U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Representatives Steven Horsford (D-NV) and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), today reintroduced groundbreaking legislation to reduce urban gun violence in American cities and communities. The Break the Cycle of Violence Act would provide federal grants to communities for evidence-informed gun violence intervention and prevention programs designed to interrupt cycles of violence.
Research has shown that a combination of community-oriented intervention programs and commonsense gun violence prevention policies can cut gun violence rates in urban cities in half in as little as two years. In our nation’s urban centers, homicide rates are nearly 20 times the national average and has a disproportionate impact on young people of color. In fact, Black men and boys, who make up just 6 percent of the U.S. population, account for 63 percent of all homicide victims. In New Jersey, Black men ages 18–24 are 90 times more likely to be victims of a gun homicide than their white male peers. From 2015 to 2019, African-American children and teens were 14 times as likely to be shot to death as their white peers. Hispanic and Native American children and teens were both nearly three times as likely to be shot to death as their white peers.
While the human cost of gun violence is agonizing, the economic costs for communities and taxpayers is similarly staggering. Gun violence costs the United States $280 billion every year—with each American bearing $700 of this cost annually. A single gun homicide costs taxpayers $448,000 in medical and criminal justice expenses. The Break the Cycle of Violence Act would be an effective solution to saving both lives and taxpayer dollars. In New Jersey, gun violence costs taxpayers more than $1.8 billion each year, with at least $149.9 million in health care costs and criminal justice expenses. If New Jersey reduced the number of gun homicides in the state by just 10 percent, taxpayers would see a savings of $12.1 million.
“Often when we talk about gun violence, the discussion focuses on deadly mass shootings, but in my community in Newark and urban cities across the country people are experiencing this on a daily basis,” said Senator Booker. “The gun violence epidemic that is ravaging our urban communities has been overlooked for too long, even as many communities have gun injury rates similar to warzones. It’s going to take bold, innovative, and smart ideas to tackle this challenge and keep our cities safe. This means investing federal resources in community-based violence intervention and prevention programs, which have been proven to reduce gun violence. It’s time we take action, confront this crisis, and implement solutions that work.”
“Twenty-eight years ago today, my father was shot and killed in a senseless act of gun violence. In countless communities like mine, violence has robbed children of their parents and stripped young people of their futures,” said Congressman Steven Horsford. “We need smart, bold solutions to stop violence and keep families safe. The Break the Cycle of Violence Act will make transformative investments in community-based violence prevention programs, bring much-needed resources back to our neighborhoods, and build the economic opportunities that our youth deserve.”
“The rise in violent crime we have seen across the country, and specifically the rise of gun-related crimes is extremely alarming and must be addressed. We also know that all too often, gun violence is a vicious cycle of shootings and retaliation that leave communities traumatized and robs our young people of opportunity,” said Rep. Blunt Rochester. “It is all of our obligation to break that cycle. That’s why, together with my colleagues Representative Horsford, and Senator Booker, today, we are proposing an historic investment in both community and hospital-based violence intervention strategies, as well as job resources and opportunities for violence-affected youth. This multi-sector approach to addressing violence also shifts the paradigm through which we view policy and recognizes that the violence in our communities is a public health epidemic. The Break the Cycle of Violence Act invests in the kind of wraparound services that can not only help address the symptoms of violence we see in our communities but also address the root causes of that violence. This historic legislation will not only help break the cycle of gun violence – it will help create opportunity for our young people and help our communities thrive.”
“Summer youth jobs keep our young people engaged and helps them develop the critical skills necessary to prepare them for future employment,” said CBC Chair Joyce Beatty. “Summer employment may also serve multiple policy goals including deterring and protecting youth from gun violence. Summer youth jobs have had an especially positive effect on Black youth, many of whom earn the money necessary to help fund college applications and other important expenses.”
Several studies have shown that the violence prevention and intervention programs this bill would fund have been successful in reducing gun violence in their communities. Richmond, California invested millions of dollars in violence reduction programs and saw a 70 percent drop in gun homicides between 2007 and 2016. In Massachusetts, gun homicide rates fell by 35 percent from 2010 to 2015 when they implemented public health approaches with its Safe and Successful Youth Initiative, while national rates increased 14 percent within that same period. In Oakland, California, gun homicides and nonfatal shootings have fallen by 50 percent since 2012, as a result of a citywide violence reduction plan, known as Oakland Ceasefire.