Press Release

Giffords Applauds Massachusetts Legislature and Governor Baker for Funding Programs that Reduce Urban Gun Violence and Save Lives

Budget will help the state continue to address urban gun violence by providing critical expanded support for evidence-based public health programs.

September 4, 2018 — Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, applauded Governor Baker and the Massachusetts Legislature for funding Massachusetts’ innovative and highly impactful Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI). The $8M provided in the budget passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Baker will help the state continue to address urban gun violence by providing critical expanded support for evidence-based violence prevention programs.

With SSYI, Massachusetts is one of the only states in the nation investing substantial resources in a public health-based violence prevention strategy that works to break chronic cycles of violence by working directly with young people at the highest risk being perpetrators or victims. This program has been credited with significant reductions in gun violence, particularly among young men in impoverished communities. First launched in 2011, SSYI is a competitive grant program that awards funds to cities with high rates of violence.

“Massachusetts continues to lead the nation in reducing the impacts of gun violence,” said Mike McLively, Giffords Law Center’s urban gun violence initiative director. “SSYI is a successful program that has saved countless lives, and the recommitment today by Governor Baker and the Massachusetts legislature shows just how dedicated leaders are to protecting their state’s families. Gun violence is a public health crisis that demands innovative ideas and support for neighborhoods reeling from the problem. We applaud Massachusetts for strongly recommitting to this life-saving initiative, and look forward to the successes the program will continue to produce.”

In 2017, Giffords Law Center examined all 50 states and identified SSYI as one of the nation’s most innovative and effective state-level violence reduction programs. In our report, Investing in Intervention: The Critical Role of State-Level Support in Breaking the Cycle of Urban Gun Violence, Giffords Law Center concluded that SSYI was an important reason why gun homicide rates dropped 45% among young people in Massachusetts in recent years, even as they rose by 6% nationally. The $8M provided in the 2019 Fiscal Budget will allow SSYI to continue operations in its 12 current communities.

Each year, nearly 115,000 people in the United States are shot. Underserved neighborhoods bear the brunt of this epidemic—black men make up 6% of the nation’s population, but account for more than half of gun homicide victims each year.

Massachusetts began investing in community-based gun violence reduction strategies in 2006. From 2010 to 2015, the state’s gun homicide rate fell by 35% while nationally the rate rose 14%.