Josh Sugarmann

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Josh Sugarmann is the executive director and founder of the Violence Policy Center (VPC) and the author of two books on gun control. Prior to founding the VPC, Sugarmann was a press officer in the national office of Amnesty International USA[1] and was the communications director for the National Coalition to Ban Handguns.[2]

Early life[edit]

Sugarmann grew up in Newtown, Connecticut, graduating in the class of 1978. He graduated from Boston University with a degree in journalism.[3] In 1988 he founded the Violence Policy Center, a gun control advocacy group.[4] The Violence Policy Center is known mainly for its in-depth research on the firearms industry, the causes and impacts of gun violence, and regulatory policies to reduce gun violence.[5]


Sugarmann has been credited with popularizing the term "assault weapon".[6] The term "assault weapon" became widely used among gun control advocates starting in the late 1980s. The impression that Sugarmann originated the term may stem from a 1988 study he authored, Assault Weapons and Accessories in America, which examined the growing popularity of semiautomatic weapons the VPC called "assault weapons".[7] The Violence Policy Center study documents advertising from the gun industry that specifically refers to these weapons as assault rifles.[8]

Sugarmann argues that gun control should be approached as a broad-based public health issue as opposed to solely a crime issue and that firearms should be held to the same health and safety standards as other consumer products. This is detailed in the 1994 publication Cease Fire: A Comprehensive Strategy to Reduce Firearms Violence, which he co-authored.[9]

Sugarmann has written two books on gun control. The first, National Rifle Association: Money, Firepower & Fear, an exposé of the National Rifle Association, was published in 1992 by National Press Books.[10][11] The second, Every Handgun is Aimed at You: The Case for Banning Handguns, was published in 2000 by The New Press and details the arguments in support of banning private handgun possession in the United States.[12][13][14] In contrast to many gun-control activists, Sugarmann believes a full ban on handguns is necessary.[15] He has also called for bans on semi-automatic rifles and firearm magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds.[3]


  1. ^ Lourdes, Meluza (1986-03-24). "Release Cuban Activists, Group Urges". Miami Herald.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help);
  2. ^ Sugarmann, Josh (1986-03-24). "Progress Gives Us Great New Handgun -- Hijacker Special". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Olinger, David. "War comes home for founder of group fighting for assault weapons ban". Denver Post. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  4. ^ "Josh Sugarmann". Huffington Post. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  5. ^ Carter, Gregg Lee (2012). Guns in American Society: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, Culture, and the Law, 2nd Edition. ABC CLIO. ISBN 978-0313386701. 
  6. ^ Blake, Aaron. "Is it fair to call them 'assault weapons'?". Washington Post. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  7. ^ "Assault Weapons and Accessories in America". Violence Policy Center. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  8. ^ "Assault Weapons and Accessories in America: Assault Weapons Marketing". Violence Policy Center. 
  9. ^ "Cease Fire: A Comprehensive Strategy to Reduce Firearms Violence". Violence Policy Center. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  10. ^ "National Rifle Assoc (review)". Publishers Weekly. 05/04/1992.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  11. ^ Broderick, J (1992-01-01). "Book reviews: Social sciences (Reviews the book `NRA: Money, Firepower & Fear,` by Josh Sugarmann.)". Library Journal. 117 (1): 155. 
  12. ^ "Every Handgun Is Aimed at You: The Case for Banning Handguns". Publishers Weekly. 03/01/2001. Retrieved 22 January 2013.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  13. ^ Brustman, Mary Jane (4/1/2001). "Every Handgun Is Aimed at You (Book Review).". Library Journal. 126 (6): 117.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  14. ^ Stone, Peter (5/7/2001). "Lethal Weapons (Reviews three non-fiction books on gun ban. 'Gun Violence: The Real Costs,' by Philip J. Cook; 'Shots in the Dark: The Policy, Politics and Symbolism of Gun Control,' by William J. Vizzard; 'Every Handgun Is Aimed at You: The Case for Banning Handguns,' by Josh Sugarman.)". American Prospect. 12 (8): 46.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  15. ^ ERIC LICHTBLAU; RICHARD SIMON (April 18, 2000). "Gun-Control Movement Split by Ambition to Ban Handguns". LA Times. Retrieved 22 January 2013. 

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