Talk of the Bay
Talk of the Bay
Justin Wagner of Everytown for Gun Safety on Armed Demonstrations, their potential for violence, and their impact on free speech
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Justin Wagner is the Director of Investigations at Everytown for Gun Safety, where he oversees the organization’s investigatory work pertaining to the gun lobby, the firearms industry, and extremist groups.

Last month, Everytown and the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) published a first-of-its-kind report quantifying at least 560 armed demonstrations that have taken place across the United States since the start of 2020, averaging more than one a day.

The report finds that:

  • Militia groups and militant social movements, like the Proud Boys and Three Percenters, are active in over 54% of all armed demonstrations.
  • 84% of the groups involved in armed demonstrations are right-wing actors. The main group actors include the Boogaloo Boys and their affiliates, the Three Percenters and associated groups, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers.
  • Nearly 97% of all armed demonstrations have taken place in public spaces, with at least 18% reported at government facilities, including over 100 armed demonstrations at capitol buildings and vote counting sites in 25 states and Washington, DC.
  • Between January 2020 and June 2021 there were more than 30,000 public demonstrations in the U.S. Of those, 560 are known to have included the presence of an armed individual (other than law enforcement). While armed demonstrations account for less than 2% of the total number of demonstrations, they account for 10% of all violent or destructive demonstrations. Armed demonstrations turn violent or destructive about 16% of the time, compared to less than 3% of the time for unarmed demonstrations, where the violence or destruction in any case does not involve firearms.