Richmond Democrats call for General Assembly, governor to pass budget amendments aimed at curbing gun violence

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Posted at 4:54 PM, Jul 26, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- A call Wednesday from Democrats for the General Assembly and the governor to act on gun violence.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and two Senate Democrats spoke outside the Capitol today alongside a half-dozen community activists to urge action on budget amendments that would fund community based anti-violence programs.

The local Democratic leaders’ budget amendments total $30,000,000. The programs would need to be passed this budget session and would come from the $5 billion surplus.

“There is funding right now, that could go to community violence intervention programs in this budget,” said Stoney. “Everyone wants Virginia to be the best place to live, work, and learn.”

The programs include organized after-school activities, mentoring, and violence interrupters, which one senator said was in tandem with gun laws already proposed by her colleagues.

“We must also build the necessary community resources to address gun violence at its roots, to tackle the social and economic factors that drive gun violence,” said Sen. Ghazala Hashmi. “We need to make visible the impacts that gun violence has on our collective community trauma, our health care systems and most especially on our young people.”

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The programs also involve survivors, health care workers, and community organizations.

One advocate says hospital interventions with victims of gun violence has reduced recidivism to 3%.

“Participation in the program has greatly reduced the likeliness of folks coming back in to the hospital,” said Rachelle Hunley, with the Virginia Coalition for Community Violence. “And so our recidivism rate for our hospital-based violence intervention program is around three percent.

Hiunley added that after-school programs have proven effective in keeping children safe.

“Out-of-schooltime programs has increased tremendously with that investment,” said Rachelle Hunley, with the Virginia Coalition for Community Violence.

“And as we know, participation in those out-of-schooltime activities reduces their likeliness of being involved in criminal activity, and in truancy.”

Gov. Youngkin's office released this statement in response to the Democratic proposals:

“The Governor is committed to improving public safety across the Commonwealth through Operation Bold Blue Line and additional funding priorities to bolster community safety outlined in the Governor’s proposed budget. We're pleased the Democrats are highlighting the need to fund violence intervention programs that the Governor has already dedicated resources and implemented initiatives to bolster. The Governor proposed a balanced budget totaling $3.6 billion in investments for education, law enforcement, behavioral health and providing tax relief for Virginians. With $5.1 billion in excess resources, Virginia has the ability to fund critical priorities and cut taxes now, Democrats need to stop holding press conferences and come to the table."

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