Statement from the Coalition on recent events and gun violence prevention

May 31, 2020

Dear colleagues, allies, and friends,

 

We, like all of you, are angered and shaken by the events of the past few weeks. The recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and the racially driven assault on Christian Cooper have further exposed deeply entrenched systemic inequities, causing additional pain to communities of color already profoundly impacted by the crisis of COVID-19. The Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence is dedicated to violence prevention that is grounded in public health and safety and informed by our almost 100 member organizations. We are committed to doing our work through the lens of racial and economic equity. For those reasons, it is of utmost importance that we raise our voices to acknowledge the pain caused by these traumatic events and call out the structural racism and oppression that drive them. It is also critical that we express the actions we plan to take to address these issues.

 

There are so many factors that have contributed to recent events: police brutality, the use of guns to threaten, harm, and kill people of color, and the weaponization of race itself. We must address police-involved killings as a part of the work of gun violence prevention, understanding that for black men, the risk of being killed by a police officer is 2.5 times higher than that of a white man. We know that police officers are not a monolithic entity, and come with different levels of understanding and commitment to racial justice. We have seen many instances of police officers and leaders marching in solidarity with protestors in their communities. And still we must also confront the systemic issues within law enforcement that recent deaths have laid bare. Black people experience too much gun violence, and violence as a whole, at the hands of police officers. We are committed to coalition building, challenging those inequities, and finding solutions to change that narrative.

 

Now, for action steps. A key aspect of our work is to support primary prevention and the efforts of our member organizations. Many of those organizations are doing the work of violence prevention, intervention, and trauma response in communities most impacted by violence, and have been doing so even throughout the crisis of COVID-19. Their work is critical, especially now. We are committed to advocating for those programs to ensure they have the resources they need to reach young people who have experienced high rates of violence. These organizations provide youth and young adults with access to job training, educational resources, mentoring, and trauma support, among other things. Ultimately, these essential programs restore access to opportunity - access too often denied to them as a result the structural racism and economic disparity that are root causes of violence. Our work is to be in coalition with those programs and the communities they serve to rectify that.  

 

Our mission is to create a world where all of us can live free from the trauma of gun violence in all its forms: community based violence, police involved killings, or weaponized hate. We look forward to partnering with all of you, to having difficult conversations, and to working in coalition to create safety and equity for us all.

 

Respectfully,

Ruth Zakarin, Executive Director

Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence

MASSACHUSETTS COALITION TO PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE COMMENDS FUNDING IN BUDGET FOR YOUTH PROGRAMS

July 25, 2019

The Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence is very pleased to share that the 2020 budget enacted by the Massachusetts Legislature includes significant support for key programs known to be effective in preventing gun violence. Upon final approval from Governor Charlie Baker, over $26 million dollars will be slated for YouthWorks and the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI), two models proven to reduce rates of violence among young people living in communities most impacted by the trauma of gun violence. The Coalition has been actively advocating for funding for both of these initiatives, and we are deeply appreciative of the efforts of the many legislators who have worked towards this outcome.

 

SSYI, a violence prevention strategy targeting high impact youth, provides essential interventions for young men between the ages of 17 and 24 at highest risk of perpetrating or becoming victims of gun violence. SSYI programs include case management, educational opportunities, workforce development, mental health support, and substance misuse services. This comprehensive model has shown amazing results, including a 25% drop in homicide victims in the communities receiving the funding. Six years ago, SSYI was funded at $4 million dollars, but with the current budget $10 million will be allocated towards these programs. This increased funding will also allow for an expansion of services to include young women.

 

YouthWorks is a state-funded youth employment program that supports teens with limited financial resources in developing skills they can use to find and maintain jobs. The power of this program is that it addresses one of the root causes of gun violence: lack of opportunity and access to resources. The budget allocation of over $16 million will ensure that YouthWorks will continue to provide critical employment opportunities to youth across the Commonwealth.

 

The Coalition is deeply appreciative of the conference committee, led by Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues and House Ways and Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz, as well as all of the legislators who have championed these programs. Their leadership, along with Senate President Karen Spilka and House  Speaker Robert Deleo, has been integral in securing funding that will enhance safety and opportunity for youth disproportionately impacted by gun violence. “The legislature has shown a willingness to invest in our youth,” said Ruth Zakarin, the Coalition’s Executive Director. “Our lawmakers have sent a message to young people that is extremely important, that adults care about their safety and believe in their ability to succeed. Additionally, when young people tell us what programs they need in their communities, we are ready to listen and act.”

