Philadelphia Senator Calls for Increased Funding to Combat Gun Violence

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PHILADELPHIA, PA — On Friday, Senator Vincent Hughes gathered anti-violence community groups, gun violence advocates, and lawmakers to emphasize the need for more state funding to support community violence intervention efforts. The call to action followed new data showing a 16% decline in gun violence in Philadelphia this year, surpassing the national decline of 13%.

Celebrating Progress and Calling for Continued Support

The press conference and rally highlighted the impact of community-based anti-violence initiatives. The Center for American Progress released a report stating cities like Philadelphia have benefited from “significant investments in more holistic and long-term approaches to improving public safety.” These efforts include supporting vulnerable community members, investing in community violence intervention models, and enhancing data tracking and gun violence reporting.

Senator Hughes emphasized the importance of continued investment in these programs. “We can stop gun violence by investing in communities,” he said. “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.”

The Role of the VIP Grant Program

Governor Shapiro has proposed $100 million for Pennsylvania’s Violence Intervention and Prevention (VIP) grant program as part of the state’s next budget. Since its inception in 2018, the program has awarded over $212 million to more than 250 recipients. These funds have been crucial in supporting local organizations that play a vital role in violence prevention and public safety.

Bryana Crump, Literacy Director at Mighty Writers and a VIP grant recipient, shared her personal experience with gun violence. “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.”

Legislative Efforts to Reduce Gun Violence

Lawmakers at the event also discussed three key pieces of legislation aimed at reducing gun violence: universal background checks, red flag laws, and ghost gun regulations. These bills have already passed in the House of Representatives and are awaiting a vote in the Senate.

Representative Donna Bullock stressed the urgency of passing these laws. “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.”

Broad Support for Anti-Violence Initiatives

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, a pediatrician at CHOP and Fellow at several institutes focused on violence prevention.

Tackling Gun Violence

The reduction in gun violence in Philadelphia demonstrates the effectiveness of community-based interventions. The proposed funding and legislative measures aim to build on this success by providing resources and legal frameworks to further reduce violence. Ensuring public safety and supporting vulnerable communities are essential for the overall well-being and stability of the city.

In conclusion, the call for increased funding and legislative action reflects a commitment to tackling gun violence through comprehensive and community-focused strategies. The progress made so far offers hope, but sustained effort and investment are needed to secure lasting change.

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