NEW YORK – The Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, today filed a federal lawsuit seeking information about firearm suicides, alleging that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has improperly refused to release it. The complaint can be viewed here.
As laid out in the complaint, the data sought by Everytown – which ATF has refused to release despite a Freedom of Information Act request – can help researchers understand and reduce gun suicides. Between 2012 and 2016, an average of more than 21,000 Americans died by firearm suicide each year. Gun suicides take the lives of more Americans than all other methods of suicide combined, and account for more deaths than all homicides. Public health experts have concluded that studying the availability of firearms is critical to understanding, and ultimately reducing, suicide mortality rates in the United States.
In denying Everytown’s Freedom of Information Act request, the ATF cited a federal appropriations rider known as the Tiahrt Rider that was strongly supported by the National Rifle Association and that has been used to deny the public access to information about the sources and movement of guns used in crimes and suicides.
STATEMENT FROM ERIC TIRSCHWELL, LITIGATION DIRECTOR FOR EVERYTOWN FOR GUN SAFETY:
“We need the best information available to work on policies to prevent American gun violence, and that includes suicide. The data we’re seeking is a potentially important missing piece for public health experts studying gun suicides, and we’ll do what it takes to make this important data public.”
The lawsuit was filed by the Everytown for Gun Safety litigation team, along with Lawrence Lustberg of the law firm Gibbons PC.
The filing of the lawsuit comes at a time when Everytown has expanded its litigation team, which is dedicated to defending and ensuring implementation of gun safety laws; challenging dangerous gun lobby-sponsored laws; and representing individuals injured or killed by irresponsible gun industry actions.
The most recent additions to the team include William Taylor, formerly an assistant attorney general in the litigation bureau at the New York Attorney General’s Office, as senior appellate counsel for Second Amendment litigation; Molly Thomas-Jensen, previously of the Office of the Public Advocate for the City of New York, as counsel for affirmative litigation; and James (“Jed”) Miller, previously of O’Melveny & Myers LLP, as counsel for affirmative litigation. More information about each of the attorneys on the team is available on the team’s web page.