Two gun violence prevention activists in Virginia penned a powerful op-ed in the Washington Post calling for support for local programs and organizations that interrupt the cycle of gun violence. The piece comes after a deadly summer where children have continued to pay the price for gun violence — including a 17-year old killed in September, and two toddlers shot in Richmond and Norfolk.
As the authors write:
“Only with a combination of common-sense gun laws and a commitment from community members and local stakeholders can we start to slow the heartbreaking shootings we’ve experienced for decades. If we want to keep our communities safe, local gun violence prevention organizations deserve just as much support as common-sense gun safety measures moving in the statehouse.”
Funding cuts have left summer youth programming, outreach efforts, and other social services in jeopardy. As a New York Times analysis echoes, community-based programs that interrupt the cycle of gun violence with a number of services have been “upended by the pandemic.” And while a number of factors have played a role in the increased gun violence numerous cities have faced, the combination of the pandemic and strained local programs has only made things worse.
There are a wide variety of evidence-based gun violence prevention and reduction strategies currently implemented in cities that lawmakers can support. Street outreach, group violence intervention and hospital-based violence intervention programs have all seen success in saving lives in cities where they are implemented. Additionally, local intervention programs have adapted their strategies to continue helping communities, particularly communities of color, hit hard by both gun violence and the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s essential these programs continue to receive existing funding during and after the pandemic.
Heading into November, turning out voters to elect candidates up and down the ballot who will fight common-sense gun safety — including funding for community-based organizations — is a priority. To learn more about local gun violence prevention efforts, or to speak with a volunteer with Virginia Moms Demand Action, please don’t hesitate to reach out.