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Experts Call For Treating Gun Violence As A Public Health Issue

In “Toward a Fair and Just Response to Gun Violence,” a report by the Joyce Foundation, a group of advocates, prosecutors and defense attorneys, came together to address some of the hardest questions facing communities in 2022: how to reduce the devastating toll of gun violence experienced in many U.S. cities; how to limit the proliferation of guns - many owned illegally - in those same areas; how to do so without further undermining the relationship between police and communities of color; and how to do so without contributing to the over-incarceration of men and boys of color.

Gun ownership is on the rise, including in communities of color, and the predominant reason people give for owning guns is for personal protection, notwithstanding the growing body of evidence demonstrating the risks of doing so.

The group's three recommendations to reduce gun violence were expanding community-based interventions, emphasizing supply-side solutions to gun violence that curtail availability of illegal guns and refocusing the law enforcement response to illegal gun possession.

These recommendations can be accomplished in various ways such as treating community violence intervention (CVI) as a public health intervention, creating or expanding citywide offices of violence prevention and requiring licensing for handgun purchasers.

Congress could invest $5 billion in CVI over eight years as part of the Build Back Better legislation that is now stalled.

Along with an expansion of funding sources, there is also a need for organizations and networks that provide capacity-building and grant support to small CVI programs. Many small organizations face considerable challenges around applying for and accessing funding, including lack of awareness about funding opportunities and inadequate staffing for fund raising and development.

"We recommend that frontline community violence intervention and prevention specialists be formally designated as community health workers. Additionally, we recommend the establishment of a national accreditation for violence intervention and prevention specialist training. We also recommend the creation of training academies that focus on standard of care for violence intervention and prevention," the report says.


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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