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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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Racial Equity Framework for Gun Violence Prevention

February 16, 2022

This report urges us to think carefully about the relationship between gun violence prevention and racial equity. Racial equity impact assessments (REIAs), such as the assessment proposed in this report, guide advocates, policy makers, and researchers through a thorough examination of policies with an equity lens to anticipate the potential outcomes and mitigate foreseeable risks. It requires one to ask fundamental questions about when to justify involvement with the criminal legal system, identify the costs and benefits of engagement, and think about alternatives to minimize harm. This framework acknowledges that solutions to gun violence, however well intentioned they may be, can exacerbate or compound upon the harms suffered by impacted communities if they are made without careful analysis and the input of those directly affected by it.Gun violence affects everyone. It inflicts an enormous burden upon our country, particularly within under-resourced Black and Latino/Hispanic communities. The politics of guns and race have long been intertwined, but racial equity only recently became a focal point of discussions among gun violence prevention groups, catalyzed by the advocacy of community-based and BIPOC-led organizations.In partnership with many stakeholders across the gun violence prevention movement, this racial equity framework is a resource that can be used by policymakers, researchers, and organizations working in gun violence prevention. Representatives from the six authoring organizations comprised a small working group to plan development of the report and convened a series of conversations to share proposals and review feedback from expert contributors. In addition to advancing racial equity, the core values of inclusion, collaboration, and consensus-building guided the project from early stages through completion.Building upon existing racial equity work and guidance, this report is informed by the public health model of social determinants of health and has been tailored to the specific needs of gun violence prevention. The tools and recommendations proposed in this report are derived from relevant academic literature, racial equity impact assessments, and frameworks for building more equitable social movements.The racial equity framework for gun violence prevention is divided into three main sections: The first section introduces the most relevant considerations about gun policy and race. It helps contextualize the issue of racial disparities in gun violence and the role of the criminal legal system. The second section is the racial equity impact assessment tool (REIA) for gun violence prevention policy. It includes the analysis of the foundational assessments that were considered to develop the tool and a practical explanation of each of the questions that comprise the REIA. The third section provides resources to build a more equitable gun violence prevention movement. It describes the need to center and invest in BIPOC-led organizations and presents a set of recommendations for developing and sustaining a more equitable gun violence prevention movement. 

A Fund for Healing: VOCA Grants for Violence Reduction

February 1, 2020

Half of all gun homicides in the United States take place in just 127 cities. Often, gun violence within these cities is concentrated in Black and Brown neighborhoods shaped by long-term underinvestment. The high rates of gun violence in urban pockets impact residents and exacerbate their need for assistance services in the aftermath of gun violence.Adequate funding is essential to providing robust, sustainable services to victims of gun violence. Local community-based organizations have been delivering these critical services for years, healing families and communities while preventing future gun violence. However, these local organizations are often underresourced and require additional funding to expand and sustain their positive impact.Since 2015, the federal government has allocated an annual average of $2.3 billion in Victims of CrimeAct (VOCA) victim assistance funds to states and territories. But states routinely fail to spend up to a third of available funds even as gun violence victims and their communities are in desperate need of resources. This failure to invest in gun violence victim services is a missed opportunity by states to serve victims, interrupt the cycle of gun violence, and reduce gun violence overall.Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund and Cities United have identified federal VOCA victim assistance grants as a bountiful but underutilized resource for gun violence intervention services. This report details plans of action for states, cities, hospitals, and community-based organizations to utilize this funding for communities impacted by gun violence. If followed, these recommendations would reverse the historical failure of states to dedicate VOCA victim assistance dollars to gun violence victim services and enable them to seize an opportunity to make our communities safer, healthier, and more hopeful.Over the course of six months, Everytown and Cities United spoke with local organizations serving victims of gun violence about their experience with VOCA victim assistance funds. Some community-based organizations were unfamiliar with VOCA victim assistance funding as an available resource. Many that did know about the funds had difficulty obtaining them, while others did not have the capacity and infrastructure to comply with the grant requirements. Still, others advocated for years in front of state administrators before obtaining funding.We also spoke with VOCA state administrators, some of whom were implementing innovative grant programs to drive funding to gun violence victims. These grant programs should serve as models for the majority of states who have failed to utilize the funding to address the needs of gun violence victims.Everytown and Cities United found that VOCA victim assistance funding can and should be utilized to support services to gun violence victims and to help stem cycles of violence. Among the gun violence intervention services eligible for victim assistance funding are: Hospital-based violence intervention programs; Street outreach programs such as Cure Violence; and Trauma recovery centers.