Homicide remains a leading cause of death for young people, even as rates drop. In Chicago, a teenage boy grieves next to a memorial where Ashley Hardmon, 19, was shot and killed on July 2. Gunmen fired while she was chatting with friends. Scott Olsen/Getty Images
In Chicago, a teenage boy grieves next to a memorial where Ashley Hardmon, 19, was shot and killed. Gunmen fired while she was chatting with friends. Scott Olsen/Getty Images

The time is now for us to prioritize ending the epidemic of gun violence in our nation. Since Newtown, more and more of the American people are speaking out against gun violence and calling for change. President Barack Obama issued executive recommendations that will narrow the loophole that allows private sales to occur without a background check. The administration is requesting additional resources for ATF to process Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) licenses and will require mandatory reporting of lost and stolen firearms. The VPC strongly supports these actions, as they will reduce easy access to firearms, a major contributor to gun violence.  We thank all the advocates that have come together to make the President’s unprecedented action possible.

It will take new, smarter laws to stem the tide of gun violence in our nation. The Violence Policy Center just released a report this week showing that states with higher levels of gun ownership and weaker gun laws have higher rates of gun deaths. California now has a new Gun Violence Restraining Order law, which will provide families and law enforcement an important tool to remove firearms in potentially dangerous situations. For more information on the new law, please click here and to access California Judicial Council forms, please click here. L.A. City has also taken steps to reduce gun violence by recently passing ordinances requiring the safe storage of firearms and banning the possession of high-capacity ammunition magazines.

In addition to policy changes, we also need to work together to change our culture. To effectively reduce firearm violence in our communities, we need to educate those in our circles on the risks of possessing firearms and how to store guns safely. We need to ask if they have a gun in their home. Though heavily politicized, gun violence is not a political issue; it is a public health epidemic that is impacting every community.  We need champions in the public sphere who will take a stand on this issue. We need to call out media and entertainment that glorifies gun violence, particularly when targeted to young children whose brains are still developing. We need to lift up strategies such as gang intervention and youth development that set our youth on a path to success instead of violence and crime. We need to support individuals and families in domestic violence situations, and those affected by mental illness. We need to know that the majority of gun deaths are suicides, and support those who lack hope and are contemplating taking their own lives.

We all have a role to play. To get involved, please join our L.A. Gun Violence Prevention Network here: http://www.vpcgla.org/l-a-gun-violence-prevention-network/. Thank you for being a part of the violence prevention movement. Together, we are creating change.

The time is now to end our nation’s gun violence epidemic
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