As the Missouri legislature reconvenes for a special session next week, Missouri Governor Mike Parson and the legislature should allocate funds from Missouri’s average annual Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding to support programs for gun violence survivors.
Gov. Parson announced his agenda for the upcoming special session to address the recent spike in violence. Instead of including any gun safety measures, the agenda focuses on increasing penalties for violent crimes, which research shows does not reduce violent crime and is disproportionately applied to Black people.
In addition, Governor Parson should utilize 10%, or $4 million, of Missouri’s average annual VOCA victim assistance fund to support eligible gun violence victim services programs. The Black and Latino communities disproportionately impacted by gun violence already suffer from underinvestment, and lack vital services like trauma centers and mental health care. The ongoing consequences of gun violence can start to feel like an endless cycle that perpetuates itself. With increased VOCA victim assistance funding, local organizations can get the resources they need to help survivors heal and interrupt the cycle of violence.
Missouri has the fifth highest rate of gun deaths in the United States, and gun violence disproportionately impacts Black people in Missouri. Missouri has the highest rate of firearm homicide rate for Black Americans in the nation, and Black people are 14 times as likely to die by gun homicide as white people in Missouri.