On Saturday, President Biden signed the Safer Communities Act into law, the first major federal gun safety legislation since the now-expired 1994 assault weapons ban. In response, Legal Defense Fund (LDF) President and Director-Counsel Janai S. Nelson issued the following statement:
“The recent tragedies in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, helped advance decades of work – often personal and emotional – by victims of gun violence to pass common sense gun safety and gun control measures. While the Safer Communities Act is an important first step in addressing our nation’s crisis of gun violence, it must not be the last. The investments in mental health services and intervention programs are important, but we must ensure that as the various provisions of the bill are implemented, they do not result in actions that have been proven to be especially harmful to our communities, such as increased policing and surveillance, discriminatory prosecution, and forfeiture of privacy rights. Furthermore, additional laws are needed to address the wide-ranging threats faced by our communities.
“Black Americans – especially young Black men – are at a disproportionately high risk of dying from gun violence. In addition, white supremacist gun violence overwhelmingly targets the Black community, as we witnessed recently in Buffalo. Indeed, according to the FBI, anti-Black hate crimes rose nearly 40% in 2020, compared to the year before. Many of those crimes involved guns.
“In the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, which struck down New York State’s gun control law, it is clear that our nation needs comprehensive federal gun control legislation that is as massive and powerful as the threat of gun violence itself. Such legislation must address the core threats to our communities, including the ease of access to firearms, the ability of individuals to carry weapons in public spaces, and the unique and specific dangers posed by white supremacists – which both the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice have classified as the greatest domestic terror threat.
“LDF will continue to press Congress, the Biden Administration, and state leaders to develop gun control measures that keep all Americans safe and reduce the presence to guns in our country.”
Founded in 1940, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is the nation’s first civil rights law organization. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Please note that LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights.