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Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and PICO National Network Call for Stronger Legal Reforms and Community Collaborations
Many Urban Communities of Color Suffer Gun Homicide Rates 30 to 40 times National Average
Intervention Strategies Recommended in Report Have Cut Homicide Rates by as Much as 70%
SAN FRANCISCO, CA—The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the PICO National Network released a new report today, Healing Communities in Crisis: Lifesaving Solutions to the Urban Gun Violence Epidemic, that sheds light on the disproportionate impact of gun violence in urban communities—particularly within underserved communities of color—and analyzes strategies for confronting this dire problem.
While America’s gun homicide rate is much higher than comparable countries, the numbers are even more staggering when broken down by race and gender. Black men, for example, constitute just 6% of the US population, but account for more than half of all gun homicides each year. Urban neighborhoods with large communities of color too often suffer from gun homicide rates that are 30-40 times the national average.
Pastor Michael McBride, the Director of Urban Strategies for the PICO National Network, describes the report as a “wake-up call” to activists and policy makers. “For too long, we’ve talked about laws and intervention programs separately,” said Pastor McBride. “It’s time for us to realize that these solutions are two sides of the same coin. They work best when implemented together. As a movement, we have to advocate for both.”
The report emphasizes the need to address the issue of urban gun violence in a comprehensive manner, embracing both the implementation of strategic intervention programs at the community level and the enactment of smart gun laws such as universal background checks and restrictions on gun trafficking.
“Changing the shameful state of America’s gun laws is incredibly important—at the same time we also need to be intervening directly within the communities that are most vulnerable to gun violence,” said Robyn Thomas, Executive Director of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “We know that, in city after city, an incredibly small segment of the population drives the vast majority of gun violence. If we direct the right resources to that population, we can make a tremendous difference and save lives.”
Healing Communities in Crisis sheds light on strategies with strong track records of success. One such strategy, Group Violence Intervention, has reduced homicide rates as much as 61% in a number of American cities in as little as two years. Additionally, the report found that programs based on a public health model have shown great promise, employing tactics such as intervening when individuals are hospitalized with gunshot wounds to discourage retaliation and providing mental health services to those most likely to suffer violence-related PTSD.
The report highlights Richmond, CA, as a successful model of a comprehensive approach to preventing urban gun violence. Using many of the strategies outlined in Healing Communities in Crisis—including the creation of a city agency dedicated solely to gun violence prevention—Richmond recently cut its firearm homicide rate by over 70%, seeing the lowest level of shootings in decades.
“We can’t have a meaningful conversation about gun violence in America today without talking about the alarming gun homicide rate among people of color,” says Pastor McBride. “The good news is that proven solutions are available to confront this epidemic.”
Read “Healing Communities in Crisis: Lifesaving Solutions to the Urban Gun Violence Epidemic” at http://lawcenter.giffords.org/healing-communities
About the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence
Founded in the wake of the July 1, 1993, assault weapon massacre at 101 California Street in San Francisco that left eight dead and six wounded, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is now the premier resource for legal expertise and information regarding state and federal firearms laws. Made up of the foremost gun law attorneys in the nation, our staff tracks and analyzes firearms legislation in all 50 states, files amicus briefs in critical Second Amendment cases across the country, and works with lawmakers and advocates to craft and promote legislation that will reduce gun violence and save lives. We regularly partner with other organizations dedicated to combating the epidemic of gun violence in our country, and we invite you to explore our website, smartgunlaws.org, to learn more about our work and deepen your knowledge about gun laws in America.
About the PICO NATIONAL NETWORK
PICO National Network is the largest grassroots, faith-based organizing network in the United States. PICO works with 1,000 religious congregations in more than 200 cities and towns through its 60 local and state federations. PICO and its federations are non-partisan and do not endorse or support candidates for office. PICO urges people of faith to consult their faith traditions for guidance on specific policies and legislation. Learn more at piconetwork.org.