 

Janet Goldenberg, Chair of the Coalition Steering Committee, added, “Massachusetts has had the lowest rate of gun deaths in the nation thanks to the courage of our lawmakers, but there are far too many communities in the Commonwealth still being devastated by gun violence. SSYI and Youthworks are research based programs proven to address the underlying roots of this violence. I applaud our legislators for prioritizing them in this year’s budget.”

 

The Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence hopes that Governor Baker will sign the budget and lend his support to these programs. The Coalition looks forward to our continued work with the legislature and our nearly 100 member organizations to build on this work and ensure that all residents of the Commonwealth can live free from the fear of gun violence.

Statement of Janet Goldenberg, Chairwoman of the MA Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, on signing of the Extreme Risk Protection Order bill on July 3, 2018:


"The Coalition is thrilled that the Extreme Risk Protection Order bill we worked so hard to pass was signed into law by Governor Baker this week. We are very grateful to bill sponsor Rep Marjorie Decker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senator Majority Leader Cindy Creem and Senate President Harriette Chandler for all of their hard work to make the bill a strong and effective measure. We are also grateful to Rep David Linsky who first called this legislation to our attention when he filed a similar measure earlier in the legislative session.

"This bill is a reasonable measure narrowly tailored to give families a mechanism to intervene before a tragedy occurs by having guns removed from a loved one in narrow circumstances. As Governor Baker said at the bill signing, MA is now the only state that has outlawed bump stocks and enacted a Red Flag bill. This bill will protect the public and save lives. And it is not by accident that MA has the lowest rate of gun deaths in the country. It is because of our leadership’s willingness to pass sensible gun safety measures that protect the public while respecting the rights of lawful gun owners. Recent research shows that 97% of gun licenses applied for in MA are granted— it is in that tiny 3% denied that guns are kept out of the wrong hands and lives are saved. This bill is a natural extension of that concept which is already working so well in MA."

"The Coalition is thrilled that the Extreme Risk Protection Order bill we worked so hard to pass was signed into law by Governor Baker this week. We are very grateful to bill sponsor Rep Marjorie Decker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senator Majority Leader Cindy Creem and Senate President Harriette Chandler for all of their hard work to make the bill a strong and effective measure. We are also grateful to Rep David Linsky who first called this legislation to our attention when he filed a similar measure earlier in the legislative session.

"This bill is a reasonable measure narrowly tailored to give families a mechanism to intervene before a tragedy occurs by having guns removed from a loved one in narrow circumstances. As Governor Baker said at the bill signing, MA is now the only state that has outlawed bump stocks and enacted a Red Flag bill. This bill will protect the public and save lives. And it is not by accident that MA has the lowest rate of gun deaths in the country. It is because of our leadership’s willingness to pass sensible gun safety measures that protect the public while respecting the rights of lawful gun owners. Recent research shows that 97% of gun licenses applied for in MA are granted— it is in that tiny 3% denied that guns are kept out of the wrong hands and lives are saved. This bill is a natural extension of that concept which is already working so well in MA."

MA Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence Statement on Speaker DeLeo's announcement regarding Extreme Risk Protective Order legislation.

BOSTON, May 2, 2018-- The Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence made the following statement on Speaker DeLeo's announcement regarding Extreme Risk Protective Order legislation. If attribution is needed you can attribute this statement to Angus McQuilken, Co-Founder, Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence.

 

“The Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence applauds Speaker DeLeo for bringing this life-saving legislation to the floor for a vote, and Representative Marjorie Decker for her leadership in sponsoring this bill.  Speaker DeLeo has been a long-time advocate for common sense gun violence prevention laws, and was the first recipient of the Coalition’s Peace MVP award.  We’re grateful for his and our entire legislature’s continued courage in confronting the root causes of gun violence in all its many forms and we are grateful that he has taken this important step today. Thanks to the past actions we have taken, Massachusetts has the lowest gun death rate in the nation— but even so gun violence is impacting too many of our families and communities, and we can do better. This bill fills a significant gap in our gun laws, and represents an important step forward.”

MA Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence Statement on Extreme Risk Protection Order Bill Being Voted Favorably Out of Committee

BOSTON, April 13, 2018-- The Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence made the following statement on today's decision to vote H. 3610, an Extreme Risk Protection Order, out of Committee favorably.  If attribution is needed the quote can be attributed to MA Coalition Co-chair Janet Goldenberg.

"We commend Chairman Harold Naughton and Chairman Michael Moore and the members of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security for taking the next step in making an Extreme Risk Protection Order law a reality in Massachusetts. With recent polling showing that 89% of Massachusetts voters are in favor of this life saving bill, it is abundantly clear that the people want their legislators to create a meaningful mechanism for intervention when a gun owner is determined to pose an extreme risk to themselves or others. We look forward to continuing to work with state legislators to move this bill forward to a House vote in the coming weeks."

© 2018 by Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence

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