One Year After San Bernardino Shooting, Hope and Heal Fund Launches to Stop Gun Violence in California
December 2, 2016 | Brian Malte
One year ago in San Bernardino, gun violence killed 14 people and injured 21 more at the Inland Regional Center. It was one of the worst mass shootings in American history. Just weeks after the tragedy, concerned citizens, including activists and philanthropists, gathered at a statewide #ENOUGH summit to explore ways to take action against gun violence. The daily scourge of gun violence affects Californians no matter where they live and claims nearly 3,000 lives in our state every year. Bullets kill thousands, injure more and permanently alter lives, families and communities.
Summit participants meant it when they said #ENOUGH. In the days and weeks following that event, they put together plans to launch the Hope and Heal Fund: The Fund to Stop Gun Violence in California. Officially launching today, on the one-year mark of the mass shooting in San Bernardino, we recognize this time as exactly the right moment to bring ideas, dollars and other resources together and stop the gun violence epidemic.
So, how do we go about solving this problem? For starters, we need to invest in what’s working. California is universally recognized by national gun violence prevention groups as a leader on smart and effective gun violence prevention policies. Over the last 25 years, state legislators have passed gun reforms responsible for reducing the number of gun deaths — and saving lives — faster than the nation has been able to do. With the advent of new laws from the California legislature’s past session and voters’ overwhelming support for Proposition 63 just weeks ago, more important laws are now on the books. But, these laws won’t make a difference unless they are properly enforced and funded. Hope and Heal Fund is focused on ensuring these lifesaving laws are working so that at-risk and potentially dangerous people, like domestic abusers and those who are a danger to themselves or others, don’t have access to firearms.
It’s also time to invest in research that will uncover the root causes of gun violence and programs that will protect those most at risk. We need to work with our community partners to better understand which programs will make a difference and where we should invest.
The Hope and Heal Fund will take a holistic approach that attacks gun violence from every angle. We’ll do this by funding the following:
- Direct services that focus on victims of gun violence
- Enforcement of common-sense gun policies
- Community-based activities to address issues tied to gun violence, such as housing, economic development, mental health and early childhood development
- Strategic communication to change the narrative on gun violence
- Research that uncovers actionable data
This holistic approach is the most effective way to end the gun violence epidemic, and it requires a lot of support. That’s why we’re asking for your help. Educating our communities, conducting critical research and enforcing our laws will take resources. Some of you will share expertise. Others can commit dollars. And all of us can support what’s working while seeking out new ideas that give us all reason to hope — and heal.
I’m motivated in my new role as the first project director for Hope and Heal Fund, and I know dramatic change is possible to protect innocent lives from the scourge of gun violence. In 20 years working in the gun violence prevention movement, I’ve seen smart solutions and reasons for hope. As a grassroots organizer in California, I learned the power of rallying citizens to action and investing in community-based solutions. As national policy director with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, I saw the power of smartly crafted, fully enforced state and federal laws to save lives. And now, back in my home state of California, I see a state on the verge of breaking through to stop the gun violence epidemic by combining key local and statewide solutions — backed by top-notch research — that will serve as the model for the rest of the country.
Now is exactly the right time to invest in these solutions. Please help me and the Hope and Heal Fund as we roll up our sleeves and make a difference, and most importantly, save lives. Visit hopeandhealfund.org to learn more and join our effort.
Brian Malte is the Executive Director of the Hope and Heal Fund, a philanthropy working to end gun violence in California.