The D.C. chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, and Training Grounds released the following statements after D.C. announced the 2021 proposed budget that cuts funding for gun violence prevention:
“D.C.’s most impacted communities continue to suffer from not one, but two public health crises at once,” said Rachel Usdan, volunteer with the Washington, D.C. chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Gun violence prevention programs have been making real strides in the city, and we cannot afford to reduce their funding. We look forward to working with the mayor and the D.C. Council to ensure that the final budget properly funds these lifesaving measures.”
“We look forward to continuing our violence intervention efforts,” said a spokesperson from Training Grounds. “We believe that our efforts can continue to be an impactful aspect of the District’s public safety plan for the communities we serve.”
Mayor Bowser’s budget for FY 2021 included an $805,000 cut to violence intervention programs. Community-based violence intervention and prevention programs apply localized approaches to gun violence prevention that are well-suited to address gun violence in the hardest-hit neighborhoods. These programs, such as Cure the Streets, identify individuals who are at the highest risk of shooting or being shot, and work to reduce violence through targeted interventions that include de-escalating potentially violent conflicts, providing case management support services, and transforming community norms around violence. During the pandemic, violence interrupters’ mission is two-fold: continuing the essential work of preventing gun violence, while also helping with food and PPE distribution to underserved communities.
Ensuring sustained funding for community gun violence programs during and in the economic aftermath of COVID-19 is critical to the long-term reduction of gun violence. Cities are making difficult decisions resulting in significant revenue cuts to programs and services. However, as decisions are being made about city budgets, city governments should ensure that any city funding for gun violence prevention is maintained.
When Illinois cut funding for Chicago’s Cure Violence program in March 2015, it saw its long term downward trend in violence reverse. 2016 was the deadliest year in Chicago in over 10 years. The only district that continued to see a reduction in shootings was District 4 – which was the only district that maintained full Cure Violence funding.
Gun violence in Washington, D.C. has shown no sign of slowing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The city’s homicide rate is on track to match its highest in a decade, and “like last year, the overwhelming majority of homicides involved a gun.” More information on gun violence in Washington, D.C. is available here.