After the pandemic exacerbated gun violence and led to 2020 being one of the deadliest years in the last two decades, shootings have remained high for the first months of 2021. Shootings in February of 2021 were the highest they have been in the last four years, and over twenty people have been shot every weekend of March.
Two weeks ago, 40 people were shot, 4 fatally, with 15 shot in a mass shooting at a party in the South Side of Chicago. This past weekend, 21 people were shot including a police officer and a ten year old boy in separate incidents in the city’s West Side, and just last night eight people were shot, three fatally on the South Side of Chicago.
The pandemic has exacerbated the root causes of gun violence, in Chicago and across the country. Lack of access to opportunity is a key driver of gun violence, and the pandemic has brought an economic crisis. The economic fallout has also disproportionately affected communities where decades of policy decisions have created conditions that contribute to gun violence. “To put it bluntly,” Michael-Sean Spence, Everytown’s community safety initiatives director, wrote in Newsweek, “underinvestment in Black and Latino neighborhoods has created the environments in which public health epidemics thrive.”
In Chicago, volunteers with Moms Demand Action are advocating alongside local partners for increased funding for community-based intervention programs, including:
- Institute for Nonviolence Chicago, an organization seeking to interrupt cycles of violence and transform communities.
- IGrow Chicago, an Englewood organization working to heal individual and community trauma resulting from violence.
- Live Free Chicago, a faith-based organization working to transform Chicago communities from gun violence.
- Strides For Peace, an organization that empowers, amplifies, and collaborates with community organizations working to end gun violence.
In addition to increasing dedicated state funding for gun violence prevention and services for survivors of gun violence, state agencies should utilize federal Victim of Crime Act (VOCA) victim assistance funding to support local organizations serving survivors of gun violence and their communities.