For More Information:
Adam Garber, CeaseFirePA Education Fund Executive Director, (267) 515-1220, firstname.lastname@example.org
Natalie Adams, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), (202) 228-6367
Sen. Casey, Rep. Evans, and Rep. McClinton Discuss Resources for Gun Violence Act & Investing in Community Prevention Programs
New Resources Could Address Surge of Gun Violence During and After Pandemic
Mass shootings increased 78 percent in 2020 Pennsylvania–and those are only a fraction of the Pennsylvanians who must find a way through the devastating damage of being shot or having a loved one shot. Newly proposed legislation from U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA-03) would help them navigate a variety of programs intended to provide them the mental, medical, legal, and financial support they need. Other efforts, including funding for community-based gun violence prevention programs, would help ensure violence does not spread.
“Society has an obligation to help victims cope with the devastating aftermath from gun violence. It is also good for our communities,” said Adam Garber, Executive Director for CeaseFirePA. “Public health investigations have revealed gun violence often spreads like a virus. Investing in community programs and supporting victims is a critical cure that we need to use efficiently and effectively. These programs will do that.”
The proposed efforts were discussed at a national webinar organized by CeaseFirePA on Wednesday that included Senator Casey, Rep. Evans, Pennsylvania State Senate Minority Leader Costa, Pennsylvania State House Minority Leader McClinton, and Aleida Garcia of the National Homicide Justice Alliance.
“The Resources for Victims of Gun Violence Act would connect gun violence victims with the resources, programs, and benefits that can help them,” said Senator Casey. “We must acknowledge the reality of this public health epidemic and make sure that survivors, families, friends and caregivers have the support they need to recover from gun violence and manage their longer-term needs. We must support the millions of Americans who have been affected by this issue and have struggled for too long.”
“I have voted for and continue to support passing legislation to reduce gun violence, like universal background checks for gun buyers and closing the Charleston loophole,” said Congressman Evans. “We must also help the victims and survivors — often they don’t know where to turn or what resources are available to them, which is why Senator Casey and I are reintroducing the Resources for Victims of Gun Violence Act.”
The bill would create an interagency Advisory Council composed of federal representatives from the Department of Health & Human Services, the Department of Justice, the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration and other agencies, as well as victims of gun violence and victim assistance professionals like social workers and medical professionals. The Council would help victims and survivors learn about resources, programs and benefits.
These efforts often dovetail with community violence prevention efforts, which can reduce violence on a neighborhood level.
“Collaboration of every level of government and in our communities will be key to stemming gun violence. So many of the deaths and injuries we see could have been avoided by common sense gun prevention measures. I’ll continue to cosponsor and support those efforts at the state level and I applaud our federal representatives for their work today on providing resources to the survivors of gun violence. It’s time we all say ‘enough’
“Our communities – in Philadelphia and across the Commonwealth – are crying out for the help they need to weather the storm caused by gun violence. I’m excited to support the work of my Senator and Congressman in Washington while at the same time pursuing funding at the state level for violence intervention programs,” House Democratic Leader Joanna E. McClinton said. “These kinds of programs work to fund violence reduction initiatives while also ensuring that victims of gun violence have access to the resources they need.”
Community violence prevention programs have been shown to significantly reduce gun violence by identifying at risk individuals, de-escalating situations, and intervening in spreading violence. One study found the Cure Violence model, just one of such efforts, can reduce community-based gun violence by up to 70%. The programs ultimately rely on community organizations who have close ties to the community to succeed, and yet limited funding requires many of these efforts to operate on a shoestring budget in dangerous and challenging situations.
“We all have a stake in ending gun violence. No one is safe until we are all safe. Providing for victims of gun violence helps us all,” said Aleida Garcia, Co-Founder and President of the National Homicide Justice Alliance. Her son Alex “Luchi” Rojas Garcia was murdered in a shooting in 2015.
According to advocates, without this timely intervention gun violence could remain elevated for years. They hope coordinated action at the federal and state level will treat this as a public health crisis, devoting resources to helping survivors and preventing more from being created.