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Five Years After San Bernardino Shooting: Why Our Work Is More Important Than Ever

December 2, 2020   |   Brian Malte

Today marks five years since 14 people were tragically shot and killed and another 22 people injured at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. After the shooting, a diverse group of funders and community leaders came together for a groundbreaking summit to discuss how Californians can work together to address our gun violence epidemic that kills over 3,000 residents each and every year in our state. Just one year after this tragedy and months after the summit, the Hope and Heal Fund officially launched as the first California-based collaborative fund solely dedicated to ending the gun violence epidemic. Today, on our 4th anniversary, we are so proud that 15 philanthropic foundation partners stepped up to the plate to join Hope and Heal Fund, in addition to a growing number of individual donors who are investing in innovative solutions across the state. We are so appreciative of the support of our valued partners that has allowed us to add critical staffing expertise and capacity over the last four years.

Every year on this day we take a moment to remember the victims and survivors of the workplace shooting in San Bernardino and to let this tragedy serve as a reminder of the work we have ahead of us to eradicate firearm deaths, injuries, and trauma in our state. At Hope and Heal Fund, we work every day pursuing new and emerging solutions, advancing strategies that work, and adding value to the work in impacted communities across the state all through a lens of racial equity and public health while recognizing that all forms of gun violence are intersectional. Our new five-year strategic roadmap prioritizes healing-informed trauma prevention strategies, changing harmful media narratives associated with all forms of gun violence, and pushing for systemic change that puts communities first instead of an afterthought. Our mission at Hope and Heal Fund is simple – to keep our homes and communities safe and free from gun deaths, injuries, and trauma. 

This year, our work feels more important than ever. California is making national headlines as a new study from the University of California Firearm Violence Research Center and Violence Prevention Research Program shows that 110,000 Californians, including 47,000 first-time gun buyers, have purchased a gun from March through July in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Nationally, more than 7  million extra guns have been purchased year to date compared to the previous year. More guns in more hands and in more homes is a cause for massive concern and action as recent research suggests that during the first three months of the pandemic, fatal and nonfatal firearm-related injuries nationwide have risen substantially. And, just as troubling, a new study shows that nearly 70% of those who bought a firearm during the COVID-19 pandemic reported having suicidal thoughts throughout their lives, compared to 37% of current gun owners.

We know that this past year has been incredibly hard for everyone, especially communities of color and our marginalized communities. Communities were struggling before COVID-19 wreaked havoc on their lives, and this pandemic has only exacerbated the inequities, injustices, trauma, and hopelessness that so many experience. So while today we pay special tribute and remembrance of the 14 people killed at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, please know we are working hard for all Californians – working to keep you and your loved ones safe, healthy, and well.  

Thank you to our funders, our valued thought partners, and to all those who work on the frontlines in California communities to keep their neighborhoods safe and thriving. As we always have, we put the community first through a racial equity framework and we’ll continue to take a public health approach to gun violence prevention, ensuring our homes and communities are safe and free from trauma, injuries and death as a result of guns. 

Brian Malte is the Executive Director of the Hope and Heal Fund, the only state-based donor collaborative that pursues a public health, community-based, racial equity-driven approach to gun violence prevention.

For media inquiries, please contact Ally Barron at abarron@hopeandhealfund.

Photo Credit: REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo