Here’s our set of policy demands for the Biden-Harris administration to develop a national, comprehensive plan, using executive action and funding, to combat the increasing prevalence of gun violence in America. In order to effectively address the national public health crisis quickly, March For Our Lives is calling on President Joe Biden to appoint a Director of Gun Violence Prevention and act on his campaign promise to dedicate approximately $1 billion to fund evidence-based community intervention programming to tackle urban gun violence in 40 cities across the country in his first 100 days.
We recognize that President Joe Biden and Vice President Harris have been vocal about the need to address gun violence as a national public health crisis and are ready to work alongside the Biden-Harris administration to reduce gun violence. We’re also asking for the Administration to focus on using executive action and increased funding at the federal and local level to ensure a focus on broad action, while centering communities and on the ground resources and intervention.
Support Our Demands
For years, Congress has failed to pass substantial changes to our nation’s gun laws and thousands of Americans have died because of it.
Over the last year alone, 41,000 lives were taken by gun violence in America — the highest since 1981. Rates of firearm death are rising among children and teens; firearms are now a leading cause of death among youth and the most common cause of death for young men. A disproportionate amount of these deaths occur in Black and Brown communities, highlighting once again that gun violence prevention is a racial justice issue.
“For years, Congress has failed to pass substantial changes to our nation’s gun laws, and thousands of Americans have died because of it. It has been three years since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that sparked our movement, yet countless Americans have suffered in communities due to daily gun violence since then. It should not take another mass shooting to provoke a response. Young people have started a movement to fearlessly fight against the NRA and corrupt politicians, and they’ve delivered the Senate and the White House to politicians ready to save lives. It’s time to get to work, and young people demand a seat at the table – it is time for a national plan to stop the violence.” said Alexis Confer, March For Our Lives Executive Director.
“We have set forth the policy for the White House to immediately act to save lives. Time and time again, we have seen Congress fail to pass the sweeping reform needed to drastically cut down violence in communities across the country. March For Our Lives is committed to working with the Biden-Harris Administration to ensure campaign promises are enacted including executive action and funding to reduce gun violence in America,” said Max Markham, March For Our Lives Policy Director. “Our generation is not interested in thoughts and prayers; we look forward to the President implementing foundational gun violence prevention policies.”
“Gun violence is costing our communities too much to not take urgent action. It is now the #1 cause of death for Black youth. CJAF has joined with our partners on the ground to demand that the Biden-Harris White House invest in saving lives,” said Greg Jackson, National Advocacy Director of Community Justice Action Fund. “Whether it’s homicides, domestic violence, suicides, or other forms of violence, our communities cannot afford to pay for this public health crisis that continues to destroy Black and Latinx communities. We are excited to see our partners at MFOL advocating alongside us to invest in community-based solutions that meet the needs of survivors and communities most impacted by gun violence.”
On the 2020 Election
In the 2020 presidential election, gun violence prevention was a driving issue at the ballot box for young voters. Approximately 55% of young Americans voted for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to restore leadership in the White House and bring meaningful action on issues that disproportionately impact the youth. Young voters of color, in particular, made the difference in key battleground states that delivered important victories for the Biden-Harris campaign. In order to restore youth faith in government, the Biden-Harris administration must address the unique concerns of young voters starting with a comprehensive plan to combat everyday gun violence ravaging communities nationwide, especially communities of color. This includes near-universal background checks, closing the boyfriend loophole, and increasing oversight of arms exports by shifting regulatory authority back to the State Department and ensuring Congressional signoff.
Much like the COVID-19 pandemic, and the HIV pandemic before it, the gun violence epidemic requires a unified, national plan with a public health lens. President Biden must appoint a Director of Gun Violence Prevention and dedicate at least $1 billion in funding to combat gun violence, rebuilding our research and data collection infrastructure while supporting community-based violence intervention programming. March For Our Lives is urging the Biden-Harris Administration to lead the federal response by meeting the following demands:
The directive to address gun violence must be prioritized and operationalized from the very top of government. President Biden must appoint a Director of Gun Violence Prevention, a senior, cabinet-adjacent staffer who reports directly to the President in order to operationalize agencies, negotiate funding, and lead a task force empaneled to study and recommend legislative, executive, and budgetary reforms.
