June is Gun Violence Awareness Month and in cities across the country, the impact that gun violence has on communities tops the list of what keeps elected officials up at night. Everytown for Gun Safety touches towns across America as the leading gun violence prevention organization in the nation and we recognize the urgency of this public health crisis. As an executive partner and program collaborator with National League of Cities, our hope is that our resources reach cities, towns and villages of all sizes. Below are some resources and action items in support of municipalities from the team at Everytown.
General City Resources
- The City Gun Violence Reduction Portal is a clearinghouse of data-informed gun violence prevention strategies. Municipalities are encouraged to utilize the tool to help create the best path forward for their residents.
Suggested Actions for Cities
- Publish Annual Reports: Cities could consider passing an ordinance that mandates a yearly report on information related to the trafficking of illegal firearms including but not limited to: where the firearm was last legally purchased, whether or not it is an untraceable ghost gun and the manufacturer of the firearm. New York City first passed this ordinance and it has since been introduced in Boston. This information allows cities to begin to identify where crime-associated guns come from and begin to figure out ways to curb the flow of illegal guns. Similarly, cities can share data on the top manufacturers of guns recovered in crimes in their communities.
- Mandate Warning Signs in Gun Shops: Municipal governments may want to consider passing an ordinance that mandates that any site where firearm sales or transfers are conducted have signs prominently displayed with specific language warning customers about the risk associated with access to firearms including an increased likelihood of suicide, homicide, death during domestic dispute and unintentional deaths to children, household members or others. The signage could also list the local crisis hotline and national 988 Suicide Prevention Hotline. The City of Westchester (NY) as well as municipalities in Colorado and California have passed such laws.
- Distribute Materials on Secure Storage: Municipalities could use all official channels to distribute information related to the importance of securely storing a firearm. The Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund’s BeSmart contains materials on secure storage that can be utilized by municipalities. City leaders in Medford, Mass., recently passed a resolution directing their mayor, police department and Department of Public Health to distribute secure storage materials. Distributing secure storage information can occur regardless of preemption. Materials can be distributed without an ordinance as evident through the partnership between the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers (NOBLE) and BeSmart campaign to get designated secure storage information and gun locks into the hands of residents in Black and Brown communities. The campaign has been launched alongside city leaders in Baltimore, St. Louis, Wayne County (MI), Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Nashville, Tempe, Columbus and West Palm Beach.
- Implement Extreme Risk Protection Orders: When a person is in crisis and considering harming themselves or others, family members and law enforcement are often the first people to see the warning signs. Extreme risk laws, also known as red flag laws, allow loved ones or law enforcement to petition a court to temporarily prevent someone in crisis from accessing guns via an extreme risk protection order (ERPO). There are currently 20 states with extreme risk laws. Localities in states with these laws on the books should consider taking the following actions:
- Designate an ERPO coordinator tasked with working with local stakeholders to ensure effective implementation of ERPO in your municipality.
- Launch a local public awareness campaign about the availability of ERPO as a crisis intervention tool and how to access it.
- Work with local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors/city attorneys to create a standardized ERPO petition process.
- Help ensure training on ERPO for all local stakeholders, including law enforcement, prosecutors/city attorneys, court personnel and judges, and social service providers.
- Work with local court personnel and judges to ensure a user-friendly process for individuals seeking to access the ERPO process.
More information on successful ERPO implementation including best practices from Kings County and San Diego can be found here.
- Establish an Office of Violence Prevention and Support Intervention Programs: Violence intervention programs provide evidence- and community-informed, comprehensive support to individuals who are at greatest risk of gunshot victimization. These programs are shown to reduce gunshot woundings and deaths in the neighborhoods most impacted by gun violence. Baltimore, Newark, Louisville, and countless other cities have invested in supporting community violence intervention programs in their communities.
Cohesion across key stakeholders and strategies is particularly important to ensuring city gun violence prevention, and an Office of Violence Prevention can play a key role in this. These offices coordinate, develop, and uplift violence prevention efforts occurring across the city. Important first steps include: (1) inventorying all violence prevention efforts happening across the city to assess strengths and gaps; (2) bringing together diverse stakeholders to identify common goals and strategies; and (3) ensuring that all active approaches are data- and community-driven.
Read more here to learn about violence intervention programming and best practices. Additionally, follow NLC’s Reimagining Public Safety work with cities. More information about how to approach creating an Office of Violence Prevention can be found here.
While the resources and action items above are not the only way that Everytown supports cities, we hope that they spark the interest of elected officials and their teams as they determine next steps in addressing guns and gun violence. In collaboration with NLC, other partners and cities across the country, we hope to one day live in a world where city leaders and their residents can feel safe and free from the fear that gun violence brings.
About the Author
Ariel Cathcart is the Manager of Mayoral Outreach at Everytown for Gun Safety.