Gun Violence Prevention

The Problem

Parkland, Las Vegas, Orlando, Newtown—the list of cities where mass shootings have occurred grows every year. According to a 2016 study published in the American Journal of Medicine, Americans are 25 times more likely to be shot and killed with a gun compared to people in other developed countries. Yet, gun violence and deaths in the U.S. are not just limited to mass shootings; according to CDC data, 60 percent of firearm deaths in the U.S. are suicides, and according to the FBI, in an average month, 50 women are shot to death by intimate partners in the U.S. In fact, there are nearly 13,000 gun homicides a year in the United States, and on an average day, 96 Americans are killed with guns. 

Gun Violence and the LGBTQ Community

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. In 2016, 49 people—most of them LGBTQ and Latinx—were killed in a mass shooting in Orlando. While this incident gained national attention, the LGBTQ community is consistently the target of bias-motivated violence, as evidenced by the FBI’s annual hate crime statistics. Of the 7,106 single-bias incidents reported to the FBI in 2017, 16.5 percent were motivated by anti-LGBTQ bias. 

Broad Support

A February 2018 Quinnipiac University National Poll reported that American voters support stricter gun laws by a margin of 66-31 percent, including a majority of gun owners. The poll showed that universal background checks are supported by 97 percent of American voters, mandatory waiting periods by 83 percent of voters, and an assault weapons ban by 67 percent of American voters. The majority of those polled (75 percent) also believe that Congress must do more to reduce gun violence.

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 supports a number of commonsense gun violence prevention measures, including: 

  • The Bipartisan Background Checks Act (H.R. 8) and The Background Check Expansion Act (S.42). This legislation would require background checks for all gun purchases, and not just those from licensed dealers. This would close the so-called “gun show loophole.” 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 to conduct background checks for longer than the current 3-day limit. The shooter at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC was able to procure his weapon by exploiting this loophole. This legislation was introduced by Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) and was approved by the House of Representatives on February 28, 2019. There is no equivalent measure in the Senate. 
  • The Disarm Hate Act (H.R. 2708; S. 1462) would prevent a person who has been convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime from obtaining a firearm. This legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) and in the Senate by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) on May 14, 2019.

The Human Rights Campaign also supports legislation that would: 

  • Limit access to high-capacity firearms, including assault weapons 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.
  • Expand the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which screens individuals using information from state criminal and mental health records. NICS has prevented 1.5 million people from buying guns, but states are not required to submit criminal and mental health records to the FBI.
  • Limiting the ability of those with a history of domestic abuse to access guns.
  • Repealing the Dickey Amendment, which currently prevents the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from funding research on gun violence. 


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

Last Updated: October 1, 2019