WASHINGTON — Today, Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, released the following statements after President Joe Biden signed the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act of 2021 into law. Earlier this week, the Senate unanimously passed the bill introduced by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) in the Senate and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) in the House. The bill passed the House in March with a wide, bipartisan majority (384-38).
Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grants are the largest source of federal funding for programs providing services for victims of all types of crimes. Victims of Crime Act victim assistance funds can be used to support services for victims and survivors of gun violence, including crisis intervention, safety planning, mental health counseling, case management, and peer-to-peer support. However, the federal Crime Victims Fund that provides funding for VOCA grants has been depleted, and states are experiencing enormous cuts to their awards, putting victim services programs at risk.
The simple fix in this legislation ensures that monetary penalties from deferred prosecution or non-prosecution agreements go into the Crime Victims Fund, just as monetary penalties from convictions do, and makes other vital updates to the law.
“VOCA grants help community-based organizations heal victims, families and communities while preventing future gun violence but, due to a technicality, funding for these grants was set to run dry. We are proud that President Biden signed, and a bipartisan majority in the House and every single Senator passed, this bill in order to fix this critical program,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “We are thankful for Senator Durbin and Congressman Nadler’s leadership in making sure that Congress made this overwhelmingly bipartisan fix, protecting these crucial services for years to come.”
“Thanks to this new law, survivors of gun violence, domestic violence and other crimes will be better supported as they work to recover from these traumatic events,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “This is a major victory for survivors and one we hope will be followed with further action by Congress on common-sense gun safety measures.”
Last year, Everytown released a report, A Fund for Healing, detailing how VOCA victim assistance funding can be used for gun violence victim services. Earlier this year, Everytown released a report, Hurdles to Healing, on state victim compensation programs and how they can be fixed to increase equity and access for gun violence survivors.
This continues to be the strongest gun safety administration in history, as evidenced by President Biden’s historic executive actions to address gun violence, his long record of taking on the NRA and passing life-saving laws, Vice President Kamala Harris’ years of gun safety advocacy, and the unmatched gun sense cabinet they have built. President Biden has prioritized gun safety since entering office, from combating deadly, untraceable ghost guns, to the Department of Justice’s development of a strategy on reducing violent crime and a new, annual comprehensive report on firearms trafficking, to the new comprehensive strategy to address gun violence that includes efforts to fight gun trafficking and investments in community violence intervention programs. His administration’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2022 also included $200 million to a new community violence intervention program as a part of historic investments in gun safety.