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.