Ahead of planned armed demonstrations in Juneau, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers are available to discuss the deadly nexus between far-right extremism and lax gun laws. The armed demonstrations come in the wake of – and are spurred on by – a violent, pro-Trump mob, many armed, storming and damaging the United States Capitol Building in an act of violent insurrection on Jan. 6.
Due in large part to rhetoric from President Trump and decades of fear mongering from gun lobby groups like the NRA, extreme right-wing intimidation and violence has been on the rise in recent years, leading to at least 85 instances of armed intimidation and incidents involving guns at protests in state capitals from May through December 2020, alone. A report by Everytown in September warned of this violence and examined the toxic mix of conspiracy theories, the common denominator of guns, and far-right extremism in America.
Fully addressing the dangers that armed extremism poses to the United States will require a whole host of strong gun policies and other measures, including addressing hate in our country. Today, Everytown for Gun Safety unveiled a new policy plan designed to eliminate armed intimidation from politics by prohibiting guns at Capitol buildings and grounds, sensitive government facilities, polling locations, vote counting locations, and protests on public property.
Last week, state Rep. David Eastman was present at events that preceded armed insurrection and bragged that he had met “maybe 40-50 Alaskans who came to protest the vote.” He did not enter the Capitol. FBI officials have already warned of subsequent armed demonstrations at the Capitol in Juneau as President-elect Biden’s inauguration approaches.
What to know about the lax Alaska gun laws which make these armed demonstrations even more dangerous:
- Open Carry:
- Open carry, which allows for carrying firearms visibly in public, is a dangerous policy exploited by white supremacists and extremists, like the violent insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol, to intimidate their opponents. In Alaska, there are no restrictions on open carry. Research shows that the violent rhetoric accompanying open carry has been steadily increasing by extremists. More information about open carry laws is available here.
- Permitless Carry
- Permitless carry legislation, which strips states of essential permitting and training standards for carrying concealed guns in public, allows people to carry a loaded firearm in public without a background check. Permitless carry allows extremists and white supremacists with criminal histories to evade background checks and safeguards to responsible gun ownership. Currently, Alaska doesn’t prohibit people from carrying a concealed gun on the basis that they pose a danger or threaten public safety — which is opposed by over 80 percent of gun owners, non-gun owners, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.
- Background Check Loopholes
- Currently in Alaska, anyone – white supremacists and extremists with violent histories alike – can purchase firearms online or from a gun show with no background check and no questions asked. In 2018 alone, there were 1,552 posts in Alaska on Armslist.com for gun sales that would not require a background check. And furthermore, between March and July of 2020, nearly 300,000 gun sales nationally from licensed dealers could have proceeded without a completed background check due to the Charleston Loophole — more than in all of 2019.
What to know about gun violence in Alaska:
- Alaska has the highest rate of gun deaths in the country. In the state, on average, 173 people are shot and killed with a gun every year. In the last decade, gun deaths have increased 20% in Alaska, compared to an 18% increase nationwide.
- An average of 48 people in Alaska die by gun homicide every year. And, Black people in Alaska are five times as likely to die by gun homicide as white people.
Statistics about gun violence in Alaska are available here, and Everytown’s Gun Law Navigator – which shows how Alaska gun laws compare to those of other states – is available here.
If you have questions, or to request an interview with a volunteer from Alaska Moms Demand Action and/or Students Demand Action on the deadly nexus between extremism and lax gun laws, please don’t hesitate to reach out.