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Giffords Calls on Gov. Newsom to Respond to Record Spike in Shootings by Funding Community Violence Intervention Programs

Washington, DCGiffords, the gun safety organization co-founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, joined a broad coalition of community leaders and survivors to call on California Governor Gavin Newsom to directly address the tragic spikes in shootings the state is facing. Their call focused on investing in community violence intervention programs in the May budget proposal he will announce in the coming weeks. 

In 2020, the US saw the largest spike in homicides and gun sales on record, and California’s spike was even worse: fatal shootings jumped 46% in California after the start of the pandemic and by even more in 2021. The toll of this violence has fallen overwhelmingly on the same communities most impacted by the pandemic. 

Speakers representing Giffords, Advance Peace, the California Partnership for Safe Communities, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, Faith in Action, and the Moms Demand Action Survivor Network explained how providing emergency support to the California Violence Intervention and Prevention (CalVIP) program is critical to addressing this crisis. The CalVIP program supports effective, community-based violence intervention programs across the state. 

Giffords Community Violence Initiative Director Paul Carrillo: 

“Our communities are suffering from a gun violence emergency, amidst a trying year of living through a pandemic. Neighborhoods are reaching a breaking point and the best way to help is through bold and serious action. It’s time to stop the violence, and keep families safe. Safety and security cannot be a privilege enjoyed by some, it must be shared by all. 

“Leaders like Governor Newsom have led the nation on gun safety before. We are counting on the Governor to do so now by taking the right steps to address California’s gun violence emergency and invest in community programs proven to save lives from violence. We must remain the nation’s leader on this issue.” 

More and more research has shown how effective CalVIP-supported programs are at saving lives, and saving taxpayer dollars too. Other leaders are taking note. This month, President Biden proposed an emergency federal investment of $5 billion in community violence intervention programs in his Jobs Plan and ordered 26 federal programs to prioritize funding for violence intervention programs in hardest-hit communities.

Governor Newsom’s January budget proposal included just $9 million for violence intervention efforts in California.


The California Violence Intervention and Prevention (CalVIP) Grant Program was established in 2017 and codified in the Break the Cycle of Violence Act, signed into law by Gov. Newsom in 2019. The CalVIP program provides competitive grants to support community-based violence intervention programs in cities impacted by homicides and shootings throughout the state. While CalVIP has become a national model for legislation passed in other states and introduced in Congress, CalVIP has been woefully underfunded in California.

Despite limited funding, CalVIP-supported programs have helped California make historic progress: in 2019, gun homicides among California’s 15-24-year old’s fell to the lowest rate since 1970. But since the start of the pandemic, communities have faced historic spikes in violence.

To respond to this ongoing gun violence emergency, a broad coalition of community leaders, gun violence prevention advocates, survivors, and lawmakers are calling on the Governor to provide an emergency investment of at least $114 million in CalVIP programs this year. California could fully fund this request with just 0.4% of its American Rescue Plan federal recovery funds and could sustain this emergency investment for the next three years with just over 1% of these funds. 

Many CalVIP-supported initiatives employ professional violence interrupters to:

  • Provide crisis response to shootings and homicides
  • Conduct outreach to engage at-risk young people, including victims of violence recovering in hospitals
  • Connect victims and individuals at highest risk with services that promote their safety and recovery from trauma, and prevent retaliatory violence, including conflict mediation, behavioral therapy and counseling, intensive case management, peer support and mentorship, relocation away from imminently dangerous circumstances, and job training and skills building