Gun Violence Prevention Community Groups

Philadelphia, PA June 21, 2024 − Senator Vincent Hughes brought together anti-violence community groups, gun violence advocates, and lawmakers to highlight the impactful work of community violence intervention and the need for more state funds to support their efforts.

The press conference and rally was held following the release of data that showed a 16% decline in Philadelphia gun violence in 2024, compared to a national decline of 13%. The data was shared in a report from the Center for American Progress that stated Philadelphia and other cities seeing gains in public safety have, “made significant investments in more holistic and long-term approaches to improving public safety…like supporting vulnerable community members, investing in community violence intervention models, and bolstering data tracking and gun violence reporting to better foster case resolution.”

“We can stop gun violence by investing in communities,” said Senator Hughes. “We can help neighborhood based organizations keep the momentum going of what they have already achieved and do even more. If we invest in communities, they will respond. We can’t walk away from this responsibility. From this data, we can see it’s clear that investing in neighborhood based anti-violence and youth related organizations is fundamental part of the reduction in crime.”

The Philadelphia press conference and rally was held in recognition of Gun Violence Awareness Month and as lawmakers in Harrisburg are negotiating the state’s next budget. Governor Shapiro has proposed $100 million for Pennsylvania’s Violence Intervention and Prevention (VIP) grant program.

Since 2018, more than 250 awardees have received over $212 million in VIP grants.

The program was started in 2018 by leadership from Senate and House Democrats. The impetus for the program was to focus on preventing gun violence by investing in community organizations, made up of friends and neighbors, who are trusted messengers. Their participation has been critical in stopping violence and promoting public safety.  

Bryana Crump, Literacy Director at Mighty Writers, a VIP grant recipient, said, “I am a victim of gun violence, and still today I’m here and persevering. I’m encouraging children and families who are in my same predicament to fight past their hardships. At Mighty Writers, we provide free programs for kids to pursue their goals. We are educating kids, mentoring kids, and giving them opportunities to be empowered.”

At the press conference, Senator Hughes and fellow speakers highlighted the need for more funding for this critical program. Reverend Gregory Holston, Chair of the Black Clergy Gun Violence Committee, said, “For a long time, people did not understand that public safety starts with community organizations. Mothers in Charge, Frontline Dads, so many of the organizations standing here today, have been on the ground leading this reduction in gun violence. It all starts with community, and we can do so much more.”

Adam Garber, Executive Director of Ceasefire PA, said, “The Violence Intervention funding is the fundamental only change, unfortunately, we’ve been able to make in Pennsylvania to stop gun violence. The astounding work of people who go into communities and intervene in the violence before it happens, counsel people after, and support our youth, is making a difference. Now is not the time to take our foot off the gas because it’s working.”

Lawmakers also discussed three commonsense gun laws- universal background checks, red flag laws, ghost gun regulations- that have passed in the House of Representatives and are waiting for a vote in the Senate. Representative Donna Bullock explained, “These three bills are the front line in making sure we reduce the number of guns that are getting into the hands of folks who should not have them. This is commonsense gun legislation. The Senate has some work to do- we’re calling on Senate Republicans to call up these bills and make our children safer.”

“The Senate needs to finish the job on three commonsense pieces of legislation. We thank the House of Representatives for taking their role in the majority seriously, and we ask Senate Republicans to stop blocking progress on these laws, that the majority of Pennsylvanians support,” said Senator Hughes.

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

A full video of the press conference is available online.