Everytown for Gun Safety and the Washington, D.C. chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statement after Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that D.C.’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (ONSE) will more than double the number of community-based violence interrupters and expand into three new neighborhoods.
“Violence intervention programs save lives. By more than doubling the violence interruption resources available in our communities, Mayor Bowser continues to demonstrate her commitment to making Washington D.C. a safer place to live,” said Michael Sean Spence, Senior Director of Community Safety Initiatives at Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. “We know that these solutions work and expanded investments allow community-based violence intervention programs to continue their life saving in this urgent moment.”
Research on violence intervention programs shows that they help reduce gun violence in communities that are disproportionately impacted, and the District of Columbia’s city-run violence interruption program has already seen success. Last year, communities that the ONSE engaged with experienced a decrease in gun crimes and gun homicides, a trend that has remained consistent in 2021. Data on the level of gun violence in ONSE targeted communities are posted monthly, and updated every quarter, according to ONSE Director Director Del McFadden. Mayor Bowser also announced that the city will distribute $1.1 million in grants to additional community-based violence reduction organizations working across the District of Columbia later this month.
Washington, D.C. took clear steps this year to support the life-saving work of these programs with historic levels of funding in the budget that was announced by Mayor Muriel Bowser in May of 2021, approved by the D.C. Council in August, and went into effect in October. The funding — over $59 million utilized from the American Rescue Plan — includes provisions for employment programs, street outreach, alternative dispatch, the expansion of the DC Pathways program, and expansions for trauma-informed mental health services, among others.
In an average year in Washington D.C., 119 people die by guns and 448 people are shot and wounded. Gun violence costs the District of Columbia $1.1 billion each year, of which $90.9 million is paid by taxpayers. The District has the highest rate of gun homicides in the country compared to all 50 states.