Letter, Available Here, Is Signed By 18 California Mayors, Representing Nearly 10 Million Residents
Mayors: ‘Guns Injure, Traumatize and Take Far Too Many of Our Residents—Much More Needs to be Done.’
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — In an open letter released today, 18 mayors, all a part of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, are calling on Governor Newsom to increase funding for the California Violence Intervention and Prevention grant program (CalVIP) to $114 million in this year’s budget, including an ongoing investment of $39 million and an emergency and a one-time augmentation of $75 million to meet the state’s urgent needs, as well as to increase the maximum award level to $4.5 million. Last year, Governor Newsom allocated $9 for CalVIP funding.
On average, over 3,000 people are shot and killed and over 6,800 others are wounded by guns every year in California. 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 six times more likely than their white peers to die by guns.
“While California is a national leader in gun violence prevention, CalVIP remains severely underfunded,” the letter states. “In the most recent grant cycle, eligible applicants sought a total of $78 million in matching CalVIP grants, but CalVIP was only able to award $37 million in grants, leaving eligible cities and community organizations without adequate resources.”
Read the full letter here.
“Gun violence did not stop during the pandemic — in fact, in our city and in communities nationwide, it’s still changing, destroying, and taking too many lives and leaving empty chairs at too many families’ kitchen tables,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “CalVIP is a data-driven way to prevent this public health crisis, but the program only works with the right funding, policies, and strategies. With the right resources, we can protect our neighborhoods and save lives.”
“We need more than thoughts and prayers to address gun violence – we need action,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. “For too long, the gun violence epidemic has torn apart countless families and has only intensified this past year. We need to do everything we can to make sure our communities, schools and homes are safe for everyone – and that starts with increasing the funding to CalVIP so we can continue support programs throughout California that are proven to reduce violence and save lives.”
“We need bold action to save lives from gun violence,” said Deborah Nelson, a volunteer and survivor with the California chapter of Moms Demand Action. “California has some of the strongest gun safety laws in the nation, but we know that ending gun violence requires leveraging every resource available, especially at this critical time. Violence intervention programs are an evidence-informed way to prevent gun violence in the communities hit hardest and we need those funds now.”
The letter was signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti (Los Angeles), Mayor London Breed (San Francisco), Mayor Todd Gloria (San Diego), Mayor Darrell Steinberg (Sacramento), Mayor Libby Schaaf (Oakland), Mayor Aja Brown (Compton), Mayor Jesse Arreguin (Berkley), Mayor Catherine Blakespear (Encinitas), Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft (Alameda), Mayor Patrick Furey (Torrance), Mayor Sam Liccardo (San Jose), Mayor Robert Garcia (Long Beach), Mayor Barbara Halliday (Hayward), Mayor Tom Butt (Richmond), Mayor Bryan Osorio (Delano), Mayor Robert McConnell (Vallejo), Mayor Lesa Heebner (Solana Beach), and Mayor Lamar Thorpe (Antioch).
For the past three years, California Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action volunteers have advocated for 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.
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.