NEW YORK — Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, today released the following statements on the Trump Administration’s “Operation Legend”:
“If President Trump were serious about preventing gun violence, he’d listen to the communities he’s disparaging, invest in proven solutions, and strengthen our gun laws,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Instead, he’s resorting to yet another dangerous political stunt rooted in reckless fear mongering.”
“Operation Legend is a potentially deadly political stunt and American lives are at stake,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “If President Trump truly wanted to help American cities plagued by gun violence, he’d pass common-sense gun laws, work to combat structural racism, and listen to the communities hardest hit by gun violence. Americans haven’t forgotten the administration’s record on gun violence prevention, and we won’t forget this, either.”
“As community leaders have made clear for years, we can’t prevent gun violence without addressing its underlying causes,” said Michael-Sean Spence, director of policy and implementation for Everytown for Gun Safety. “Policymakers should be listening to the communities that know best, investing in life-saving local intervention groups and dismantling the racist policies and systems that created the conditions where public health crises like gun violence thrive.”
News of the administration’s new action follows the deployment of federal agents to Portland, Oregon amid protests over police violence. “Demonstrators have reported that officers dressed in camouflage fatigues have ambushed them and thrown them into vans without telling them why [they] were being arrested or detained,” according to the New York Times. Leaders in the House of Representatives have called for an immediate investigation into the use of federal law enforcement at protests against police brutality.
Chicago Mayor and Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition member Lori Lightfoot, meanwhile, wrote to the president Mond laying out several ways the federal government could help in the fight against gun violence and opposing the deployment of secret federal agents into the city. “What we do not need, and what will certainly make our community less safe is secret, federal agents deployed to Chicago,” she wrote. Additionally, Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition members from Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle, Kansas City, Mo., Washington D.C., and Portland sent a letter to Attorney General Bill Barr and Chad Wolf, acting Homeland Security Secretary, saying the presence of federal agents “has not been requested nor is it acceptable.”
While the president has tweeted that “Federal Government ready, willing and able to help,” it has consistently opposed efforts to improve public safety. The House of Representatives has passed several bipartisan bills that address gun violence, including the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA), the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019, and the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 –– but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has refused to bring any of them to the floor for a vote. President Trump has also repeatedly failed to take action on gun safety, incited violence against those protesting violence by police, and chosen the NRA –– which gave more to his 2016 election efforts than any other outside group –– over the American people.
The pandemic has exacerbated existing circumstances that contribute to America’s alarming rates of gun violence, particularly in Black and brown communities in American cities. As politicians attempt to blame this increase on Black Lives Matter protests and gun safety laws, information debunking these dangerous myths is available here.
Information is also available here on how the pandemic and economic crisis have increased the need to invest in street outreach groups, which have long been on the front lines of gun violence prevention in cities.