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NAACP Opposes Gun Homicide and Calls for it to Rightfully be Seen as a Public Health Epidemic

WHEREAS, over 30,000 lives are claimed by gun violence annually in the United States; and

WHEREAS, African-Americans suffer disproportionately from gun violence in the United States; and

WHEREAS, African-Americans are 14 times more likely to be killed with guns than whites, and among young black men, gun violence is the leading cause of death; and

WHEREAS among whites, the predominant cause of firearm-related deaths is suicide; among African Americans 80% of firearm-related death is homicide; and

WHEREAS, every day 93 people die from gunshot injuries, seven of whom are children, while more than 180 people are victims of nonfatal gunshot injuries every day, 40 of whom are children or teens; and

WHEREAS, in addition to death and injury, gun violence creates a sense of a lack of safety and exposes people and communities to traumatic events, which include but are not limited to: witnessing gun violence, being fearful to go or be outside because of gun violence, fear of being near areas or activities which often escalate to violence, having had to hide due to gun violence or violent activity in the neighborhood, and/or having lost a relative or close friend to gun violence; and

WHEREAS, the known impacts of chronic and complex trauma include low self-regulation, poor impulse control, mental health problems, cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes, and substance abuse; and

WHEREAS, Congress has blocked the passage of sensible gun legislation to protect the American public and our children by significantly curtailing the proliferation of, and access to, illegal guns in America. This includes bills that would create a requirement to report lost and stolen guns; reauthorize an assault weapons and high capacity magazine ban; close the gun-show and fire-sale loopholes; and repeal restrictions on state and local law enforcement's access to trace gun data; and

WHEREAS, after the passage of the groundbreaking Brady Bill in 1993, the U.S. Congress has consistently cut and blocked funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an agency that supports research into the issues that contribute to homicide and gun violence. Congress has also instituted structural restrictions that prevent the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Fire Arms and Explosives (ATF) from effectively and comprehensively carrying out its role of oversight of the firearms industry; and

WHEREAS, Public Law 109-92, The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act passed in 2005, prevents firearms manufacturers and dealers from being held liable when crimes have been committed with their products. PL 109-92 effectively prevents victims of firearms violence in the United States from successfully suing manufacturers and dealers for negligence and or contributory negligence. It closes an avenue by which victims can seek redress for suffering caused by the murders of loved ones, and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Department of Justice's report, Vision 21, called for reform to the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and identified African-American boys and men, and their families, as among the victims of crime who are under-served, facing barriers to services, denial of services, and/or denial of funding, and

WHEREAS, while America has laws that protect our children from products, activities, or situations that may cause them harm or injury, and make it illegal for them to purchase substances such as alcohol and tobacco, we have not done enough to protect children and teens from access to guns.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ("NAACP") reaffirms its commitment to fighting violence stated in these resolutions:

  • 2013 – Anti-Violence Social Media Campaign
  • 2010 – Making Communities Smart and Safe through Violence Reduction
  • 2010 – Gun Violence Prevention and Safety at Public Events
  • 2009 – National Day of Nonviolence


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP at the national, state, and local levels will work to have gun violence recognized and defined as a Public Health Epidemic and National Health Crisis. The NAACP will work to ensure that elected officials address this crisis by enacting legislation and promote policies that protect the rights of all Americans to live in safe environments free from gun violence and allocating sufficient funding for education, awareness and research; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP will promote sensible gun violence prevention legislation including, but not limited to, legislation on the federal, state and local level, which:

  • Requires universal background checks on all gun sales and transfers;
  • Bans military-style, semi-automatic assault guns and military high-capacity ammunition clips;
  • Enacts tough new criminal penalties for straw purchasers and gun traffickers;
  • Bans suspects on the terror watch list from purchasing firearms;
  • Overturns the current prohibition and allows the Center for Disease Control to research gun violence as a major public health issue;
  • Maintains current law requiring background checks and permits for gun silencers;
  • Allows states to maintain and enforce their own "concealed carry" laws;
  • Requires microstamping or ballistic fingerprinting of all new firearms and ammunition sold in the U.S.;
  • Repeals all state "stand your ground" laws;
  • Encourages local jurisdictions to utilize their "buyer power" to create incentives for firearm manufacturers to employ "countermarketing" strategies to ensure that their retailers are using all available procedures to prevent illegal firearms diversion.


BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the NAACP urges the reform of the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) to ensure equal access to benefits without discrimination to families in communities with higher than average rates of homicide, and designate funding to provide community-based mental health services and supports to families who have lost loved ones to gun violence and homicide.

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