Mass shootings intensify reform efforts at grassroots level

Jun 7, 2022, 6:30 AM | Updated: 9:56 pm

With protests planned for Saturday after the mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Buffalo, New York, gun control advocates hope to intensify pressure on Congress to pass laws and additional funding for research to help curb the growing violence.

And they say they’re prepared to use philanthropic money and their own fundraising to support their advocacy until public attention forces meaningful changes.

Noah Lumbantobing, a spokesman for March for Our Lives, says he’s seen the strategy succeed before.

After the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, that killed 17, students formed the anti-gun violence group and led mass protests across the country. In response, former President Donald Trump’s administration banned bump stocks, which was the accessory a shooter used to kill scores at a country music festival in Las Vegas the previous year.

“Trump is not our friend — we know that,” Lumbantobing said, speaking through the din of protests outside the National Rifle Association convention in Houston last month. “He’s not our political ally, but the temperature in the country got so high he couldn’t ignore us.”

This time, March for Our Lives and other gun control groups plan to mobilize supporters to push Congress to require universal background checks, pass red flag laws allowing guns to be confiscated in certain cases and raise the age limit to buy certain guns.

All that said, they recognize that political leaders have not delivered meaningful action on gun control in America.

“If it wasn’t for the movement, I would not have any faith in politicians,” Lumbantobing, 26, who is based in New York, told The Associated Press. “But given that the movement is so strong and it’s so clear that it is so strong, I think something will happen.”

In a speech last week, President Joe Biden proposed numerous reforms, including restoring a ban on the sale of assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as implementing background checks and red flag laws. At the same time, he made clear he recognizes that Republican opposition makes it unlikely that most of those changes will become law.

“I know how hard it is,” he said. “But I’ll never give up. And if Congress fails, I believe this time a majority of the American people won’t give up either.”

Surveys show that the Republican resistance to gun control doesn’t reflect the views of a majority of Americans. Most U.S. adults think mass shootings would occur less often if guns were harder to get and believe that schools and other public places have become less safe than they were two decades ago, polling finds.

Nonprofits, community groups and advocacy organizations say they have gained insight into why gun violence occurs and how to reduce it, including interventions that don’t require legislation.

Increasing funding for research, investing in frontline organizations working to prevent gun violence, donating to advocacy groups and taking part in mass movements, advocates say, can help reduce shooting deaths and injuries.

Though gun violence is among the leading causes of death in the U.S., Congress has allocated little funding over the years to study it. Research about gun violence was effectively halted in 1996 by an amendment to a federal spending bill. That suspension was reversed in 2018 after the Parkland shooting. Congress allocated $25 million to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health to fund gun violence research.

That 20-year gap in federal funding means that gun violence has received less study than have other major deadly public health issues like car crashes, smoking or HIV, according to Andrew Morral, director of the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research.

“We don’t have great data,” said Morral, a senior behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation. “We don’t have a big cadre of researchers working on this.”

Last year, Arnold Ventures and The Joyce Foundation commissioned an analysis to find out how much it would cost the government to fund research and collect data about gun violence. Their conclusion: $600 million over five years.

“We’re not talking about $10, and we’re not talking about $25 billion; this is a solvable issue,” said Asheley Van Ness, a director at Arnold Ventures who oversees gun violence research. Other donors besides the federal government could help contribute.

“Philanthropy plays a unique role in American public policy as catalysts for change, often laying a path forward that government can follow,” Van Ness said.

Responding to a jump in gun homicides in 2020, the Biden administration allowed municipalities to direct funds from the American Rescue Plan last June toward gun violence reduction strategies, including community violence intervention programs.

The administration also partnered with about a dozen foundations to build the capacity of community violence intervention programs in 15 cities, including Los Angeles, Washington and St. Louis. The Health Alliance for Violence Intervention, which supports shooting victims while they’re recovering and encourages them and their relatives not to retaliate, is providing training and technical help to the initiative.

Jason Corburn, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, has done evaluations for a violence interruption organization, Advance Peace, which started in Richmond, California, and now works in multiple cities across the country.

Advance Peace’s programs rely on mentors who are knowledgeable about their communities and often have been involved in and imprisoned for gun crimes. Their personal histories give them credibility with the people most likely to be involved in gun violence. But it also means that local governments can be reluctant to fund their employment.

“That’s where I think philanthropy can step in and provide that kind of support,” Corburn said.

A decade ago, the Joyce Foundation launched a funding collaborative, the Fund for a Safer Future, which pools resources for reducing gun violence. Scott Moyer, president of the Jacob & Valeria Langeloth Foundation and member of the fund’s executive committee, says it allows foundations or large donors who are interested but don’t have close connections or a deep understanding of gun violence to make an impact.

The fund also donates to organizations that help defend gun regulations and that advocate for policies — something Moyer said is permissible despite restrictions that bar nonprofits from participating in political lobbying.

The fund also allows donors who wish to be anonymous the chance to participate. Still, he suggested, it’s better to speak out against gun violence and visibly support funding solutions.

“Some people see that gun violence issues are too political,” Moyer said. “And I would push back on that and just say, ‘People are dying.'”


This story corrects the spelling of Jason Corburn’s last name. It is not Coburn.


Associated Press coverage of philanthropy and nonprofits receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content. For all of AP’s philanthropy coverage, visit https://apnews.com/hub/philanthropy.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Republican presidential candidates, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, left, talking with forme...

Associated Press

The GOP debate field was asked about Trump. But most of the stage’s attacks focused on Nikki Haley

The four Republican presidential candidates debating Wednesday night mostly targeted each other instead of Donald Trump.

3 days ago

Law enforcement officers head into the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, campus after reports of an ...

Associated Press

Police say 3 dead, fourth wounded and shooter also dead in University of Nevada, Las Vegas attack

Police said a suspect was found dead Wednesday as officers responded to an active shooter and reports of multiple victims at UNLV.

3 days ago

President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, leaves after a court appearance, July 26, 2023, in Wilming...

Associated Press

Republicans threaten contempt proceedings if Hunter Biden refuses to appear for deposition

House Republicans are threatening to hold Hunter Biden in contempt if he does not show up this month for a closed-door deposition.

3 days ago

Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., listens to a question during a news conference, March 30, 2022, in W...

Associated Press

Tuberville is ending blockade of most military nominees, clearing way for hundreds to be approved

Sen. Tommy Tuberville announced Tuesday that he's ending his blockade of hundreds of military promotions, following heavy criticism.

4 days ago

An employee works inside the Hanwha Qcells Solar plant on Oct. 16, 2023, in Dalton, Ga. On Tuesday,...

Associated Press

US job openings fall to lowest level since March 2021 as labor market cools

U.S. employers posted 8.7 million job openings in October, the fewest since March 2021, in a sign that hiring is cooling.

4 days ago

Megyn Kelly poses at The Hollywood Reporter's 25th annual Women in Entertainment Breakfast, Dec. 7,...

Associated Press

The fourth GOP debate will be a key moment for the young NewsNation cable network

By airing the fourth Republican presidential debate, NewsNation network will almost certainly reach the largest audience in its history.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

(KTAR News Graphic)...

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Follow @KTAR923...

West Hunsaker at Morris Hall supports Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona

KTAR's Community Spotlight this month focuses on Morris Hall and its commitment to supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Arizona.



Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.

Mass shootings intensify reform efforts at grassroots level