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We are facing an epidemic of gun violence that poses a serious threat to public health and safety - and we must act accordingly.

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Enough! Stemming America’s Gun Violence Epidemic

Reflections from Judy Belk, December 14, 2015
(This piece originally appeared as an e-alert on December 10, 2015.)

Here in California and across the nation we are reeling from the tragic shooting in San Bernardino. As someone who lost two close family members to gun violence, I know too well the devastation it inflicts on families and communities. I am mourning for the victims and their loved ones.

Sadly, this senseless act of violence is not an isolated incident - it is part of a disturbing pattern of gun violence in America. Every year, 30,000 Americans lose their lives to guns. In 2015, the U.S. has seen more mass shootings than days of the year, yet that number still accounts for only one percent of all gun-related deaths. Additionally, communities of color are disproportionately impacted by gun violence every day.

We are facing an epidemic of gun violence that poses a serious threat to public health and safety - and we must act accordingly.

For nearly 25 years, Cal Wellness has taken a public health approach to preventing gun violence. We have invested in research to shed light on the factors contributing to gun violence and find solutions that work. Our work represents one of the largest commitments of private philanthropic dollars to violence prevention in the U.S., totaling more than $130 million since 1992. Many of these dollars have funded a dedicated group of nonprofit partners, working tirelessly on the front lines, year in and year out - not only at times like this, when the issue dominates the headlines, but also long after many turn their attention to other issues. They truly inspire us.

Since we started this work, we've seen significant progress. Across the state, communities have instituted innovative measures to prevent gun violence, and the number of people injured or killed by guns has decreased by more than 50 percent.

But there is much more work to be done, here in California and across the country. This challenge requires a comprehensive and coordinated effort by community leaders, policymakers, businesses and funders. To that end, Cal Wellness will join public and private sector leaders in a new series of dialogues to generate ideas about how communities, law enforcement and philanthropy can be allies in building safe neighborhoods.

Last year, our Board reaffirmed violence prevention as a priority of Advancing Wellness. In the months and years ahead, we will continue our work to address the gun violence epidemic and explore new ways to advance health and wellness for all Californians. To learn more, visit our 20-Plus Years Preventing Violence page.

Enough is enough,

Judy Belk
President and CEO
The California Wellness Foundation

Follow Judy on Twitter @CEO_ CalWellness.


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