Invest in Healing and Holistic Violence Prevention
The purpose of this section is to lay out recommendations for alternative approaches to addressing gun violence, and then advocate for those approaches. Some of the principles identified include:
- Supporting communities directly, in ways they define, rather than merely pushing resources into systems;
- Building both safer and thriving communities; and
- Focusing both on short- and long-term aspects of gun violence prevention work
Recognizing that gun-violence prevention and reduction work is multifaceted, the subgroup organized the recommendations by the various stages in the conflict-resolution process. The recommendations call for reform at the systemic and not only at the individual level, necessitate a strengths-based approach, and require undoing harmful narratives about those directly impacted.
This category is focused on identifying actions and initiatives needed to prevent and address root causes of gun violence on individual and community levels. Equitable resource distribution is required, to enable communities that have been historically neglected and have experienced disinvestment to better serve existing needs.
- Fund new and existing community-led initiatives and include funding for grass-roots organizations, as well as seed funding
- Invest in focused and holistic youth development
- Conduct ongoing statewide community needs assessments or community surveys as a strategy for violence prevention efforts, ensuring such strategy includes community input
- Increase availability and accessibility of conflict-resolution and social-emotional learning resources
- Increase mental health support for those directly and indirectly impacted by gun violence including survivors, families, communities, and people rejected for victim support
The recommendations call for reform at the systemic and not only at the individual level, necessitate a strengths-based approach, and require undoing harmful narratives about those directly impacted.
The recommendations in this category are focused on effective ways to address existing or ongoing conflict that reduce the probability of involvement from the criminal legal system. Special attention should be given to harm-reduction and alternative approaches identified by communities.
- Increase promotion of, and services focused on, de-escalation practices and healthy methods to defuse conflict
- Build safe spaces where people going through conflict have an opportunity to learn about each other, share experiences and concerns, and build pro-social skills
- Increase and sustain investment in restorative justice practices
After conflict has occurred, the primary goal is prevention – reducing the likelihood of cyclical involvement in violence and the carceral system. Once someone has been incarcerated, how do we make sure they are ready to return to their community? This category sheds light on the importance of re-entry work.
- Begin preparation prior to re-entry into the community
- Invest in community-based organizations focused on re-entry work
Law enforcement and government officials have routine, daily, professionalized access to the media, while reporters must independently locate and seek out alternate perspectives on gun possession from people who have experienced gun violence and the criminal system. It is necessary to deconstruct the harmful repetition of punitive and “predator” based language by police and politicians, amplified by media coverage. Narrative change, achieved by shedding light on voices and stories from individuals and communities directly impacted by gun violence in all its forms, is therefore an essential component of the path toward rectifying misguided policy.
- Actively address misinformation and redefine narratives
- Develop a clear and shared understanding of social structures associated with gun violence
Communities can and should wield power in transforming
systems to be equitable, inclusive, and anti-racist.
Communities can and should wield power in transforming systems to be equitable, inclusive, and anti-racist. This category focuses on supporting and uplifting the strengths, knowledge, and expertise of community members, requiring stakeholders to engage with communities first and hardest hit by structural inequities and gun violence in the processes to change policies, institutions, and the distribution of power.
- Focus efforts on relationship building
- Support community and organizational capacity building efforts
- Utilize asset-mapping as a strengths-based approach when working with different communities