Governor Northam announces $27 million for gun violence prevention

Published: Dec. 10, 2021 at 12:22 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - Governor Ralph Northam announced Friday his proposed two-year state budget will include $27.4 million to address gun violence in Virginia. The funds, he said, will establish the Center for Firearm Violence Intervention and Prevention at the Department of Criminal Justice Services.

“We lose a thousand Virginians to gun violence each year, and we must do everything we can to bring that number to zero,” said Governor Northam. “The new research center will collect important data that can lead to meaningful change. Gun violence is a public safety and a public health issue, and we have so much work to do to end this epidemic of violence. This data will save lives.”

The Center for Firearm Violence Intervention and Prevention will work across public safety and public health sectors, said Northam, to collect data and publish reports on gun-related violence. The information will be shared with state and local agencies, higher education institutions, research institutions, hospitals and other medical care facilities, and community-based organizations. He said the efforts will receive assistance and resources from the center. Training standards and model policies for law-enforcement personnel will also be established and updated periodically.

Virginia’s push for what Northam calls common-sense gun safety legislation started in 2019 after 12 people were killed in a shooting in Virginia Beach. The Governor called a special session then to address gun violence, but the session adjourned after 90 minutes and no action was taken. In 2020, Northam signed seven new laws to reduce gun violence, including background checks on all gun sales and mandated reporting of lost or stolen firearms. In 2021, Governor Northam signed a law prohibiting people convicted of assaulting family members from purchasing, possessing or transporting firearms.

“I am proud of the landmark gun violence prevention legislation that we, as an administration, have championed over the past four years,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “The Center for Firearm Violence Intervention and Prevention is the next step for the Commonwealth, and I’m confident it will help ensure Virginia remains a safe place to live, work, and raise a family.”

“The Department of Criminal Justice Services has knowledgeable and experienced staff and we are prepared to take on the responsibilities of the Governor’s proposal,” said Department of Criminal Justice Services Director Shannon Dion. “We are committed to administering programs that help keep all Virginians safe.”

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