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Everytown, Moms Demand Action, Virginia Survivor of Gun Violence Respond to Trump’s Call to ‘LIBERATE VIRGINIA’

April 17, 2020

New York –– Today, Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action, a part of Everytown, released the following statements in response to President Donald Trump’s tweet, saying, “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!” He also tweeted similar statements about Minnesota and Michigan, calling for an end to critical stay-at-home orders that are protecting the lives of Americans during the pandemic. The tweets come one day after gun extremists flocked to the Michigan Capitol to intimidate lawmakers in the midst of a pandemic.

“To liberate Virginia is to allow families in the commonwealth to live without the threat of gun violence, which has devastated far too many Virginia families,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “The five new gun laws passed by Virginia’s General Assembly and signed by Governor Northam last Friday will save lives. President Trump can learn from Virginia’s lawmakers what it looks like when elected officials prioritize saving lives over pithy tweets.” 

“This type of rhetoric is incredibly dangerous for black and brown communities in particular, who are disproportionately affected by both gun violence and coronavirus,” said Brenda Moss, a member of the Everytown Survivor Network and volunteer with Virginia Moms Demand Action, whose son, Shawn, was shot and killed on August 26th, 2014 in Lynchburg, VA. “The president would do well to remember that the last time Virginia tried to ‘liberate’ was in 1861, and he should start trying to save lives rather than divide the country.” 
Earlier this week, Governor Ralph Northam signed five gun safety bills, including legislation to require background checks on all gun sales and extreme risk legislation, into law. Everytown and the Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action have fought for common-sense gun safety laws in the Commonwealth for years.

In the past year alone:

  • This past summer, volunteers attended the special session on gun violence called after the mass shooting in Virginia Beach, only to see session adjourn after 90 minutes without taking a single vote
  • Lawmakers’ failure to take action on gun violence drove Moms Demand Action and Everytown to launch a statewide campaign to flip the General Assembly to a gun sense majority. Everytown for Gun Safety Action and Everytown for Gun Safety Victory Fund spent more than $2.5 million — the largest outside investment in Virginia’s 2020 elections
  • Volunteers with Moms Demand Action knocked on tens of thousands of doors and made tens of thousands of calls to elect gun sense champions. Overall, Everytown outspent the NRA by more than eight-to-one, and Moms Demand Action out-organized the NRA on the ground.
  • On the first day of the 2020 legislative session, the Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action held their annual advocacy day and had more than 70 meetings with lawmakers to show their support. 
  • In January, as gun extremists descended on Richmond, Virginia to intimidate lawmakers, Moms Demand Action held a phone bank to support lawmakers who have stood up for common-sense gun safety policies. More than 100 volunteers with Moms Demand Action from Virginia and 23 states made nearly 3,000 calls that day alone.

Every year, 656 people die by gun suicide in Virginia. In a moment of crisis, access to a gun can be the difference between life and death. About 90 percent of suicide attempts using a gun end in death, compared to four percent of suicide attempts that do not involve a firearm. Under an extreme risk law, law enforcement will be able to petition a court for an extreme risk protection order to temporarily remove guns from a person in crisis.

An Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund investigation uncovered nearly 1.2 million ads in 2018 alone on the website Armslist for firearm sales that would not legally require a background check. Those ads included 43,558 ads for guns for sale in Virginia.

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