize solutions to city gun violence by funding the community-based inventions we know work and stemming the flow of crime guns into our cities by reforming how guns are sold at federal dealers, and more.
According to The Trace, Judge Garland was “a key figure in a 2000 case involving the National Rifle Association” during which the NRA claimed that the National Instant Background Check System was a step towards a national gun registry. After a dismissal by a lower court, the NRA appealed the case to Judge Garland’s D.C. Circuit Court, which upheld the ruling and wrote: “We see no basis for concluding that auditing the [National Instant Criminal Background Check System] would suddenly produce constitutional violations. Nor does the NRA identify any specific features of the auditing process that implicate constitutionally protected rights.” Later, the NRA unsurprisingly opposed his nomination to the Supreme Court.
His team is full of gun sense champions as well, with Lisa Monaco acting as President Barack Obama’s homeland security adviser as his administration pushed for gun safety laws; Vanita Gupta leading on police reform, advocating for gun safety laws, and speaking out against armed extremists; and Kristen Clarke advocating for background checks on all gun sales.
Judge Garland and his team now join other key gun sense champions nominated or appointed to President-elect Biden’s administration, including leaders in key departments for addressing gun violence like Dr. Vivek Murthy, CA Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Denis McDonough, Dr. Miguel Cardona, and Ambassador Susan Rice.