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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: January 9, 2020 05:02 PM
From: Senator Art Haywood
To: All Senate members
Subject: Gun Violence Prevention Grants
In the near future, I will introduce legislation to create a competitive grant program to support community-based violence reduction initiatives with demonstrated success at reducing gun-related violence.

Gun violence is a source of crimes and tragedies across the Commonwealth. In Pennsylvania in 2017, 77% of the homicides were committed with a firearm. In addition, out of the 1,636 deaths by firearm, nearly 1,000 took their own lives. Just last year, Philadelphia saw 2,615 aggravated assaults and 2,181 robberies committed with firearms, up from the year prior.

The Auditor General found in his 2017 report, A Safer Pennsylvania: A Community Approach to Firearm Safety, that between 2008-2017, 20,000 firearm-related injuries in the Commonwealth cost more than $2 billion; 14% were uninsured, and 62% were on medical assistance. Undoubtedly, this is a case where moral responsibility and fiscal responsibility meet.

We can reduce gun violence. One of the recommendations to the Senate Democratic Policy Committee hearing on gun violence in February 2019 was to support community-driven, evidence-based programming with small grant funding through programs like Cure Violence. Chicago’s successful Cure Violence program has reduced shootings by 41%. In Philadelphia, the program now called Cure Violence resulted in an 30% reduction in shootings.

The Auditor General’s report recommended the state should support communities in organizing violence prevention efforts proven to be effective. The American Psychological Association supports this, recommending support of community-based collaborative problem-solving models to address prevention and intervention of gun and group-related violence.

This legislation will create the Violence Intervention Program (“VIP”), a competitive grant program through the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency for municipalities disproportionately impacted by violence and community-based organizations that serve them. VIP Grants will be used to support, expand and replicate proven and effective community-based violence reduction initiatives primarily focused on providing violence intervention services to relatively small groups within a grantee’s community who are identified at the highest risk of perpetrating or being victimized by violence. Grant applications must include a plan for relevant stakeholder engagement and coordinating with existing violence prevention/intervention programs and service providers in the community to maximize impact. Eligible applicants will demonstrate evidence indicating the propose violence reduction initiative likely would reduce gun and group-related violence. Grant awards will depend on the scope of the grant proposal and the applicant’s demonstrated need for resources. VIP Grants shall be awarded from a fund of $30 million for a duration of three years.

Please join me in sponsoring this important legislation for all Pennsylvania communities.

Introduced as SB1029