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Hope and Heal Reflects: Four Years after San Bernardino Shooting

December 2, 2019   |   Brian Malte

Four years have passed since 14 people were tragically shot and killed and another 22 people injured at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. The shooting was a clarion call heard across California. Our state, a longtime leader in gun reform laws, was reminded of our vulnerability to gun violence.

Today, and every day, we remember those who were killed due to senseless gun violence on December 2: Robert Adams, Isaac Amanios, Bennetta Betbadal, Harry Bowman, Sierra Clayborn, Juan Espinoza, Aurora Godoy, Shannon Johnson, Larry Daniel Kaufman, Damian Meins, Tim Nguyen, Nicholas Thalasinos, Yvette Velasco and Michael Wetzel.

In the wake of that tragedy, concerned citizens, including activists and philanthropists, convened at a summit to explore ways to address California’s gun epidemic — including shootings in all forms from suicide to domestic violence and community violence. The Hope and Heal Fund emerged from this summit launching the first-ever state-based donor collaborative fund dedicated to ending gun violence in California. Our hope and passionate belief is that communities can end gun violence by combining key local and statewide solutions — backed by top-notch research has driven our work. We have taken on the issue at its complexity with a holistic strategy, funding efforts such as:

  • Trainings and materials to help local jurisdictions implement key gun laws including Gun Violence Restraining Orders and other laws to ensure that domestic violence offenders do not have access to firearms.
  • Effective strategies led and designed by community members
  • Strategic communication to change the narrative on gun violence to one that is hopeful and solution-based
  • Filling research gaps to uncover actionable data and provide roadmaps for solutions

Progress is incremental but we are fighting for bold change. We see programs like Advance Peace in Richmond and Stockton reducing gun violence homicide and assaults by 55% (Richmond) within the community, research by Dr. Garen Wintemute of UC Davis that states at least 21 mass shootings in California have been prevented due to Gun Violence Restraining Orders, and innovative suicide prevention tools and resources are working to reduce firearm suicides. And yes, we acknowledge that far too many people die each day due to gunfire and mass shootings are still occurring, like those in Santa Clara, Orinda, Long Beach, Paradise Hills, and Fresno but the Hope and Heal Fund remains knows that gun violence is preventable, not inevitable.

We are encouraged by the traction California has made and the growing number of partners that are supporting our mission. What started with seven foundation partners and one individual supporter has now grown to 15 foundation partners and 27 individual donors. As more people understand how solving the gun violence epidemic is critical to improving the safety and wellness of communities, we are confident that more partners will join the effort.

Thank you for joining us on this journey. Your partnership and sustained commitment send a strong message that gun violence is a pressing issue and that now is the time to invest in effective public health and community-based solutions. In the near future, we’ll be laying our framework for racial equity in our grantmaking to ensure our efforts are reaching all impacted populations and ensure that our collective response is grounded in addressing the everyday gun violence that doesn’t always make the headlines. We encourage you to invite peers in your community to partner with us, if not by joining Hope and Heal Fund, by supporting organizations working on gun violence prevention throughout California. It is with these solutions that we can heal.

Today, let us remember the 14 people killed at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, and let us continue to honor them as we work to ensure our homes and communities are safe and free from injuries, death, and trauma as a result of gun violence.

Brian Malte is the Executive Director of the Hope and Heal Fund, a philanthropy working to end gun violence in California.

Photo Credit: ThamKC