Gun violence prevention is more important than ever in the new year as the pandemic continues to exacerbate gun violence, and after a year of increased gun sales, continued police violence, and an increase in city gun violence. In 2020, an estimated 19,300 people were killed in gun homicides or non-suicide-related shootings—a 25 percent increase over 2019. California was no exception, and gun violence has continued to surge in 2021.
As gun violence continues to devastate California communities, lawmakers at all levels of government need to prioritize gun violence prevention. Though California has strong gun safety laws, there is more work that must be done to protect Californians from gun violence.
This session, legislators should prioritize legislation to promote secure storage, create a crisis hotline and implement alternative dispatch for calls not requiring law enforcement, create a tax to provide sustainable funding for critical life-saving violence intervention programs through CalVIP, and secure victim compensation for survivors of police violence.
Volunteers are also supporting emergency funding for California Violence Intervention and Prevention Grant Program (CalVIP) from California Governor Gavin Newsom in the state budget. CalVIP supports community-based violence intervention programs that apply a localized approach to reducing gun violence in California’s hardest-hit neighborhoods. These programs apply a public health model to ending gun violence and keeping California communities safe. Many community-based prevention and intervention programs in the U.S. have now adapted their strategies to inform community members about the risks of COVID-19.
What to know about the gun safety bills introduced in California:
- AB 452, legislation to require schools to notify parents and guardians about secure storage laws. The bill is currently in the Assembly Education Committee awaiting a hearing.
- AB 988, legislation to create a crisis hotline for mental health calls that do not require a direct line to law enforcement. The bill passed the Assembly Health Committee yesterday.
- AB 1223, legislation to create sustainable CalVIP funding and require a portion of California taxes to fund the life-saving program. The bill will be heard in the Assembly Revenue and Taxation committee on Monday.
- SB 2, legislation to increase accountability for law enforcement officers through creation of a decertification process when misconduct has occurred.
- SB 299, legislation to ensure that victims of excessive use of force by law enforcement are able to utilize victim compensation. The bill passed the Public Safety Committee in March and now awaits a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
What to know about gun violence in California:
- In California, on average, over 3,000 people are shot and killed and over 6,080 others are wounded by guns every year.
- An average of nearly 1,600 people in California die by gun suicide every year. Gun suicide accounts for over 50 percent of all gun deaths in the state.
- Gun violence costs California $22.6 billion each year, of which $1.2 billion is paid by taxpayers.
- Homicide levels in major cities in California, including Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Diego, have risen over the past year, as the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the root causes of gun violence and brought unprecedented challenges to the work of local gun violence intervention programs. In the state, Black children and teens are 6 times more likely than their white peers to die by guns.
Statistics about gun violence in California are available here, and Everytown’s Gun Law Navigator – which shows how California’s gun laws compare to those of other states – is available here. If you are interested in speaking with a California Moms Demand Action or Students Demand Action volunteer, please don’t hesitate to reach out.