Today, the House of Representatives passed President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act, moving this historic legislation a critical step closer to becoming law. Among other things, the Build Back Better Act will make historic investments in community violence intervention programs focused on preventing gun violence. The House vote came against the backdrop of a country roiled by rising gun violence. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, in 2020 the United States experienced the largest rise in the murder rate in decades and it’s continuing to rise in 2021. The Build Back Better Act will allow communities across the country racked by gun violence to employ and scale evidence-informed community violence intervention strategies.
“The Biden-Harris administration understands that in order to build back better, we need to build up community-based programs designed to stop the shootings before they start,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “We applaud the House for listening to the American people and advancing the Build Back Better Act. Now, we need the Senate to follow suit and provide much-needed support to neighborhoods on the frontlines of America’s gun violence crisis.”
“This is a historic investment in community based solutions to the gun violence epidemic that is killing more than 100 people every day and wounding hundreds more,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “The Biden-Harris administration has continually shown that it’s the strongest on gun safety in history and we applaud the gun sense champions in the House of Representatives for passing this critical funding that will save lives. Our grassroots army is proud to support this and will continue working to get this to the President’s desk and signed into law.”
Community violence intervention programs identify those who are at the highest risk and work to reduce violence through targeted interventions, and these programs show great success in reducing gun violence. The proposed funding in the Build Back Better Act would be a targeted investment of $5 billion in America’s most impacted communities. This would be a necessary investment to root out violence before it happens, and would be a complement to other public safety strategies. The investment is grounded in work already being done by the Department of Justice and Department of Health and Human Services, and builds upon American Rescue Plan funds and existing federal grant programs that the Biden-Harris administration has advised should fund this work in the short term. There are several program models being used across the country:
- Street Outreach: a public health approach to fight violence where credible violence intervention specialists actively work to mediate conflicts, prevent retaliatory violence, and connect community members to social services;
- Group Violence Intervention (GVI): collaborative efforts between law enforcement, local community organizations, and community members to provide group-involved individuals at high risk of violence with social services, reducing violence without contributing to mass incarceration;
- Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Programs (HVIPs): a partnership between trauma centers or emergency departments and community-based organizations providing victims of violence with immediate conflict and case management in the hospital and connections to trauma-informed, wraparound services after hospital discharge.
This week, Everytown hosted a press call with Senior Advisor to the President and Director of the Office of Public Engagement Cedric Richmond, Reps. Steven Horsford (D-NV) and Robin Kelly (D-IL), Everytown Senior Director of Community Safety Initiatives Michael-Sean Spence, Community Justice Action Fund Executive Director Greg Jackson, and Senior Director of READI Chicago Eddie Bocanegra to discuss the importance of this historic investment and how it would impact people on the ground.
Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund (Everytown) is committed to expanding awareness of and access to these community-led violence intervention strategies. Everytown’s City Gun Violence Reduction Insight Portal (CityGRIP), for example, is one tool cities can use to understand which violence intervention strategies might be most appropriate for their own communities’ needs and resources. CityGRIP also allows cities to explore implementation case studies. Since 2019, Everytown’s Community Safety Fund has also awarded over $5 million in grants to support 70 community-based gun violence intervention organizations operating in 42 cities across the country.
Everytown is proud to be a member of the Invest In Us Coalition, which is comprised of community and national violence prevention organizations committed to building support for increased federal funding for evidence-informed community solutions to gun violence and educating leaders and the general public about proactive solutions to make our communities safer.