- The Director of GVP should have cabinet-level authority and should reflect the understanding that gun violence is a public health crisis, disproportionately impacting our most vulnerable populations.
- Candidates who have been impacted by gun violence and who bring an intersectional approach should be considered.
- The Director must impanel a task force including agency and bureau heads, and work to empower federal agencies that have been weakened by the gun lobby, such as the Department of Justice (DOJ), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
- Any task force or committee chaired by the Director must dedicate at least 25% of its membership to youth voice as well as center BIPOC community leaders, in order to adequately reflect the diversity of communities in the United States that experience gun violence.
- A top priority for the Director must be to ensure the integrity of our government’s data and research capabilities related to evidence-based practices, incorporating a survivor-centered approach ensuring implementation of the Biden-Harris policy platform.
- Additionally, the Director must ensure President Biden and Vice President Harris make good on their commitments to specific executive actions within the first 100 days, including:
- Near-universal background checks, requiring anyone who sells 5 or more guns per year to run a background check on all gun sales.
- Mandate and enforce license revocation for gun manufacturers and dealers who break the law.
- Closing the boyfriend loophole to prevent those convicted of domestic abuse from purchasing firearms.
- Reversal of President Trump’s dangerous change to the definition of “fugitive from justice.”
- Hold the gun industry accountable by directing the IRS to open an investigation into the tax-exempt nonprofit status of the NRA, and direct the FEC to investigate whether the NRA has broken campaign finance laws.
Increase oversight of arms exports by shifting regulatory authority back to the State Department and/or ensure Congressional signoff.
Your budget tells your story; to address a record level of gun violence, we need a record level of funding. No national plan to combat gun violence can be successful without a dedicated source of funding. Then-Candidate Biden made a commitment to dedicate approximately $1 billion to fund evidence-based community intervention programming to tackle urban gun violence in 40 cities across the country over eight years. We support this initiative, but recognizing political constraints, we propose the following short and long-term funding solutions:
- Declare gun violence a national public health emergency, with the short-term goal of unlocking at least $1 billion in funding under the Stafford Act to be distributed to states upon a Governor’s request, to be used for community intervention programming and data collection with a public health lens.
- The Stafford Act declaration should trigger other public health emergency response authorities, including Section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, allowing the HHS Secretary to exercise waiver authority.
- Utilize discretionary agency grant funding and earmark additional funding for states to go towards evidence-based and effective community programming such as Cure Violence and other focused deterrence and violence intervention models, in addition to DOJ grants for firearm trace data to better understand and disrupt illegal gun markets in urban environments.
- Funding here must be properly allocated at the state-level to community-based organizations, to ensure that it addresses the root causes of gun violence, strengthening the fabric of communities while restoring trust and well-being. Additional programming centered around hospitals and other place-based interventions that center equity should be prioritized.
- Peg funding for federal firearm injury research to the firearm mortality burden, to ensure a minimum $37 million increase in annual funding focused on children and adolescents, where firearm injuries are currently the second-leading cause of death. Gun violence remains one of the least-researched in relation to its mortality rate.
- Ensure that President Biden’s budget restores funding for student safety and school-based programs (including funding for counseling, therapy, and other trauma-informed approaches) and improves the submission of records into criminal background checks.
Broaden the reach of the NIH and CDC research to include a national, large-scale survey of public health, including firearms violence questions related to ownership and violence, and additionally instruct agencies to track law enforcement violence and police interactions to better understand the scope and nature of disparities.
“The status quo is not acceptable for any of us and is costing the lives of Black and Brown folks, lives that can be saved. Young people, especially young people of color, for far too long have been shut out of the conversations that require an intersectional and intergenerational perspective and approach,” said Daud Mumin, March For Our Lives Board Member. “Communities can and should be the architects of their own solutions, and March For Our Lives will work tirelessly to harness the power of community-based organizing and policymaking to move the ball forward at the federal level.”