Governor Newsom signs legislation to strengthen proactive gun violence prevention efforts

Today, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill authored by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel that will expand California’s gun violence prevention services and combat the nationwide gun violence epidemic. Assembly Bill 1929 dramatically expands funding for lifesaving gun violence prevention efforts by providing Medi-Cal reimbursement for violence prevention programs, a method well-known for its proven effectiveness in curbing retaliation and reducing the risks of further violence.

“Gun violence is an urgent public health crisis that demands action on multiple fronts,” said Gabriel. “While Republicans in Washington continue to obstruct progress, we are committed to moving forward common-sense gun safety measures to protect our kids and our communities. AB 1929 expands access and increases funding for violence prevention programs, which have proven to be successful at reducing violence and saving lives.”

AB 1929 was signed into law as part of an expedited package of bills that address the current gun violence crisis. There have already been more than 300 mass shootings this year in the United States. The shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois that left six people dead and dozens injured was one of 14 mass shootings over just the Fourth of July weekend. There have been just more than 100 since a rampage at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, left 19 children and two teachers dead on May 24. Mass shootings have been on the rise in recent years — in 2021, almost 700 such incidents occurred, a jump from 611 in 2020 and 417 in 2019. Before that, incidents had not topped 400 annually since the Gun Violence Archive started tracking in 2014.

In urban areas of the United States, studies have shown that up to 41 percent of patients treated for violent injuries, such as shootings, are re-injured within five years. One survey of victims of violence at a five-year follow-up found that 20 percent of patients treated for violent injury had died. This “revolving door” phenomenon is well-documented in the medical literature and a recent systematic review of 19 studies on violent reinjury rates has confirmed its prevalence. Moreover, being the victim of violence significantly increases a person’s likelihood of engaging in violent behaviors against others.

In response to these alarming trends, violence prevention programs have been identified as one of the most innovative and effective strategies for reducing rates of violent injury recidivism. These programs bring targeted, community-based prevention specialists into the hospital setting to counsel and work with the patient and reduce the risks of violent re-injury. Integrating these services into hospital trauma centers corresponds with large reductions in rates of injury recidivism and long-term increases in patients’ wellbeing. In San Francisco, a study of the Wrap-Around Project found that over a 10-year period, the 466 clients enrolled in the program experienced a 50 percent reduction in the historical re-injury rate.

“Our healthcare systems have saved countless lives from gun violence, but while emergency physicians can treat a bullet wound, we have a difficult time addressing a patient’s risk of re-injury and retaliation,” said Dr. Lori Winston, President of The California Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians. “After treatment, at-risk patients are often discharged right back into the same conditions that led to their violent victimization in the first place. This creates a revolving door of injury between the community and our emergency departments. Fortunately, violence prevention services have proven to address the root causes of violence and stop that revolving door. AB 1929 ensures that we provide much-needed healthcare to people and communities at risk of violent injury.”