RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced plans to invest $27 million into operating the Virginia Center for Firearm Violence Intervention and Prevention. He has proposed the money for the project in his budget weeks before leaving office.
“We lose a thousand Virginians to gun violence each year, and we must do everything we can to bring that number to zero,” Northam said. “The new research Center will collect important data that can lead to meaningful change. Gun violence is a public safety and a public health issue, and we have so much work to do to end this epidemic of violence. This data will save lives.”
The center would break down data to determine when guns are used in homicides, suicides, and accidental shootings. It would record what kind of gun was used and who owned the weapon.
"The information will be shared with state and local agencies, higher education institutions, research institutions, hospitals, and other medical care facilities, and community-based organizations," a statement from the Governor's Office read. "These efforts will receive assistance and resources from the Center. Additionally, training standards and model policies for law-enforcement personnel will be established and updated periodically."
In May, Richmond leaders declared gun violence a public health crisis.
The City of Richmond has experienced nearly 80 homicides so far in 2021. That is around 20 more than a typical year. Experts pinned some of that increase as an effect of the pandemic.
In 2019, VCU Medical Center received about 300 admissions related to gun violence. In 2020, that number increased by more than 50%, according to VCU Level One Trauma Center Medical Director Dr. Michel Aboutanos.
“We have seen not only an increase in violence but the type of violence," Dr. Aboutanos said in a May interview. "Instead of being shot a couple of times, multiple multiple times."
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