Center Will Gather Data, Publish Reports and Develop Strategies to Reduce Harm
RICHMOND, VA – Today, the Virginia Senate passed Sen. Jennifer McClellan’s (D-Richmond) bill (SB 487) to establish a gun violence prevention center, where public safety and public health experts can gather data as well as develop and release reports on violence caused by firearms. The bill passed with bipartisan support on a 24-16 vote.
Sen. McClellan’s bill would create the Center for Firearm Violence Intervention and Prevention at the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) and would be the state’s primary resource for research, best practices and strategies for implementing firearm violence intervention and prevention programs, including in regards to suicide and domestic violence. The data collected and reported on by the center would be shared among state and local agencies, higher education institutions, research institutions, hospitals and other medical care facilities, and community-based organizations. The bill would also establish training standards and publish model policies for law-enforcement personnel to follow.
“This bill will support Virginia communities in reducing gun violence that has taken too many lives across our Commonwealth,” Sen. McClellan said. “The Center for Firearm Violence Intervention and Prevention will gather clear facts about the epidemic of gun violence and provide strategic help to Virginia localities. I applaud the community leaders who have helped to advance this bill, and I look forward to passing it into law.”
Delegate Marcia Price (D-Newport News) carried companion legislation in the House.
“We need to take action in a comprehensive, strategic, and inclusive way to prevent gun violence,” said Del. Price. “This bill would be a gamechanger for localities, agencies, advocates, and residents to help make their communities safer.”
Former Gov. Ralph Northam included $27 million in his outgoing budget to start the Center. This bill will ensure the Center is a place that produces reports and provides analysis of statistical information revolving around firearm trafficking, crimes involving firearms, mass shootings, and suicides. The reports and analysis will translate into the development and publishing of best practices and technical assistance for local and community-based firearm violence prevention and intervention programs to help stop gun violence.
“I applaud the Virginia Senate for passing SB487,” said Lori Haas, Senior Director of The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “Providing solutions to gun violence through a public health lens and taking a holistic approach is what our communities desperately need to fight the ever increasing and grave impacts of gun violence on their citizens. I applaud and thank Senator McClellan’s and Delegate Price’s steadfast determination to fight the epidemic of gun violence in Virginia. The citizens of the entire Commonwealth will benefit from their efforts.”
“Policymakers, regardless of party or ideology, would benefit from a sustained, centralized initiative to separate fact from fiction and provide them with the information necessary to craft the wisest policies,” said Mike Fox, state legislative lead for the Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “We thank the Senate for taking action to create this agency and put the safety of Virginians first.”
Each year, more than 1,000 Virginians and 30,000 Americans are killed by guns. In the Commonwealth, about 65% of firearm-related deaths were a result of suicide and 33% were a result of homicide according to a 2019 report.
This bill also follows the announcement by the Centers for Disease Control in 2021 that they will fund gun violence prevention research for the first time in more than two decades. This funding for research was extended to VCU and the Virginia Department of Health.