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This special collection brings together evidence and insights from nonprofits, foundations, and research organizations working to understand the full impact of firearm use and gun violence in the US. By providing us with analyses of current state and federal laws as well as valuable data on suicides, homicides, accidents, and mass shootings, these organizations seek to inform sound public policy and to curb this ongoing public health epidemic.

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"Gun Violence" by M+R Glasgow licensed under CC 2.0

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A new community safety blueprint: How the federal government can address violence and harm through a public health approach

September 21, 2022

To keep individuals, families, and communities truly safe from violence and harm, policymakers must tackle the "social determinants of safety" that contribute to neighborhood violence in the first place. Just as in public health, where prevention is the most effective way to keep people healthy, preventative safety is the most effective way to maintain public safety. Yet federal spending and policy priorities are not structured to harness this insight—the U.S. government dramatically underspends on programs that are most effective at improving community safety, while allocating billions to punitive programs that harm both families and communities. The following blueprint is designed to help federal lawmakers address this mismatch by outlining an evidence-based policy agenda that prioritizes upstream interventions to advance community safety. Given widespread concerns about community violence and harm, as well as the forthcoming expiration of American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) dollars currently funding community safety interventions, it is more essential than ever that the U.S. government build sustainable, flexible, and long-term funding streams for evidence-based safety programs. The blueprint begins with an overview of recent crime trends to provide context for thinking about violence as a place-based issue. After establishing this baseline, the blueprint highlights the evidence behind investments that prevent and reduce violence while strengthening communities from the bottom-up. Next, it highlights five categories of federal policy recommendations designed to prevent and reduce violence:  Public health and preventionEconomic opportunity and housing securityYouth development and education Built environment and community spacesInstitutional transformationTo illustrate the viability of each recommendation, we also include examples of successfully implemented policy interventions. The blueprint concludes by recasting the affirmative vision for community safety.

Addressing the root causes of gun violence with American Rescue Plan funds: Lessons from state and local governments

August 15, 2022

In June 2022, the most significant piece of gun violence prevention legislation in decades, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, became law. Alongside several common-sense gun regulations, the law allocates $250 million for community-based violence prevention initiatives—a promising step toward promoting safety through non-carceral and community-centered approaches.This federal action is important, but it only scratches the surface of what can be done to keep communities safe from gun violence. From investing in youth employment programs to revitalizing vacant lots to improving the quality of neighborhood housing, a wealth of community-based safety interventions are proven to reduce violent crime—including gun violence—in the places most impacted by it, and tackle the conditions of inequality that allow violence to concentrate in the first place. But far too often, these community-based interventions are under-funded, particularly when compared to more punitive approaches.Luckily, another source of federal aid can fund community-based safety investments: the American Rescue Plan's (ARP) $350 billion in Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. In addition to helping states and localities recover from the pandemic, the funds also provide local leaders with an unparalleled opportunity to address the public health crisis of gun violence.This research brief documents how state and local leaders are leveraging ARP funds to invest in non-carceral community-based safety initiatives; presents perspectives and case studies from leaders on-the-ground innovating on such strategies; and offers recommendations for how state and local leaders can maximize ARP funds to promote community safety prior to 2024 (when all funds must be obligated) and 2026 (when all funds must be spent). This is an unparalleled—and time-limited—window of opportunity, and states and localities should be thinking strategically right now about how to not only invest in proven strategies to reduce gun violence, but also promote life-affirming safety investments that support thriving communities.