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Stop the Steal

Armed supporters of then-President Donald Trump speak with a Georgia state trooper during a December 12, 2020 "Stop the Steal" rally in Atlanta. (Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

'We Must Not Stand By': Amnesty Urges State Leaders to Ban Guns Near Polling Places

"Governors and secretaries of state must do everything in their power to ensure the safety of voters and poll workers this November."

Brett Wilkins

Citing the "political unrest following the last presidential election," a "rise in white supremacist violence," and a "historic surge in firearms sales" in the United States, Amnesty International USA on Monday urged state leaders to ban guns at or near polling places during the 2022 midterm elections.

"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."

In a letter, Amnesty USA urged governors and secretaries of state to "ensure the safety of voters, poll workers, and people in the vicinity" and "to take proactive, immediate action to end gun violence in their communities."

The group asserted that recent political unrest, "beginning with the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, calls for FBI offices and agents to be attacked, and a rise in white supremacist violence are all contributing factors to potential future and foreseeable violence that jeopardize human rights."

"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," Amnesty USA warned. "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."

Ernest Coverson, Amnesty USA's End Gun Violence campaign manager, said in a statement that "governors and secretaries of state must do everything in their power to ensure the safety of voters and poll workers this November."

The campaign explained that "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. Therefore, we call on state and local officials to do everything within their jurisdiction to prohibit guns/firearms at all polling places and in the vicinity of voters standing in line to cast their ballots."

The most recent survey conducted by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) revealed that nearly 1 in 5 respondents agreed with the statement, "Because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country."

PRRI founder and CEO Robert P. Jones noted what he called the "troubling" danger posed by people who believe former President Donald Trump's "Big Lie" that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent, as well as in other conspiracy theories like QAnon.

"These factors have coalesced in a white Christian nationalist ideology that is strengthened by the proliferation of far-right news sources, resulting in an unprecedented willingness by a sizable minority to believe it may be justifiable to threaten, harm, or kill their fellow citizens to restore the perceived status quo," Jones explained last November.

Amnesty USA's Coverson contended Monday that "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."

"We must not stand by," he added, "as more lives are claimed due to inaction."

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