October 31, 2022

Congresswoman Lee and Senator Padilla Call for National Public Health Emergency Declaration on Gun Violence

Washington, DC - Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) and Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) 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.

Congresswoman Lee and Senator Padilla 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.”

The full text of the letter can be found here.


Congresswoman Lee is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and Chair of the Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. She serves as Co-Chair of the Steering & Policy Committee, former Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Chair Emeritus of the Progressive Caucus, Co-Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Health Task Force, and Co-Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus. She also serves as Chair of the Majority Leader’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity. As a member of the House Democratic Leadership, she is the highest ranking Black woman in the U.S. Congress.