The Heritage Foundation’s Amy Swearer, a senior legal policy analyst in the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, testified this week on gun control policy before the Virginia State Crime Commission.
Over the course of the two-day hearing, the commission heard testimony from law enforcement, gun control activists, researchers, public policy experts, and citizens. They offered solutions to gun violence and shared their concerns about proposed legislation.
Swearer argued for the use of narrow solutions to gun violence, such as the implementation of red flag laws, and against extreme or broad restrictions on Second Amendment rights. Her work has received significant media attention, including recent coverage on NPR, Richmond Times-Dispatch, and The Virginian-Pilot.
Swearer’s primary area of research is the Second Amendment and policy related to firearms. She has written extensively on the gun control debate and regularly appears on national news outlets to comment on Second Amendment issues. Each month, she publishes a report to highlight examples of known instances in which guns saved the lives of American citizens over the previous 30 days.
Informed by her research, Swearer began her testimony by debunking the notion that our country is facing a gun violence crisis.
“Americans are safer today from violent crime—including firearm-related crime—than we have been at any point during my lifetime,” Swearer stated. “We are, in fact, in the midst of a decade of historically low rates of violent crime. Even though the number of guns in this country has increased by about 50 percent since the early 1990s, the rate of homicide and gun-related homicide has fallen by about 50 percent.”
Swearer and her Heritage colleague John Malcolm have done extensive research on the connection between mental illness and gun violence. Malcolm is the vice president for the Institute for Constitutional Government and director of the Meese Center for Legal & Judicial Studies.
In her testimony, she argued that “a focus on untreated mental health conditions provides a meaningful way of addressing gun-related violence without broadly infringing on the Second Amendment rights of all lawful gun owners.”
More than 200 citizens and lawmakers were present for Swearer’s testimony. She challenged them to remember that “we are all Americans. We are all Virginians. And as we in good faith discuss solutions to the violence that affects us all, let us refuse to forget that we are on the same team.”