Amnesty International USA sent a letter on October 3, 2022, to governors and secretaries of state nationwide urging them to ban guns at and near polling places to ensure the safety of voters, poll workers and people in the vicinity.
Amid rising political violence, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) called on governors and secretaries of state to enact measures to guarantee that polling places are free from intimidation of gun violence during the upcoming midterm elections. The letter references the political unrest that followed the January 6th attack on the Capitol, the increase in white supremacist violence across the country and other threats in asking governors and secretaries of state to do all they can to ensure voters’ safety.
“This year’s election with its supercharged rhetoric and issues including reproductive rights, gun rights, refugee and migrant rights, the war in Ukraine and economic issues has the potential again of seeing armed election monitors and armed voters at polls across the country. The presence of firearms at polling places will act as a force multiplier for violence and could result in abuses of the right to life,” the letter reads.
While most jurisdictions across the U.S. limit armed law enforcement officers from within 100 feet of the voting booths, the majority of states have no laws regarding armed private citizens in or around polling places. Governors and secretaries of state have the authority to institute temporary measures to guarantee safety at polling places.
“Governors and secretaries of state must do everything in their power to ensure the safety of voters and poll workers this November,” said Ernest Coverson, End Gun Violence campaign manager for Amnesty International USA.
AIUSA has been a long-time advocate for legal reforms on the acquisition, use and possession of firearms in the United States. Amnesty International USA supports a range of measures to curb gun violence, including comprehensive background checks, funding of gun violence prevention organizations, required training, a ban on high-capacity magazines/assault weapons, and mandatory safe-storage laws.
“By taking action, public officials can help address the rise of gun violence across our country that has a disproportionate impact on communities of color and other historically disenfranchised communities,” Coverson said. “We must not stand by as more lives are claimed due to inaction.”
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Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning global movement of more than 7 million people who campaign for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.