Press Release

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords Commends California for Historic Investment in Program to Address Urban Gun Violence

CalVIP has funded grants for cities like Oakland, which cut its annual shootings and gun homicides by half

Final budget, approved by Governor Newsom, includes $30 million in CalVIP funding, the largest investment in the program’s history

Sacramento, CAGiffords, the gun violence prevention group led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, praised California Governor Gavin Newsom for signing into law the Fiscal Year 2019-2020 Budget, which includes major increases in investment of the California Violence Intervention and Prevention (CalVIP) grant program, which provides competitive matching grants for cities and community-based organizations to implement effective programs designed to interrupt entrenched cycles of shootings and retaliation.

Statement from former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, co-founder of Giffords

“Governor Newsom’s signature signals his commitment to making every neighborhood in California a safer place to live, work, study and play. Every family in our country deserves to live free from the fear of gun violence. The transformation we’ve witnessed in cities like Oakland happened because leaders committed to implementing community-based programs, which cut the city’s annual shootings and homicides nearly in half. Their success proves that progress is possible. Now, more cities will have the opportunity to make similar strides because Governor Newsom and the legislature had the courage to pass this legislation. Their efforts will keep our children, families, and communities safer from gun violence.”

In a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom, Senate President Toni Atkins, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, former Congresswoman Giffords highlighted the need for increased to fully fund the program, noting the remarkable successes CalVIP has had in reducing violence in places like Oakland, Stockton, and Richmond.

“California can and should do more to ensure that every family can live without fear of losing a loved one to gun violence,” former Congresswoman Giffords wrote in the letter. “We know how to solve this crisis. New York and Massachusetts have achieved remarkable reductions in shootings by investing in violence intervention programs. In California, cities like Oakland, Los Angeles, and Richmond have implemented some of the most effective community-based violence intervention initiatives in the nation.”

A recent report by Giffords Law Center, A Case Study in Hope: Lessons From Oakland’s Remarkable Reduction in Gun Violence, Oakland’s successful citywide gun violence reduction strategy. Since 2012, Oakland has cut its annual shootings and homicides nearly in half. By 2018, Oakland recorded its lowest number of homicides in almost two decades. This stands in direct contrast to many other major American cities that saw an increase in gun violence after 2012.

To break these cycles of violence, California has invested $9 million in CalVIP annually, which funds community-driven violence intervention strategies that work with the highest-risk individuals to interrupt cycles of violence and retaliation.

In 2017, there were over 2,000 murders in the state of California, more than 70% of which were committed with a firearm. Violence in the state is concentrated geographically, with more than half of all homicides occurring in just 12 of California’s 460+ municipalities. Gun violence in California, as in many other states, also has a disparate impact on people of color. Black men ages 18–24 are over 18 times more likely than white men in the same age to be murdered with a gun in California.

Giffords Law Center has organized a broad coalition of organizations to create and advocate for the CalVIP program, but the program needs more funding. States that have had the most success in reducing violence in recent years, like New York and Massachusetts, spend four to twelve times as much as California does per capita on similar violence prevention programs. Those states’ rates of gun violence rates have fallen substantially in recent years, especially among younger and minority residents.