Lt. Gov. Davis hails gun violence efforts


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In Harrisburg last week, Lt. Governor Austin Davis hosted a roundtable discussion with local and state leaders, representatives of law enforcement, community organizations and victim’s advocates to showcase the strategies and efforts that have resulted in Pennsylvania showing the second-biggest improvement in gun-related homicides.

“Pennsylvanians deserve to be safe and feel safe, no matter what they look like or where they live, but that feeling of safety has been shattered for many people in Harrisburg and surrounding communities,” Lt. Gov. Davis said. “The Shapiro-Davis administration is taking a holistic approach to addressing the epidemic of gun violence, and the strategies we’re funding – supporting law enforcement, as well as community-based organizations that help to prevent violence – are starting to see results. There is still a lot of work to be done, but we should celebrate progress. More importantly, we should keep investing in strategies that are working, so we can bring that progress to more communities.”

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Included in the roundtable was a call for additional efforts to reduce violence and make communities safer.

Last February, Gov. Josh Shapiro proposed a state budget that included a $100 million investment to prevent gun violence across the state.

While gun violence rates are still unacceptably high, several municipalities in Pennsylvania that are using evidence-backed, community-based strategies are seeing improvements.

A report by the Center for American Progress found that Philadelphia has seen the most significant decline in gun violence per capita, among the nation’s biggest cities, so far this year.

Among the proposals in the budget were an $11.5 million investment to creating a statewide Building Opportunity through Out of School Time program. Further, $1 million was allocated to create an Office of Gun Violence Prevention within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD), plus and additional $1 million for funding of a Firearm Injury Prevention Program within the Department of Health.

“PCCD plays a vital role in ensuring the safety and well-being of our communities here in Central Pennsylvania,” state Rep. Patty Kim said. “By supporting initiatives that prevent crime, help victims and rehabilitate offenders, PCCD works tirelessly to create a better Pennsylvania. Their efforts in promoting innovative programs, providing critical funding and fostering collaboration among law enforcement, community organizations and the public are indispensable.”

The budget also includes a $37.5 million increase to PCCD’s Violence Intervention and Prevention (VIP) program. The VIP program supports a wide range of efforts designed to reduce violence by relying on local groups that are in tune with their communities.

“Six years ago, the VIP grant program didn’t exist,” state Sen. Vincent Hughes said. “Now we see the positive impact it’s had on communities and especially our young people – now is not the time to pull back from this investment. These are funds that will go directly to efforts at a local level to continue our progress and more community safety. Lives are being saved because of this grant program, and we must continue to ensure community groups are able to continue their impactful work.”

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