Gun Violence Prevention
We won’t rest until
communities are safe.
The polling data have never been clearer, or more persuasive. The overwhelming majority of Americans—men and women, gun owners or not, Democrats, Republicans, and independents—want common-sense policies that will help keep us safe.
The Joyce Foundation is working to ensure that the voices of the people reflected in those poll numbers are heard across the nation.
Organizing states’ efforts
The victims of gun violence—the families of those slain at the Sikh temple in August 2012, those gunned down at a suburban Milwaukee spa in October, or those who were shot and killed at Accent Signage in Minneapolis—are eloquent witnesses to the destructive power of guns. Increasingly, survivors of gun violence are finding strong partnerships with Joyce grantees at the state level as the state groups work to build community support for stronger gun policies. For example, Joyce grantee Protect Minnesota is working closely with Sami Rahamim, whose father, Reuven, was shot and killed at Accent Signage Systems, the company he founded. Rahamim has worked with Protect Minnesota to strengthen community engagement around the need for stronger gun laws at the state and federal level. State efforts are critical: congressional reluctance to enact gun violence prevention policies has shifted the debate to the states and placed an added burden on state-level advocacy and outreach.
Empowering the faith community
America’s clergy are deeply concerned about gun violence in their communities and across the U.S. Faith leaders speak with moral authority and have influence far beyond their own congregations. At the national level, PICO National Network’s Lifelines to Healing campaign, supported by Joyce, is recruiting and training 100 clergy and lay leaders in 10 cities—including Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, and Philadelphia—to be effective advocates for gun violence prevention, with a particular focus on organizing urban communities impacted by gun violence. Shortly after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, PICO was crucial to organizing a vigil outside of the White House, mourning the victims of the tragedy and calling for federal action. PICO’s lead organizer, Michael McBride, an Oakland-based pastor, led more than 200 participants through the vigil, which generated international attention and catalyzed the public campaign for stronger gun laws after Newtown. At the local level, Joyce grantee the Faith Community of St. Sabina—which is located in a Chicago community hard hit by gun violence—is working to build a statewide coalition of faith leaders to educate policy makers and the media about the need for gun violence prevention reforms in Illinois.
Giving voice to teachers
Founded in 1857, the National Education Association represents 3.2 million educators and school support personnel, passionate advocates for the growth and development of our country’s children. Last year, the Joyce Foundation partnered with the NEA’s Health Information Network to involve teachers in the national conversation about how to reduce gun violence, especially among school-aged children. Since then, NEA’s Health Information Network has developed a program to make information and resources on gun violence prevention policy available to chapters nationwide. After the Newtown tragedy, NEA partnered with the American Federation of Teachers to raise the concerns of teachers about proposals to allow more guns into school buildings.
Supporting those who serve and protect
With Joyce support, law enforcement leaders concerned about the unacceptable level of gun violence in the U.S. have lent weight and impetus to gun policy reform.
The National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence—a coalition of nine of the nation’s top law enforcement leadership organizations—developed a policy agenda focused on strengthening the nation’s broken gun background check system. The partnership has been working to educate policy makers and the media about the need for comprehensive background checks and other policies that will protect officer and community safety.
The Police Executive Research Forum, whose members include chief executives of police agencies in the U.S. and around the world, has conducted research studies and convened meetings of law enforcement officials to identify strategies for reducing gun violence. In April 2012, PERF dedicated a session at its annual meeting to present the results of a study on urban gun crime and violence. The event garnered significant press attention, including from The New York Times.
Law enforcement leaders and other stakeholders explored those themes in Minneapolis at the Summit to Combat Gun Violence organized by Minneapolis mayor R. T. Rybak and Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett in January 2013. Nearly 100 participants, including federal, state, and local law enforcement professionals from five states, gathered to coordinate strategy and share information and best practices. Among the speakers, who included prominent researchers and policy analysts, were two who lent special urgency to the proceedings: Sami Rahamim and Dr. Mary Kay Balchunas. Balchunas’s son Jay was a Wisconsin Department of Justice special agent who was shot and killed in the line of duty in 2004.
“The trajectory of a bullet goes far beyond the initial piercing blow,” Balchunas said. “It is a watershed moment beyond which nothing is ever the same.” Praising summit participants for their commitment, she noted that multiagency and community partnerships were among the most effective solutions for ending gun violence.