Press Release

Giffords, California Violence Intervention Leaders Undertake Virtual Lobbying to Encourage Lawmakers to Protect Funding for Lifesaving Gun Violence Prevention 

Community leaders in reducing everyday shootings met virtually with lawmakers to urge sustained investment in CalVIP

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

March 25, 2020 — With the coronavirus epidemic disrupting traditional advocacy efforts, Giffords organized a successful effort to connect California’s violence prevention leaders with lawmakers dedicated to community safety and equity to discuss the need to protect funding for lifesaving violence reduction initiatives during this period of crisis. These leaders shared stories about their work to dramatically reduce community violence in cities across the State, and to encourage lawmakers to sustain these efforts. Giffords helped leading community gun violence intervention groups hold a virtual lobby day to seek sustained funding for the California Violence Intervention and Prevention (CalVIP) grant program, which provides competitive matching grants for cities and community-based organizations to implement programs that aim to interrupt cycles of shootings, trauma, and retaliation.

These initiatives have proven tremendously successful at providing support to high-risk individuals so they don’t get swept up in cycles of violence. The group of nine violence intervention organizations held meetings with 10 lawmakers to advocate for continued investment in CalVIP, which would allow critical violence intervention services to continue in some of California’s most vulnerable communities.

“California has joined a growing movement to step up and extend a hand to those all too often forgotten in the conversations about reducing gun violence,” said Mike McLively, Community Violence Initiative Director at Giffords Law Center. “During these difficult times, lawmakers need to maintain this commitment. While the coronavirus is keeping many at home, the work to stop the heartbreak from everyday shootings goes on. CalVIP-funded programs are often the only lifeline to some of California’s most vulnerable populations. Leaders who understand what it takes to keep our communities safe got to remind lawmakers today we can’t turn our back on progress now. By continuing California’s critical investment in CalVIP, we can save lives, taxpayers dollars, and speed up economic recovery in underserved communities.”

“I spent all of my teen years and early adult life in a gang in San Diego. I have firsthand experience how traumatizing gun violence can be to individuals, families, and communities,” said Bishop Cornelius Bowser of Snapshot Outreach, a gun violence prevention ministry of Charity Apostolic Church-San Diego. “I have also seen firsthand how CalVIP-funded programs have helped to reduce community gun violence in the most marginalized and underserved communities. Today, we asked lawmakers to continue funding CalVIP at the same levels from last year’s budget.”

The group of community leaders represented nine California organizations making an impact throughout the state. These leaders met with 10 California lawmakers to discuss the importance of increasing CalVIP funding. To break these cycles of violence, California invested $9 million in CalVIP annually before last year, when state lawmakers tripled funding for CalVIP to $30 million and enacted the Break the Cycle of Violence Act into law to strengthen this program. These groups who met with lawmakers today included:

  • Urban Peace Institute

  • City of Sacramento Gang Prevention & Intervention Task Force

  • Advance Peace

  • Community and Youth Outreach

  • California Partnership for Safe Communities

  • Community Assistance Support Team

  • Public Health Advocates

  • Richmond Office of Neighborhood Safety

  • Youth Alive!

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, additional Giffords leadership, the Golden State Warriors and local community groups recently came together in Oakland to highlight the successes of Oakland’s violence reduction strategies through a Peace Walk and town hall demonstrating their support of Oakland’s transformative community-based efforts to reduce gun violence.

A 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.

In 2017, over 2,000 people were murdered in the state of California, more than 70% of whom were killed with a firearm. Violence in the state is concentrated geographically, with more than half of all homicides occurring in just 12 of California’s 400+ municipalities. Gun violence in California, as in many other states, also has a disparate impact on people of color. Violence kills as many Black men and boys, aged 15-24, as nearly every other cause of death combined.

Giffords has organized a broad coalition of organizations to create and advocate for the CalVIP program, but the program needs sustained funding. States that have had the most success in reducing violence in recent years, like New York and Massachusetts, spend many times more than California 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.