Jun 17, 2009

Stopping Gun Violence

Recent shootings in upper Manhattan have again raised concerns about gun violence. Just this week two bystanders were hit by stray bullets, including an 11 year-old boy. Last summer a shooting spree injured eight in West Harlem. The sad fact is that children are too often victims of gun violence. The Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence’s fact sheet, Children and Guns a Lethal Combination, presents a chilling picture of gun violence in America:

• The rate of firearm death in the U.S for children under the age of 14 is 12 times higher than in 25 other industrialized countries COMBINED.

• Firearm homicide is the second leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 1-19 in the U.S.

• In 2005, firearms were responsible for 52% of African-American teen deaths, and 17% of Caucasian deaths.

In the face of increasing concern about gun violence, we wanted to highlight efforts that have worked to reduce gun violence.

Newark, N.J: The Greater Newark Safer Cities Initiative, led by the Rutgers University Police Institute, has been working to reduce gun violence among the high-risk parole population. The effort uses a collaborative approach involving criminal justice agencies, local service providers and faith-based groups. The Initiative, targeting parolees who are at high risk of engaging in violent crime upon their release, has reduced returns to prison for violent crimes.

Boston, M.A: Boston Ceasefire focuses on reducing gang related youth violent crime through tougher, targeted enforcement and effective intervention strategies. In one year Ceasefire was credited with reducing firearm violence by 68%.

Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN): A gun violence reduction effort led by local U.S Attorney’s Office, PSN uses enhanced prosecution for gun crimes and collaborative evidence-based strategies that target chronic and violent offenders returning to the community. PSN also focuses on prevention through public media campaigns and school-based gun violence education.

Key elements of these efforts include: using data to guide decision making; a focus on raising accountability for high-risk offenders; collaborations involving multiple criminal justice agencies, community organizations, and faith-based groups; strong messaging about the consequences of gun violence; and a strong focus on outcomes that holds criminal justice agencies’ accountable for results.