Even after receiving federal funding for anti-violence programs, New Orleans is still struggling to find solutions to gun violence, Scripps News reports. This past January, the New Orleans City Council met to discuss violent crime in a city with one of the nation's highest rate of homicides. The meeting stretched six hours, nearly half of that time filled by comments from those tired of needing to make them. "When you gotta go to a gas station with a gun on your hip," said one peron, "when you gotta go to the grocery store with a gun in your pocket — you're living in a war zone." Calvin Pep hears comments like these every day. For nearly a decade, Pep worked for the city as a "violence interrupter." He's part of a growing movement believing that in order to stop gun violence, you need to be in the community cutting off conflicts before they explode.
The movement has reached the White House. This fall the Biden administration announced the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence. Last fall it greenlit tens of millions of dollars toward community violence intervention, as research suggests it likely has an impact. For Pep, the story gets messy. "They came in and shut the program down," Pep said. He left in 2020 when he said the city got too involved in the violence interrupter program. The program all but shuttered that year, just as homicides began to rise. The city's current plan includes giveaways of biometric gun locks and a non-police-based 911 team. In January, the council voted for the Health Department to run a new intervention program based at a hospital using hospital employees as interrupters.