A new report finds that community groups are a key factor in reducing gun violence in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania June 21, 2024 − Senator Vincent Hughes brought together anti-violence community groups, gun violence advocates, and lawmakers to highlight the impact of community violence interventions and the need for more state funding to support their efforts.

The press conference and rally took place after the release of data that showed that Gun violence in Philadelphia drops 16% in 2024 compared to a 13% decline nationwide. The data was made available in report by the Center for American Progress which stated that Philadelphia and other cities seeing improvements in public safety “have made significant investments in more holistic and long-term approaches to improving public safety… such as supporting vulnerable community members, investing in community violence intervention models, and improving data tracking and community violence operate of firearms reporting in order to better resolve the substitute case.”

“We can stop gun violence by investing in communities,” he said Senator Hughes. “We can help local organizations maintain the momentum of what they have already achieved and do even more. If we invest in communities, they will respond. We cannot avoid this responsibility. “It is clear from this data that investing in local anti-violence and youth organizations is an essential part of reducing crime.”

The press conference and rally in Philadelphia was held in honor of Gun Violence Awareness Month AND as lawmakers in Harrisburg negotiate the state’s next budget. Governor Shapiro offered $100 million for it Pennsylvania’s Violence Intervention and Prevention (VIP) grant program.

Since 2018, more than 250 winners have received VIP grants worth more than $212 million.

The program was launched in 2018 by Senate leadership and House Democrats. The impetus for the program was to focus on preventing gun violence by investing in community-based organizations made up of friends and neighbors who are trusted messengers. Their participation played a key role in stopping violence and promoting public safety.

Bryana Crump, Director of Literacy at Mighty Writers, VIP scholarship recipient, said: “I am a victim of gun violence and I am still here and I am not giving up. I encourage children and families who are in the same situation to overcome their difficulties. At Mighty Writers, we provide free programs for children that allow them to pursue their goals. We educate children, mentor them and empower them.”

At the press conference, Senator Hughes and other speakers emphasized the need for increased funding for this critical program. Rev. Gregory Holston, chairman of the Black Clergy Gun Violence Committee, said: “For a long time, people did not understand that public safety begins with community organizations. Responsible mothers, fathers on the front lines – so many of the organizations standing here today have led the way in reducing gun violence. It all starts with community, and we can do so much more.”

Adam Garber, executive director of Ceasefire PA, said: “Funding for Violence Intervention is unfortunately the only fundamental change we have been able to make in Pennsylvania to stop gun violence. The amazing work of people who go into communities and intervene in violence before it happens, counsel people after it and support our juvenile people is making a difference. This is not the time to take your foot off the gas pedal because it’s working.

Lawmakers also discussed three common-sense gun laws — universal background checks, red flag laws and ghost gun laws — that have passed in the House and await a vote in the Senate. Representative Donna Bullock explained“These three bills are the front line in reducing the number of guns ending up in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. This is common sense gun law. The Senate has some work to do – we urge Senate Republicans to pass this legislation and keep our children safe.”

“The Senate must finish work on three common-sense pieces of legislation. We thank the House of Representatives for taking its role in the majority seriously and ask Senate Republicans to stop blocking progress on these bills that a majority of Pennsylvanians support.” said Senator Hughes.

Other speakers at the press conference included Senator Art Haywood; Rep. Stephen Kinsey; Adam Geer, Chief Public Safety Officer for the City of Philadelphia; and Dr. Vivek Ashok, a pediatrician at CHOP and a fellow at the Penn Injury Science Center, CHOP Center for Violence Prevention and CHOP PolicyLab.

AND the full video of the press conference is available online.

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