On Sunday, Tony Messenger published a column in the St. Louis Post Dispatch detailing the aftermath survivors of gun violence often face in the wake of a shooting. Messenger spoke with Glenda Lay, a St. Louis-based volunteer with Missouri Moms Demand Action and a survivor of gun violence whose had three loved ones shot and killed.
As Messenger writes:
“This year, one of the things she and some of her fellow activists want policy-makers to think about is a bit outside the realm of normal gun-violence debates, which tend to get bogged down in partisan disputes, particularly in Missouri. This year, Lay says, she’d like lawmakers to spend some time thinking about the victims of gun violence, and what can be done to help them.”
One suggestion Messenger proposes: Prioritize survivors of gun violence in funding devoted to supporting victims of crime.
The Victim of Crime Act (VOCA) is a fund, financed from federal criminal fines, fees and penalties, that states can draw from. Missouri has $70 million of VOCA Assistance funding available for victims’ service providers in the state, including services that work with survivors of gun violence. Lay hopes that in the future more funding goes towards programs like Washington University’s Gun Violence Initiative, which includes a Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program that treats gun violence as a public health issue.
More details on the emotional and financial burden for survivors of gun violence and their communities can be found in the recent report by Everytown for Gun Safety, A Nation of Survivors: The Toll of Gun Violence in America.
If you have any interest in learning more about how survivors of gun violence can access VOCA funding or would like to speak with someone on the issue, please don’t hesitate to reach out.