Padilla, Lee Call for National Public Health Emergency Declaration on Gun Violence￼
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.-13) sent a letter urging U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to declare a national health emergency on gun violence. A public health emergency declaration would trigger an immediate and systematic response to fully address the nation’s gun violence crisis.
Senator Padilla and Congresswoman Lee recently held a roundtable discussion in Oakland to meet with local elected officials, community leaders, and constituents to address the spike in gun violence in the region and explore possible federal solutions.
“Gun violence is currently the leading cause of premature death in the United States,” the lawmakers wrote. “The U.S. represents about 4% of the world’s population, but approximately 35% of global firearm suicides, making Americans 25 times more likely to be killed by gun violence than people in other high-income countries. Oakland, California alone finished 2021 with its deadliest year in more than a decade, with over 130 homicides.”
They continued, “We also know that gun violence disproportionately harms communities of color. African American men make up about 52% of all gun homicides despite comprising less than 7% of the U.S. population. In Oakland, Black residents represent more than half of the city’s homicides and only a quarter of the city’s population. Additionally, three out of four residents killed in Oakland are Black. The equitable deployment of Federal resources, in collaboration with State and local personnel, resources, and infrastructure, will help ensure that the safety of all our communities is prioritized.
“The Public Health Emergency Declaration on Gun Violence will fundamentally reframe how people perceive gun violence prevention efforts and recommit this nation to ending gun violence. When faced with a national public health crisis, the federal government marshals its resources to protect Americans, and gun violence should not be an exception.”
Senator Padilla believes that all Americans deserve to live free from the threat of gun violence. In June 2022, Padilla voted to pass the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The law is the most significant gun safety legislation in almost thirty years and helps to keep guns away from abusers, improve background checks, and increase funding for red flag laws. In wake of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Padilla joined gun violence survivors and hundreds of gun safety supporters and advocates to demand action on gun safety. During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Padilla urged Congress to act on gun violence legislation and made the case for ensuring law enforcement officials and mental health professionals have the tools to protect children and communities.
The full text of the letter can be found here.