NEW YORK – Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, today released the following statements amid reports that the Trump administration is planning to send federal agents to Chicago and is considering sending agents to New York City and other cities:
“This dangerous political stunt isn’t fooling anyone,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “If President Trump really cared about improving public safety, he’d send the heavily armed and inadequately trained secret police home, invest in programs to interrupt violence, and do something to strengthen our nation’s gun laws.”
“After blocking common-sense gun laws and ignoring the advice of public health experts on gun violence and COVID-19, the Trump administration is once again putting people at risk,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “Sending troops into American cities doesn’t make residents safer — particularly in Black communities and other communities of color, where the militarization of police has only put residents in more danger. This is a new low for this administration, which has done nothing to keep families safe from gun violence.”
“Across this city, people are working amid unprecedented challenges to reduce gun violence,” said Valerie Burgest, a Chicago-based volunteer with Illinois Moms Demand Action whose son, Craig Williams, was fatally shot in 2013. “But rather than boost support for effective, community-led violence prevention groups, the administration is taking a dangerous step that creates new and serious risks. Chicagoans deserve better, but we’ll keep working to make this city safer no matter what obstacles we face.”
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 Monday 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.