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Everytown Statement on President Biden and Vice President Harris’s Remarks after Mass Shooting in Atlanta

March 19, 2021

Everytown for Gun Safety released the following statement today in response to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’s remarks in Atlanta, Georgia after the mass shooting on Tuesday in which nine people were shot, including eight fatally. Seven of those fatally shot were women – six of whom were Asian. 

“President Biden and Vice President Harris’s remarks this afternoon were powerful, and we must continue to address how unfettered access to guns fuels hate inspired violence,” said John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety. “These shootings come amidst a rise in violence against the AAPI community, fueled by xenophobia and racism and enabled by guns, and we must fight all three. President Biden is leading the strongest gun safety administration in history, and his leadership is critical if we are going to disarm hate and keep people in the United States safe.”

In an average year, more than 10,300 hate crimes in the United States involve a gun – more than 28 every day. Over the past two weeks, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed three key pieces of gun safety legislation: H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which would require background checks on all gun sales; H.R. 1446, the Enhanced Background Checks Act, which would address the Charleston loophole by giving law enforcement additional time to complete background checks; and H.R. 1620, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which would close the deadly dating partner and stalker loopholes. Now the Senate must take action on background checks to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

Earlier this year, Everytown released a report on how the Biden-Harris administration can address gun violence through executive action. Recommendations include: 

  • Keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them by strengthening the background check system.
  • Prioritize solutions to the city gun violence devastating communities every day.
  • Heal a traumatized country by making schools safe, confronting armed hate and extremism, preventing suicide, and centering and supporting survivors of gun violence.
  • Launch a major firearm data project and protect the public with modern gun technology.

Georgia has some of the weakest gun laws in the country. The state does not currently require a background check on all gun sales, nor does it empower loved ones and law enforcement to temporarily remove access to firearms from those who are a danger to themselves or others. SB 179, introduced by Georgia State Senator Michelle Au, would require background checks on all gun sales, and HB 309, introduced by Rep. Matthew Wilson, would create an Extreme Risk law in Georgia. Furthermore, Rep. Bee Nguyen and Sen. Tonya Anderson have introduced legislation (HB 505/SB 254) that would repeal Georgia’s dangerous, racist ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a rise in violence against the AAPI community at large, and particularly against AAPI women. And violence against women, fueled by misogyny, racism, and fetishization, and made more deadly by easy access to guns, has plagued the United States for generations. 

The shootings occurred in the context of a rising tide of violence against the AAPI community, and misogyny and gun violence are often linked. Additional information is below:

The Pandemic and Hate Against the AAPI Community:

  • Stop AAPI Hate received nearly 3,800 reports of anti-Asian hate incidents from March 2020 to February 2021. Police departments in the 16 largest cities in the United States reported a nearly 150% increase in hate crimes targeting Asian Americans in 2020, and nationally, Asian American women were more than twice as likely to be targeted in hate incidents as Asian American men. 
  • Even before these disturbing trends appeared, we had already seen the deadly impact of former President Donald Trump’s racism and misogyny. Fueled by racism against Latino communities, the El Paso shooter’s white supremacist manifesto could have been taken straight from the former president’s Twitter feed. 
  • Any time the former president, NRA leadership, or right-wing media extremists repeat racist tropes about the pandemic – as the former president did Tuesday night – the entire AAPI community is placed in even more danger.

Misogyny and Gun Violence:

  • The horrific public attacks we saw are sadly just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to violence against women. Every month in the U.S., an average of 53 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner.
  • A Mother Jones investigation in 2019 found “a stark pattern of misogyny and domestic violence among many attackers” and “a strong overlap between toxic masculinity and public mass shootings.”
  • By a more than 2:1 margin, racially-motivated attacks against Asian Americans during the pandemic targeted Asian-American women.
  • According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “as a driver to radicalization, misogyny works alongside racism, antisemitism and perceptions of waning civil rights in the face of increasing equality.”
  • While there are many reasons for this kind of misogyny and violence, weak gun laws are a key factor in the risks women in the U.S. face. And while some of this is going to take a long time to address at its core, strengthening our gun laws at the state and federal levels, like passing background checks legislation, and reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act can go a long way toward protecting women right now.

Fetishization of Asian Women and Violence:

  • According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), “while there are segments of Asian communities that enjoy privileges that other communities of color are not afforded, the current structures of power and privilege negatively and dangerously impact the experiences of Asian women in unique ways. The bodies of Asian women are exoticized and hypersexualized, and the perceived submissiveness of some Asian cultures is glamourized and erotized. This fetishization reduces Asian women to an inaccurate and detrimental stereotype, and creates staggering rates of violence.”
  • According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 19.6% of Asian or Pacific Islander women in the United States reported that they have been the victim of of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

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