Giffords Law Center Files Suit to Uncover Extent of the NRA’s Influence Over Trump Administration Gun Policy, Response to Recent Mass Shootings

WASHINGTON, D.C. Following the tragic mass shootings in Sutherland Springs, Texas and Las Vegas, Nevada, the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence — the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut, Captain Mark Kelly — filed a lawsuit after the Trump administration refused to disclose documents related to the NRA’s influence over the Trump administration’s gun safety policy.

The suit was filed against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) after the agency failed to respond to multiple Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests seeking to reveal the gun lobby’s role in directing the Trump Administration’s legislative agenda, influencing its regulatory efforts, and shaping its public response to recent mass shootings.

“The Trump administration appears willing to let the National Rifle Association dictate its federal gun safety policy, which includes remaining silent on how to stem our nation’s gun violence epidemic,” said Robyn Thomas, Executive Director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “Protecting the safety of Americans should be the top priority of any president. Unfortunately, gun lobby profits seem to be more important to President Trump.”

There have been 34 mass shootings since the horrific violence in Las Vegas that claimed the lives of 58 people and injured hundreds more. Despite this devastating loss of life, the Trump administration, at the NRA’s behest, has taken numerous policy actions that actually increase the threat of gun violence.

“The Trump administration has chosen to fight transparency rather than reveal how it is prioritizing the gun lobby over public safety.” said Democracy Forward Policy and Strategy Director Corey Ciorciari. Giffords Law Center is being represented on a pro bono basis by Democracy Forward Foundation.

Reports have already detailed the pattern of close coordination between the Washington gun lobby and the Trump administration. In February 2017, a leaked ATF white paper, dated Inauguration Day (January 20, 2017), urged a series of proposals drawn straight from the NRA’s agenda. When President Trump nominated Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch in January 2017, the NRA and administration walked in lockstep during the confirmation process, and today, the Senate will hold a hearing on a Trump nominee for the federal bench who explicitly pledged his financial, intellectual, and political support to the NRA. And following the Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs tragedies, the White House parroted NRA talking points and refused to address calls for gun safety reforms.

One of the president’s first actions upon taking office was to sign a bill that rolls back a regulation making it harder for people with mental illness to buy firearms – an action that conflicts with the statement he made on Monday, when he blamed the mass shooting in Texas on a “metal health problem.” Other NRA-backed policies enacted by the Trump administration include easing regulations on the use of lead bullets, and cutting the number of fugitives barred from purchasing guns.

The FOIA requests submitted to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) sought:

  • Records related to Trump administration policies on concealed carry reciprocity, gun silencers, bump stocks, and assault weapon exports.
  • Evidence Donald Trump Jr. improperly lobbied on behalf of gun manufacturing companies.
  • Communications between gun lobbying groups, including the NRA, and senior administration officials immediately following the Las Vegas tragedy; and
  • Attempts by the NRA, in coordination with the ATF, to actually review bump stock regulations.

Read the full lawsuit here:

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For nearly 25 years, the legal experts at Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence have been fighting for a safer America by researching, drafting, and defending the laws, policies, and programs proven to save lives from gun violence.

This press release was published by the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 

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