Today, the Vice President and the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention (OGVP) hosted Community Violence Intervention leaders from across the country to recognize their efforts in reducing and preventing violence, and ultimately, saving lives. Community Violence Intervention programs are a key piece of the President’s Safer America Plan, with some behavioral science-informed CVI programs proven to reduce violence by close to 50%.
The event at the White House included a recognition of the inaugural graduating cohort of the University of Chicago Crime Lab’s Community Violence Intervention Leadership Academy (CVILA), which provides Community Violence Intervention (CVI) leaders with the skills and resources they need to improve their organizations and support their mission to prevent and reduce gun violence and save lives in communities disproportionately harmed by the direct and indirect consequences of gun violence.
In recognizing the CVILA cohort, Vice President Harris remarked, “The brilliance of this inaugural class and its leaders is the ability to see what can be, unburdened by what has been, and then to make it real in a way that will be replicated around our country. I congratulate everyone here and the graduates for all you have put into this and all you do for your communities.”
The Vice President’s full remarks can be viewed here: Community Violence Awareness Week Culminating Ceremony (youtube.com)
The Community Violence Awareness Week culminating ceremony followed a week of activity by the Office of Gun Violence Prevention, which kicked off its Community Violence Awareness Week with a message from the President to gun violence prevention stakeholders nationwide.
Other events for the week included.
- Tuesday: a convening of Black elected officials from across the nation to discuss the unique impacts of gun violence on the Black community and the significance of evidence-informed and community-centered initiatives to disrupt violence
- Wednesday: a virtual briefing with over 800 state legislators, local leaders, and gun violence advocates on the various community safety programs that are available through the Departments of Labor, Education, and Justice to support community violence intervention, ensuring all interested stakeholders have an opportunity to learn about the plethora of resources available to them thanks to President Biden’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) and the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), as well as other federal programs.
- Thursday: the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention travelled to Philadelphia and joined leaders from the Mayor’s Office, local law enforcement and survivors to see CVI strategies in action, including the New Options, More Opportunities (NOMO) Foundation, PowerCorpsPHL (an affiliate of AmeriCorps) and the Temple University Hospital Victims Advocate program.
- Friday: a national call with Black leaders to discuss the actions taken by OGVP and the President to reduce gun violence in Black communities.
Biden-Harris Administration continues to make major investments in community violence intervention and other proven solutions to end the epidemic of gun violence. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) has provided over $15 billion to prevent crime and promote public safety, including community violence intervention programs and crisis responders, while Bipartisan Safer Community Act —the most significant gun safety legislation in the last 30 years—provides $250 million in funding for community-based violence prevention initiatives, in addition to key investments for schools to expand mental health services and violence intervention programs.
We are already seeing the positive impacts of the President’s strategy to prevent and reduce crime and gun violence nationwide. According to 2023 FBI data, there has been a significant drop in crime – including one of the largest yearly declines in homicides ever. By comparison, during the final year of the prior administration in 2020, the United States saw the largest increase in murders ever recorded. We have also seen key provisions created by the BCSA begin to deliver results in making communities safer against gun violence, including recent announcements by the Department of Justice on stopping more than 500 illegal gun purchases by people under 21 years old who presented a danger to our communities, and hundreds of charges brought by the Justice Department for illegal gun purchases and firearms trafficking.
The President knows that more can and must be done, which is why OGVP, overseen by Vice President Kamala Harris, continues to implement BSCA and identify executive orders to save lives, while announcing new initiatives to encourage action at the state and local level. This past December, the Vice President convened 100 state legislators at the White House to launch the Biden-Harris Administration’s Safer States Initiative, providing states with additional tools and the support they need to reduce gun violence—and we have already seen states begin to answer the call and implement these critical measures. Last month, the Office of Gun Violence Prevention, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Justice, also announced new executive actions to help promote safe storage of firearms that implement President Biden’s Executive Order on promoting safe gun storage, which has been shown to dramatically reduce children’s risk of self-inflicted harm and unintentional shootings. These are just a few examples of the progress that is being made under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris to protect our communities, schools and children, and end the epidemic of gun violence that is leaving empty seats at dinner tables across the country.
The President continues to call on Congress to listen to the majority of Americans—and the majority of gunowners—who want to see more commonsense gun safety measures, such as universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, an end to the gun industry’s immunity from liability, and the passing of a national red flag law. As the President has said, this senseless violence is not normal and it is fully within our power to stop it.