Bill Calls for Resources to Support Gun Violence Victims

Two lawmakers from Pennsylvania are pushing a bill that would provide victims of gun violence with support and assistance when accessing resources.

US Senator Bob Casey and Congressman Dwight Evans introduced the Resources for Victims of Gun Violence Act on Wednesday, May 8. While programs and resources for gun violence victims exist at the federal, state, and local level they can be difficult to find. The bill would create an advisory council to help those impacted by gun violence access benefits, resources, and programs that could help them meet medical, legal, financial, educational, and other personal needs.

“We can’t stop pushing for the common-sense measures that will help prevent gun violence from happening,” said Casey in a statement. “But we must also acknowledge the reality of our gun violence problem and make sure that survivors, families, friends and caregivers have the support they need to recover and manage their longer-term needs. That’s what this bill is aiming to do, and I hope that Congress will take it up. There are millions of Americans who have been affected by gun violence and could benefit from this legislation.”

The council would be composed of federal representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Department of Education, the Department of Urban Housing and Development, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration, as well as medical professionals and social workers, according to the bill.

In their statement, the Pennsylvania lawmakers note that about 100 people are killed by guns in the US each day, which averages up to 36,000 deaths annually. There are also 100,000 more people in the US who survive gun-related injuries each year. Evans said he is confident that there will be continued support for the bill.

“I’m optimistic about the chances of gaining support for our bill,” he said in the statement. “This bill has nothing to do with gun rights and everything to do with helping victims of crime. This is something Americans across the political spectrum should be able to support.”

US Senators who support the bill include Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). US Representatives Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Joseph D. Morelle (D-N.Y.), and Donald M. Payne Jr. (D-N.J). The bill is also supported by advocacy groups such as Everytown For Gun Safety, March For Our Lives, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, States United to Prevent Gun Violence, the Newtown Action Alliance, and many others. Earlier this month, Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) unveiled a 14-point gun reform plan he stated he would implement if he is elected into office.

The presidential hopeful would initiate a gun licensing requirement that would require individuals who wish to own guns to provide background information, documents, fingerprints, and to pass a gun safety course. The reform plan would also ban assault weapons, bump stocks, high-capacity magazines, and provide funding to research gun violence as a public health issue.

“My plan to address gun violence is simple — we will make it harder for people who should not have a gun to get one,” Booker said in a previous statement to The North Star.

Gun violence has also had a severe impact on mental health, especially in Black America. Pew Research Center found that 57 percent of Black American adults know someone who has been shot. A report from Everytown For Gun Safety found that guns are the leading cause of death for Black teens and children. It also found that Black Americans are 10 times more likely to die in gun homicides than white Americans.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.