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Trendwatch: States Fund Proven Violence Reduction Programs in Underserved Communities

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Oakland cut shootings and homicides in half in six years. A number of states, including California, are taking notice—and action. Our latest edition of Gun Law Trendwatch breaks down what you need to know.

Interpersonal violence concentrated in urban areas takes a disproportionate toll on underserved communities of color. Black men constitute just 7% of the American population yet account for more than 52% of all gun homicides each year. Fortunately, proven solutions do exist. When implemented properly and funded adequately, community intervention strategies have been remarkably effective at saving lives.

In April, Giffords Law Center released a report, A Case Study in Hope, examining the astounding success experienced by Oakland, California, in reducing violence. The city cut shootings and TWDLTLI-215homicides in half since 2012 through Oakland Ceasefire, an ongoing partnership between community members, social service providers, and law enforcement officials. These stakeholders work together to reduce violence, build police-community trust, and improve outcomes for high-risk individuals.

Several states have proposed funding for these programs. In early May, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam directed $2.45 million in funding to the implementation of hospital-based violence intervention programs at seven Virginia hospitals. In California, Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2020 revised budget proposal triples funding for the state’s violence intervention grant program, CalVIP, raising the yearly allocation from $9 to $27 million. Six additional states have bills pending to strengthen intervention programs.

By directing resources to innovative programs that target individuals most at-risk for involvement with violence, states are acknowledging that gun violence in urban communities of color is preventable. Removing the constant threat of violence can dramatically improve life outcomes for communities whose struggles have gone unaddressed for far too long.

Read the full roundup here, or check out this summary of where gun safety legislation stands in states around the country today.

Gun Violence Prevention Bills

Legislation to strengthen or enact background checks is pending in 15 states.

  • Washington HB 1465 was enacted on May 7.
    New Hampshire HB 109 passed both chambers.

At least 13 states have bills pending that would close domestic violence loopholes that allow abusers to access guns.

  • Washington HB 1517 and HB 1786 were enacted on May 7, and HB 1225 was enacted on May 13.
  • Oregon HB 2013 passed both chambers.
  • California AB 164 passed the assembly.

Extreme risk protection order bills are pending in at least 15 states.

  • Washington SB 5027, which would strengthen existing law, was enacted on May 7.
    California AB 164, AB 165, and AB 339, which would strengthen existing law, passed the assembly.

At least 7 states have bills pending to allocate or protect funding for community-based urban gun violence reduction strategies.

  • Washington HB 1109 was enacted on May 21.
  • California AB 166 and AB 1603 passed the assembly. AB 656 passed a second committee.

Dangerous Gun Lobby Bills

Dangerous bills to allow guns in school or on campus are pending in at least 13 states.

  • Texas HB 1143 and HB 1387 passed both chambers.
  • Alabama HB 209 passed the house and a senate committee.
  • Missouri HB 575 passed the house.

Defensive Victory Highlights

Advocates and courageous legislators defeated several dangerous gun lobby bills in Missouri this year. A bill to arm educators and bring more guns onto campuses and into K–12 schools, HB 575, failed. Also defeated were HB 258 and SB 121, which would have weakened private property rights and allowed guns in numerous public spaces where their presence is particularly dangerous, such as bars, child care facilities, hospitals, and polling places.


About Trendwatch: Distributed biweekly during the state legislative cycle, Gun Law Trendwatch rounds up and analyzes trends in state gun legislation, documents important victories, and monitors the gun lobby’s activity in legislatures across the United States.