The Guns-Over-People party has trained us to see gun violence as only a societal, mental or a criminal issue.
“It’s time to flip the narrative. These mass shootings, and the 1000s of daily tragedies behind them, are not inevitable. We can reduce gun deaths, just like we did for cars, by acknowledging that firearm injury is, at its root, a health problem—and that solutions are within reach.” – Megan Ranney MD MPH, Professor of Emergency Medicine and Associate Dean of the School of Public Health, Brown University.
We know that more Americans die of firearm deaths than car accidents. In fact, firearms are now the leading cause of death for children and adolescents in this country. The GOP gives us nothing but “thoughts & prayers, and lies about “mental health“, while actively refusing to fund it. We can do better.
Action #1: Tell our legislators to start listening to the nation’s health experts.
- Do right-to-carry laws increase or decrease violent crime? (Evidence is coming in that “INCREASE” is the right answer. Eight “may issue” states, including CA, have lower lower homicide rates than the 42 “shall issue” or “no permit” required states.)
- Which violence prevention programs for children, teens and adults are most effective?
- What are the effects of different gun safety technologies on violence, crime, suicides and accidental deaths?
- What are the links between firearms policy and suicidal behavior?
- What are the root causes of violence? Places with higher rates of gun violence also have higher rates of domestic violence, child abuse, and other types of assaults. How do racist policies and economic inequity affect it?
The bills below match their recommendations.
(Rep./Sen. contact information is located below Action #3. Make sure your relatives and friends in RED states clobber theirs with calls too. Every day. Will the GOP’s corrupt lickspittles vote to ban assault weapons? Probably not. But lots of angry constituent calls could move the needle on research and safe storage bills.)
Action #2: Tell Biden to take emergency action
(Indivisible San Francisco put together a letter as a sample.)
Contact Joe here. (https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/)
Dear Joe. We and our children are trapped in a national health emergency. Our right to life has been subordinated to the gun industry’s right to sell deadly automatic weapons without restraint of any kind while mass shootings accelerate and intensify. We don’t believe the Senate can enact an effective bipartisan bill at this time. We need bold action from you to give us some breathing room to overcome our national trauma of gun violence against children in school, friends at worship services, and seniors out shopping.
We urge you to:
- Declare gun violence a national public health emergency, with the short-term goal of unlocking at least $1 billion in funding under the Stafford Act to be distributed to states upon a governor’s request, to be used for community intervention programming and data collection with a public health lens.
- As Vice President Harris called for during her campaign, have the ATF revise the legal definition of federal “gun dealer” to anyone who sells at least five firearms a year for profit, thereby making them subject to federal firearms legislation. Then revoke the licenses of dealers that willfully violate the law, and order federal authorities to pursue them in court. Make sure the ATF has enough resources to adequately inspect gun dealers.
- Order the Surgeon General to study and issue a report on gun violence as a health emergency.
- Issue an executive order requiring background checks for all gun sales and prohibiting the sale of semi-automatic weapons to anyone under the age of 21.
- Instruct Attorney General Garland to pursue and prosecute interstate and transnational gun trafficking vigorously and with all possible resources.
Action #3: Call and email your legislators to pass the “Break the Cycle of Violence Act.“
(We’ve made this one a separate action, because it’s a paradigm-changer we want more people talking about.)
The Break the Cycle of Violence Act, H.R. 4118, would provide federal grants to communities for evidence-informed community violence intervention and prevention programs designed to interrupt the cycles of gun violence that disprorportionately kills young people of color and decimates their communities. The #BuildBackBetter Act includes $5B from Rep. Steven Horsord’s bill to stop violence, fund proven community-based prevention programs and build economic opportunity for our young people.”
- Minimal call script: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Rep./Sen. [___] to pass H.R.4118/S.2275 – Break the Cycle of Violence Act.
- Rep. cosponsors here. (Brownley is a cosponsor, Carbajal is NOT yet.)
- Senate cosponors here. (Feinstein is NOT a cosponsor yet, Padilla is a cosponsor
- Sample email script:
- Dear Representative/Senator [___],
I am calling on you, in partnership with Color of Change, Fund Peace, and the Invest In Us Gun Violence Prevention Coalition to prioritize passing the Break the Cycle of Violence Act.
