Gun Violence Prevention

The volatile combination of a lack of strong laws to prevent gun violence and animosity towards the LGBTQ community increases the dangers faced by LGBTQ people. The Human Rights Campaign supports a number of commonsense gun violence prevention measures to address this issue.

The Problem

Gun violence has taken an enormous toll on the LGBTQ community. From the Pulse shooting in Orlando in 2016 to youth suicides and anti-trans violence across the country, our community has suffered terribly as a result of our nation’s inadequate laws to stop gun violence. 

According to a 2019 study published in Preventative Medicine, Americans are 25 times more likely to be killed with a gun compared to people in other developed countries. Transgender and gender non-conforming people have been uniquely impacted by gun violence. Since 2013, nearly two-thirds of fatal violence toward transgender and gender-nonconforming people involved a gun. The overwhelming majority of those victims were black women under the age of 30.

According to CDC data, nearly two-thirds of firearm deaths in the U.S. are suicides. For those using a gun, 90 percent of suicide attempts are fatal, while 4 percent of attempts not involving a gun are fatal. Data shows that this has particular impact for the transgender and adolescent members of the LGBTQ community. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 40% of transgender people report having attempted suicide in their lifetime, nearly nine times the national average. Furthermore, one-third of LGBTQ youth report having contemplated suicide, nearly three times the national average.

Intimate partner violence is also a major concern for the LGBTQ community, with particular vulnerability in the transgender and youth communities. In an average month, 53 women are shot to death by intimate partners in the U.S. More than half (54%) of transgender people responding to the 2015 Survey experienced some form of intimate partner violence, including acts involving coercive control and physical harm, and LGBTQ youth experience dating violence at twice the rate of their non-LGBTQ peers. 

Commonsense Gun Violence Prevention Measures

There is no single solution to stopping gun violence in the United States. Efforts to curb gun violence by other countries shows that a comprehensive approach must be taken in order to effectively reduce and prevent gun violence. The Human Rights Campaign has supported a number of commonsense gun violence prevention measures, including:

  • The Bipartisan Background Checks Act (H.R. 8 and S. 42). This legislation would require background checks for all gun purchases, and not just those from licensed dealers. H.R. 8 passed the House on February 27, 2019, but the Senate has yet to take up S. 42, which was introduced by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) on January 8, 2019.
  • The Enhanced Background Checks Act (H.R. 1112), which would allow the FBI additional time to conduct background checks that cannot be completed instantly. The shooter at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC was able to procure his weapon by exploiting a gap in the current law that allows gun sales to proceed if a background check cannot be completed within 3 business days. . This legislation was introduced by Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) and was approved by the House of Representatives on February 28, 2019. An equivalent measure has not yet been introduced in the Senate. 

The Human Rights Campaign also supports legislation that would:

  • Limit access to assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and “bump stocks,” which are attachments for semi-automatic weapons that increase firing speed, effectively simulating the abilities of a fully automatic weapon or machine gun.
  • Limit the ability of those with a history of domestic abuse to access guns. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (H.R. 1585/S. 2843) includes several provisions.
  • Appropriate at least $25 million for the Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health to conduct research on gun violence.

For more information, please contact Read about other Federal Legislation pertinent to the LGBTQ community here.

Last Updated: March 10, 2020

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