Today, Senators Tammy Duckworth and Cory Booker, along with 18 other Senators released a letter to U.S. Senate leadership building on Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) research to call for increased funding in support of communities affected by gun violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This comes on the heels of an AIUSA letter sent earlier this week to Senators calling for increasing funding for vital community programs that work to prevent gun violence, along with the release of people in immigration detention at risk for COVID-19. In response, Joanne Lin, National Director of Advocacy and Government Affairs at Amnesty International USA, released the following statement:
“COVID-19 has shaken our society to its core. It’s a human rights crisis on an unprecedented scale that’s affecting everyone, but some are hit much harder than others. Problems that existed before COVID-19 like the gun violence crisis are colliding to create dual pandemics that must be addressed together.
“As gun stores continue to be deemed ‘essential businesses’ across the country in the middle of the pandemic, gun sales are hitting record highs and gun violence is increasing. Now the communities that already feel the impact of gun violence the most are being affected disproportionately by the pandemic as well.
“The HEROES Act was a strong step in the right direction because it would allow states and local communities flexibility to use some of the new funding toward supporting community violence intervention programs. Now is the time for Senators to do the right thing and take bold action against gun violence by dedicating at least $150 million for a Community-Based Violence Intervention Fund, just as these Senators call for, so community leaders who know their neighbors most can prevent gun violence before it happens.
“Senators Duckworth and Booker understand we need to act right now not only to save countless lives from gun violence in the middle of this pandemic, but also make our communities more resilient in the future. Another much needed step is Congress taking up and passing the Break the Cycle of Violence Act which would ensure violence prevention and intervention programs were given the resources to do their critical work annually.”
Joanne Lin is available for interviews.