California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday a record $156 million in grants as part of the California Violence Intervention and Prevention Grant Program, or CalVIP, to fund programs that combat gun violence.
Newsom’s initiative will focus on 79 cities that are disproportionately impacted by gun violence. The new CalVIP grant adds onto an initiative launched June 3 that is intended to make California schools and communities safer through a community-based outreach campaign to promote Gun Violence Restraining Orders, also known as “red flag” gun laws, according to a June 3 press release.
“Gun violence is an epidemic — too many Americans are forced to live in fear because of inaction,” Newsom said in the press release. “In California, we are taking action with common sense gun safety measures that get guns out of our communities and keep people safe.”
California has seen a significant decrease in its firearm mortality rates in comparison to the national average, according to a Brady California report cited in the press release.
The study report noted this lower mortality rate is correlated with the firearm laws that have been in effect since the early 1990s. California’s rate dropped by 55% from 1993 to 2017, whereas the national average decreased only 14%, the study read.
According to Natasha Johnson, a policy analyst at the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, an advocacy organization for incarceration and violence reduction, the previously estimated $7 million figure that was budgeted for violence prevention increased to $200 million this fiscal cycle.
$50 million of the funding will go to cities and about $100 million will go to community-based organizations, according to Johnson. In addition, with the approximately $50 million left over, a new request for proposal will be created to allow cities and community-based organizations to apply for the funding, Johnson said.
Johnson said the governor’s bill would help other states across the country look to California to “see what’s working” and be influenced to change. She added the proposal is not approaching violence through “punitive measures,” but rather that it is taking a “public health approach.”
Kyra Morris, a second-year UC Berkeley law student and co-leader of Berkeley Law’s Gun Violence Prevention Project, or GVPP, said she lost her brother in 2014 due to gun violence. In conducting legal research with GVPP, Morris said she feels her brother’s life is being acknowledged and that she is able to have a “stake” in ending gun violence.
“Governor Newsom’s program is a step in the right direction,” Morris said in an email. “Gun violence is a problem that needs to be addressed with all hands on deck. We cannot look away from this issue at the state, local, and national levels.”
Victor Corona, Sienna Reinders and Ayah Ali-Ahmad contributed to this story.