States, cities, and rural communities across the United States are grappling with rising gun violence. While overall crime rates dropped from 2019 to 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has produced a spike in firearm sales and gun homicides, growing mistrust between police and the communities they serve, and great economic and social instability. Black and Hispanic communities disproportionately bear the brunt of this instability: They are not only experiencing increased gun violence to a greater degree but also have been hardest hit by the economic impacts of the pandemic and have had resources divested from them for generations.
In order to respond to gun violence and address its root causes, the communities most affected are banding together to advocate for greater investments in resources outside the criminal legal system that increase safety. Community stakeholders are also working together with their local governments in new and innovative ways to respond to instances of violence and protect their neighborhoods. These include supporting community reinvestment initiatives and building new violence prevention and intervention programs. One tool that is gaining popularity and has proved to be effective is community-based violence interventions (CVIs). CVI programs serve as a vital way to connect community resources to the people who need them most, addressing the root causes of gun violence in a holistic way that cannot be done by law enforcement or local government alone.