The Honorable Gavin Newsom
Governor, State of California
1303 10th Street, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Submitted via email
Dear Governor Newsom,
Founded in 1974, Brady United Against Gun Violence (Brady) works across Congress, courts, and communities, uniting gun owners and non-gun owners alike, to take action, not sides, and end America’s gun violence epidemic. Our work has the greatest impact when grassroots organizations are adequately resourced to tackle the immediate, pressing needs of those most impacted by gun violence. Because Brady is committed to an evidence-based approach rooted in public health and safety to gun violence prevention, we strongly encourage $39 million in funding for CalVIP in 2021.
The impact of gun violence on Black and Latinx Americans is staggering. The gun homicide rate for Hispanics is more than double that for their white peers, and Black Americans are over 11 times more likely than white Americans to die by gun homicide. The largest share of these killings occur in urban communities — 80 percent of gun homicides occur in such areas. According to the Center for American Progress, approximately 32 percent of California’s gun homicide victims are Black, but Blacks comprise only 6 percent of the state’s population; and Hispanics account for approximately 47 percent of gun homicide victims in the state, while accounting for approximately 38 percent of the state’s population. Nationally, gun violence is the leading cause of injury-related death for Black children and teens, who are 14 times more likely than white children and teens to die by gun homicide. In California, 3,876 people under the age of 21 were shot to death between 2008 and 2017. The pandemic has only worsened the vulnerability of residents in our most minority majority communities with an increase in firearm accessibility and a decrease in resources, resulting in rising shootings and homicides.
The repercussions in communities of color stretch well beyond the victims of gun violence themselves. The pervasive nature of gun violence produces collective trauma, and communities burdened by fear and pervasive shootings cannot prioritize such quality of life issues as investment in collective spaces. These impacted communities also bear numerous societal costs: depressed property values; lower rates of home ownership; fewer new retail and service businesses; diminished economic opportunities, such as prospects for career advancement; and lack of access to health care, healthy food, and social opportunities.
The means required to prevent gun violence in our communities are not singular. Our support and request for increased funds for CalVIP is demonstrative of our belief that addressing community violence requires a comprehensive approach. We must address the root causes of interpersonal violence — the “demand side” — or the impetus of violence will remain uninterrupted. We must also address the unfettered flow of guns into impacted communities — the “supply side” — or efforts at violence intervention will be unable to overcome the readily-available means of violence.
CalVIP funding is key to a demand side approach to reducing gun violence. The work of Advance Peace in Sacramento is an example of how a well-resourced violence prevention and intervention organization can reduce violence and save lives. Over the course of two years, the City of Sacramento allocated $1.35 million to the program which, according to an analysis by Institute of Urban and Regional Development at UC Berkeley, resulted in the prevention of 58 shooting incidents. While less shootings and potential homicides are an obvious benefit, there is a monetary value associated with a decrease in shooting incidents. The analysis highlighted what 58 potential homicides would have cost the city: $25.2 million. By investing in community interventions upfront, local and state governments can drastically reduce dollars on responding to violence and, could instead, spend those dollars on other services.
The safety of every California resident is of the utmost importance. Increased funding of CalVIP for violence prevention and intervention programs speaks to our values. Thank you for your continued leadership in the area of gun violence prevention.
President, Brady California
1 Thomas Abt, Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence: a Bold New Plan For Peace in The Streets (2019)
2 Hugh Richard Waters, Ph.D., et al., The Costs of Interpersonal Violence – An International Review, 73 Health Pol. 303 (2004).