With limited funding, CalVIP has funded state grants for cities like Oakland that cut its annual shootings and gun homicides by half
May 9, 2019 — Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who founded the gun violence prevention organization Giffords, called on California leaders to fully fund a program critical to reducing gun violence in impacted cities. In a letter addressed to Governor Gavin Newsom, Senate President Toni Atkins, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, former Congresswoman Giffords highlighted the need for increased investments in the California Violence Intervention and Prevention (CalVIP) grant program providing competitive matching grants for cities and community-based organizations to implement effective programs designed to interrupt entrenched cycles of shootings and retaliation. Giffords noted how CalVIP-funded programs have made a remarkable difference 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.”
Giffords goes on to say, “That’s why I am calling on California’s leaders to fund a groundbreaking expansion of the CalVIP grant program, and do what you do best on this issue: lead.”
The call for action comes just as a new report was unveiled from Giffords Law Center called A Case Study in Hope: Lessons From Oakland’s Remarkable Reduction in Gun Violence, that explores the city’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.
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.
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.
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.