We must understand gun violence as a public health crisis and address it with the same urgency as COVID-19. For decades, Black and Idengenious communities have borne the disproportionate impact of gun violence in this country. That’s why we are calling on you to look at gun violence through a public health lens, analyze root causes, and fund evidence-based community violence prevention programs.
We believe those closest to the pain must be closest to the power. That’s why we’re imploring you to leverage the expertise of those directly impacted by gun-related trauma. The Invest In us and Fund Peace campaign calls on Congress to support this bold and necessary investment to end the gun violence epidemic.
Sincerely, [Your Name]
- Dear Representative/Senator [___],
- Sign the Color of Change petition here: https://act.colorofchange.org/sign/BCVA/am_080521_petition_BCVA_stage1_link1
- Rep. Julia Brownley (CA-26): email, DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
- or Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24): email. DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
- Senator Feinstein: email, DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
- and Senator Padilla: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (310) 231-4494, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 981-9369, SD (619) 239-3884
- Who is my representative/senator?: https://whoismyrepresentative.com
Deeper Dive on the Break the Cycle of Violence Act.
Research has shown that a combination of community-oriented intervention programs and commonsense violence prevention policies can cut gun violence rates in urban cities in half in as little as two years without Those most affected by this carnage are disproportionately young people of color. Between 2015 and 2019, 72 percent of children murdered before their 18th birthday were people of color, and 50 percent were Black.
Other countries are figuring out how to stop violence. A study in Liberia showed verifiable results and is now being tested in Chicago. Ecuador reversed its thinking on gangs and murder rates plummeted.
Why not us? The human cost of gun violence is agonizing, the economic costs for communities and taxpayers is similarly staggering. Gun violence costs the United States $280 billion every year—with each American bearing $700 of this cost annually. A single gun homicide costs taxpayer $448,000 in medical and criminal justice expenses. Beyond that, school buildings have been razed or completely remodeled after school shootings, to tremendous cost. The Break the Cycle of Violence Act would be an effective solution to saving both lives and taxpayer dollars.
Who endorses this? It’s supported by a broad coalition of community partners, including Giffords, Community Justice Action Fund, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety, Faith in Action, and Amnesty International, among others.
The full text of this bill can be viewed here.
What does it do? Specifically, the Break the Cycle of Violence Act would do the following:
- Require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to award $5 billion in grants over eight years to community-based, nonprofit organizations and eligible units of local government to create and/or support:
- Community outreach programs.
- Hospital-based violence intervention programs (HVIP) that provide intensive counseling, peer support, case management, mediation, and social services to patients recovering from gunshot wounds and other violent injuries.
- Group violence interventions strategies, which are a form of problem-oriented policing that provides targeted social services and support to individuals at highest risk for involvement in community violence, and a process for community members to voice a clear demand for the violence to stop.
- Violence interruption and crisis management initiatives.
- Create an Office of Community Violence Intervention at the Department of Health and Human Services to implement the Act.
- Establish a Community Violence Intervention Advisory Committee to provide advice and assistance to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Community Violence Intervention to carry out the Act.
- Create a National Community Violence Response Center to provide technical assistance to grantees in the implementation of coordinated community violence intervention and prevention programs funded through the grant program.
- Direct the Secretary of the Department of Labor to create a $1.5 billion grant program for eligible organizations and units of local government to provide job training, education, apprenticeship, skilled trades training, or other paid or unpaid work experiences for opportunity youth in communities disproportionately impacted by violence.
- gun violence is a systemic public health issue, and addressing it requires systemic solutions
- lawmakers must invest in proactive, community-led policy interventions and support proven methods to reduce violence
- interrupting the cycle of community violence, requires seeing gun violence as more than an individual problem, but as a threat to an entire community’s health
- to end gun violence, we must also educate, and empower people to prevent interpersonal violence that can lead to gun violence, including intimate partner violence, sexual violence, racial and ethnic hate-based violence, and violence against LGBTQ people, particularly Black and other transgender women of color.
