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 nonprofit educational foundation working to reduce gun violence in America.[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 starting 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 deemed "assault weapons".[7] However, the gun industry was using that term and similar ones in marketing campaigns since the early 1980s.[8] The Violence Policy Center study documents advertising from the gun industry that specifically refers to these weapons as assault rifles.[9]

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.[10]

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.[11][12] 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.[13][14][15] In contrast to many gun-control activists, he believes a full ban on handguns is necessary.[16] He has also called for bans on semi-automatic rifles and standard-capacity magazines.[3]


"Today's N.R.A. is, in reality, nothing more than a gun industry trade association masquerading as a shooting sports foundation. The organization's agenda is increasingly focused on one goal: selling more guns."

-Josh Sugarmann, "An Industry Stands in the Way," April 17, 2014[17]

"On television news, anchors refer to the school shootings as “unavoidable,” as if such mass shootings are the bastard children born of hurricanes and snowstorms."

-Josh Sugarmann, "Schoolgirls Executed In Their Own Classroom: America Shrugs," October 4, 2006[18]

"Assault weapons—just like armor-piercing bullets, machine guns, and plastic firearms—are a new topic. The weapons' menacing looks, coupled with the public's confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons. In addition, few people can envision a practical use for these weapons."

-Josh Sugarmann, "Assault Weapons and Accessories in America," 1988[7]

"One tenet of the National Rifle Association's faith has always been that handgun controls do little to stop criminals from obtaining handguns. For once, the NRA is right and America's leading handgun control organization is wrong. Criminals don't buy guns in gun stores. That's why they're criminals. But it isn't criminals who are killing most of the 20,000 to 22,000 people who die from handguns each year. We are."

-Josh Sugarmann, "The NRA is Right: But We Still Need to Ban Handguns," The Washington Monthly, June 1987. (link to article)


  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. ^ a b "Assault Weapons and Accessories in America". Violence Policy Center. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  8. ^ Phillip Peterson, Gun Digest Buyer’s Guide to Assault Weapons (2008)
  9. ^ "Assault Weapons and Accessories in America: Assault Weapons Marketing". Violence Policy Center. 
  10. ^ "Cease Fire: A Comprehensive Strategy to Reduce Firearms Violence". Violence Policy Center. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  11. ^ "National Rifle Assoc (review)". Publishers Weekly. 05/04/1992.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  12. ^ Broderick, J (1992-1-1). "Book reviews: Social sciences (Reviews the book `NRA: Money, Firepower & Fear,` by Josh Sugarmann.)". Library Journal 117 (1): 155.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  13. ^ "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)
  14. ^ 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)
  15. ^ 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)
  16. ^ ERIC LICHTBLAU; RICHARD SIMON (April 18, 2000). "Gun-Control Movement Split by Ambition to Ban Handguns". LA Times. Retrieved 22 January 2013. 
  17. ^ Sugarmann, Josh. "An Industry Stands in the Way". New York Times. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  18. ^ Sugarmann, Josh. "Schoolgirls Executed in Their Classroom: America Shrugs". Huffington Post. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 

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