Atlanta Area Organizations Call for Gun Legislation

Statement from the Urban League of Greater Atlanta, ADL, and GALEO

Local Georgia organizations representing the ADL, Urban League of Greater Atlanta, and GALEO today issued a joint statement in reaction to the spate of gun violence and acts of domestic terrorism in the United States over the past eight days:

We stand together in calling on state and national political leaders to enact sensible gun safety legislation and to denounce the divisive, hateful rhetoric that has emboldened white supremacists to commit hate crimes and acts of domestic terrorism. We know how to reduce gun violence and we have seen what happens when extremism goes unchecked.   

Urban League of Greater Atlanta President and CEO Nancy F. Johnson said: “We are heartbroken over the loss of life in these senseless acts of hatred and gun violence. Our organization stands for fairness, justice, and equal opportunity for all. The growing threat of domestic terrorism threatens to turn back the clock on gains we have made over the nearly 100 years since the Urban League was founded. We must do something NOW to reduce the threat of gun violence and end the outrageous rhetoric from politicians that disparages people of color and emboldens white supremacists. 

“As National Urban League President Marc Morial put it: ‘Our hearts are with the victims and their families, but our thoughts and prayers are meaningless unless they are put to action with stronger, effective, common-sense gun safety laws.’” 

Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO, reflected the same sentiment: “Yet again we turn our thoughts and prayers to a community grieving after another mass shooting potentially motivated by hate and extremism. But thoughts and prayers are simply not enough. Unfortunately, this terrorist attack reiterates the same trends we’ve been seeing: the mainstreaming of hatred and extremism via popularizing of anti-immigrant platforms, the radicalization and empowerment of hate online, and the violence of white supremacist extremism. Our country cannot afford to continue to overlook the seriousness of the threat of white supremacy. It is not who we are, or who we want to be as a nation. The time to take action against this hate is now.” 

Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director GALEO & GALEO Latino Community Development Fund, stated: “We are saddened and mourn those lost in the senseless white nationalist terrorist attack against our brothers and sisters in El Paso, Texas.  We ask the President to acknowledge the role he has played in fanning the flames of hostility in the nation’s current state of political affairs. As a nation, we must all reject white supremacy in all its forms and work towards healing.”

We join our national organizations and much of the nation in demanding comprehensive gun safety legislation at the federal level. The Senate can start with passing the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 and closing loopholes that allow people to purchase a firearm before a background check has been approved. We also support a renewal of the assault weapons ban and significant investment in mental health initiatives that can red-flag dangerous individuals. 

Hatred and violence are ripping our nation apart. Each person — especially anyone in an influential leadership position — has a moral obligation to denounce bigotry and to declare that every human being has a right to live in dignity and safety, and the right to seek refuge from harm. 

Aware that a significant number of the recent mass murderers in the United States have been young, white men who identify with “white nationalism,” we call for an end to rhetoric that dehumanizes and demeans groups of people based on their race, religion, economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity or country of origin. This is especially dangerous language when it comes from our nation’s president and has contributed to an increase in white supremacist groups and attackers over the past two years. 

We demand that our political leaders set a tone for young people – all people – to follow, teaching by words and deeds that we must live together, respecting and valuing our diversity, not fearing it. 

We need to make it clear through our laws and moral codes that no matter what problems you face, strapping on guns and killing people does not solve problems and only demonizes the shooter, destroys lives and families and contributes to our decline as a nation. 

After each national tragedy fueled by guns, where we weep for so many innocent lives lost, we collectively say THIS MUST STOP. We call upon state and national officials to take proven, concrete and bold actions NOW, to speak out in unison, and truly move toward the day when our country is no longer the world’s leader in such mass shooting deaths. A time when we uphold the promise of our nation as a place that promotes “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for ALL of our fellow human beings.