- it is critical that our elected leaders enact policies that refrain from constant over-policing, which drains funds from critical services, and leads to mass incarceration
(Color of Change) Gun violence is a public health issue that requires real solutions, not carceral consequences. If we learned anything last year, it’s that maintaining safety in our communities requires divestment from policing as the default response to the crisis. Most lawmakers want us to believe that violence is simply a matter of deviant behavior— but poverty produces violence, and policies increase violence.
For decades our policymakers have relied on “law and order” rhetoric because criminalization conditions us to assume violence is a problem with “dangerous” individuals, instead of a national epidemic with social context and history. Make no mistake: Gun violence is a public health crisis. That’s why we are calling on Congress to pass the Break the Cycle of Violence Act, which includes $5B for gun violence prevention programs. We need to trust in the expertise and solutions of those most proximate to the harm. With this investment of our federal tax dollars, we have an unprecedented opportunity to build an infrastructure of healing while also disrupting cycles of violence.
As city officials continue to justify directing federal funds to police as a solution to an increase in “crime”, gun violence is at a historical low, that’s because of the work gun violence intervention groups have been doing for the last two decades on a shoestring budget. And now, a momentary uptick in gun violence is being exploited by police to increase their power. an enormous percentage of relief money distributed for communities to survive and rebound from the pandemic— is being looted. But with The Break the Cycle of Violence Act, we have the chance to win a historic investment in local GVP efforts that we’ve never seen before.
Join us in demanding that our policymakers prioritize solutions to the social issues that cause crime, instead of terrorizing communities. The Break the cycle bill, is an opportunity to reclaim public safety and create accountable communities in service of equity and healing. We need Congress to take action now!
Read the Research on guns as a health care crisis!
- (Medium) THE BUFFALO TOPS SUPERMARKET AND UVALDE, TEXAS, MASSACRES. ANOTHER NORMAL DAY IN AMERICA. IT’S WHO WE ARE. It’s the System, Stupid
- Policies that Work to Reduce Gun Violence forum: Video
Presentation slides (PDF) Introduction and Overview, Panel 1, Panel 2
- Read about the forum in this article from The Nation’s Health
- APHA webinar: Gun Violence Prevention through the Public Health Lens: History, Intersectionality and Interventions
- From The Nation’s Health: Federal funding for gun violence prevention research sparks hope
- APHA President Pam Aaltonen: Progress on gun violence prevention constrained by unanswered questions (The Nation’s Health)
- Webinar for APHA members: Gun Violence as a Public Health Issue
- Fact sheet: Who Gets Killed in America? The National Violent Death Reporting System is Keeping Track (PDF)
- Troisi, Williams: Public health approach can stem gun violence (PDF, Houston Chronicle)
- “Gun Violence is an epidemic. It is time for a public health response” (editorial in The Guardian by APHA’s Georges Benjamin)
- Diagnosis: gun deaths and injuries are a public health issue (editorial by APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD, and Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence President Dan Gross)
- The rate of gun-related murders fell sharply in the 10 years after Connecticut implemented a law requiring people buying firearms to have a license, according to a study (CNN article based on American Journal of Public Health study findings)
- Community preparedness resources for active shooter incidents (NACCHO)
- (WAPO) Republicans blame mental health issues for gun violence. So where’s the money for care?
- (Time) We Must Treat Gun Violence as a Public Health Crisis. These 4 Steps Will Help Us Reduce Deaths
- (Atlantic) An ER Doctor’s ‘Third Way’ Approach to the Gun Crisis – Why violence demands not just policy solutions, but public-health ones
- (Salon) Gun violence is the health care crisis we’re ignoring. Few medical schools train doctors on how to treat injuries stemming from gun violence
- (UCLAhealth) Seeing gun violence as a public health issue
- (RWJF.org) Gun Violence, a Public Health Epidemic – A collection of analyses and research findings on gun violence as an urgent public health problem.
- (NPR) What it would take to treat gun violence as a public health crisis
- (healthline) Why viewing gun violence as a health concern is such a complex issue
- (newsweek) Republicans Are Blaming Mental Health for School Shootings After Refusing to Fund It | Opinion
- (apsapedsurg) Statement from the American Pediatric Surgical Association Board of Governors – Ban assault rifles