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Minnesota Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Respond to Shooting of Savannah Ryan Williams, a Transgender Woman in Minneapolis

December 11, 2023

MINNEAPOLIS – The Minnesota chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots network, released the following statements in response to the November 29 shooting of Savannah Ryan Williams, a Cuban and Indigenous transgender woman who was shot and killed in south Minneapolis. The shooter has been charged with second-degree-murder. 

Last Thursday, relatives of Williams, supporters and leaders of the Queer Legislative Caucus gathered at the state Capitol to mourn and call for stronger protections for all people, including trans women of color like Williams, who are disproportionately targets of violence.Those in attendance described Williams as “fierce” and “full of life.” 

This is not an isolated incident – this shooting marked the second attack on a transgender woman in the same area of Minneapolis, and the third violent attack on the local LGBTQ+ community this year. In August, a mass shooting at a music venue appeared to target Minneapolis’ queer community, leaving one person dead and six wounded.  

“Savannah Ryan Williams should be alive today.” said Becky George, Chief Movement Building Officer at Everytown for Gun Safety. “As people gathered to remember her life cut short, it served as a painful reminder of the disproportionate impact of gun violence on the trans community. Hatred armed with a gun can be lethal and we need gun safety solutions that meaningfully protect transgender people.”

“Our hearts go out to Savannah’s loved ones during this immensely difficult time. As a community, we are coming together to mourn a joyous and beautiful life tragically cut short with the continual understanding that thoughts and prayers are not enough. We must take action,” said Libby Holden, a volunteer with the Minnesota chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Transgender women, especially transgender women of color, are disproportionately targeted by acts of hate-fueled gun violence. We demand our lawmakers at all levels prioritize measures that will protect them and disarm hate.”

Transgender people are 2.5 times as likely to be victims of violence as cisgender people. From 2017 to 2022, there were 225 homicides of transgender individuals in America. 73% were with a gun. More than one in 10 gun homicides of transgender and gender-nonconforming people were of trans Latina women. So far this year, at least 30 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been killed in the United States and Puerto Rico. Experts believe that this number is likely an undercount as many homicides go unreported or victims are misgendered. American Indian/Alaska Native women also face disproportionately high rates of gun violence, with the highest rates of intimate partner firearm homicide out of any groups in the United States. 

This tragic trend isn’t happening in a vacuum. Anti-LGBTQ+ political attacks & extremism fuel real-life violence. This hateful rhetoric has real-life consequences on the LGBTQ+ community. And when that kind of hate is paired with unfettered access to firearms, the consequences become even more deadly. This year alone, 421 anti-trans bills have been filed in states across the country. To keep trans and gender-nonconforming people safe, lawmakers at every level must take action to prioritize legislation that protects individuals from intimate partner violence.

Minnesota has some strong gun laws, but there is a great need for additional progress. Recently, gun-sense legislators in Minnesota have made progress by passing life-saving legislation, including passing laws requiring background checks for all gun sales, an Extreme Risk law, and laws blocking access for domestic abusers under restraining orders. 

While Minnesota has the ninth-lowest rate of gun deaths in the country, in an average year, 497 Minnesotans die and 811 are wounded by guns – and 73% of gun deaths are by firearm suicide. An average of 43 children and teens die by guns every year in the state, 49% of which are suicides and 45% of which are homicides. 

Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund has tracked homicides of transgender and gender non-conforming people in the U.S. since 2017. In addition to breaking down gun violence to the state- and county level, the platform includes a database of known trans or gender-nonconforming homicide victims in the United States. 

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