Attorney General Bonta launches Office of Gun Violence Prevention in California

CALIFORNIA Attorney General Rob Bonta

By Jun Nucum
OAKLAND – An office to provide proactive approach through strategic programs and partnerships with stakeholders statewide was launch by the California Department of Justice that aims to develop strategies and working with stakeholders statewide to address the gun violence epidemic in the state.

This was announced by California Attorney General Rob Bonta saying that the California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) first-in-the-nation Office of Gun Violence Prevention will provide centralized support from the DOJ for partners to implement strategic and innovative programs to reduce gun violence.

California has long been a national leader in effectively preventing gun violence — with one of the lowest rates of gun deaths in the country but still firearms were the leading cause of death for children in the United States in 2020 making gun violence a true public health crisis that requires immediate and proactive attention.

At the same time, Bonta outlined the new office, announced a nationwide search for its first director, and launched a new webpage to provide the public with information about the office and resources for learning about California’s work and strategies to further reduce gun violence.

“This moment of crisis demands more than thoughts and prayers — we need action now,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “That is why as California Attorney General, I am doubling down on California’s gun safety efforts: I am defending our commonsense gun safety laws in court and cracking down on the surge of untraceable ghost guns. I am proud to lead a team of special agents that remove firearms from the hands of dangerous individuals as we continue working together to put an end to this crisis once and for all.”

 Bonta’s wife Assemblymember Mia said she believes that gun violence is a national crisis, a state crisis, a local crisis, and a public health crisis.

“Each gun violence tragedy sits heavy in my heart. I mourn with the families of the victims and wonder, what it will take to finally end this gun violence epidemic. The establishment of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention is a testament to the Attorney General also recognizing the need to elevate this matter statewide to identify comprehensive and effective solutions,” Mia Bonta said.

Giffords Law Center Executive Director Laura Cutilletta echoes  the need for a more coordinated expert leadership in California and a statewide resource dedicated to breaking down silos across different agencies and borders, cutting through red tape, and helping communities implement new resources to stop gun violence.

“In 2020, 3,449 Californians died from gun violence. While we have some of the strongest gun laws in the country, this number is unacceptable, and there remains much work that needs to be done to save lives,” said Cutilletta. “Throughout his time in office, Attorney General Bonta has been a steadfast partner of Giffords Law Center and a champion for gun safety as we applaud him for establishing the Office of Gun Violence Prevention and we look forward to working closely with the office to explore the public health solutions to our gun violence epidemic that we know work to save lives.”

“It takes the hood to save the hood,” said Rudy Corpuz Jr., Filipino American Founder and Executive Director of United Playaz.

The Office of Gun Violence Prevention’s (OGVP) mission is to reduce and prevent gun violence, firearm injury, and related trauma and will support DOJ’s ongoing gun violence reduction efforts led by the Bureau of Firearms and DOJ’s litigation sections — including the Department’s seizure of firearms from dangerous individuals using the Armed and Prohibited Persons System (APPS), prosecution of firearms trafficking cases, and defense of California’s commonsense gun laws.

OGVP will also examine a broad range of factors — from firearm availability to effective resources for crisis prevention — to reduce the harm caused by firearms and make Californians healthier and safer and aims to reduce gun violence by promoting research and data collection, increasing awareness about effective legal and policy strategies, and collaborating with federal, state, and local partners.

Gun violence remains a growing threat to public safety throughout the nation. On average, there are over 110 gun deaths each day and nearly 41,000 each year in the U.S. Guns are the leading cause of death among children and adolescents; with U.S. children being more likely to die from gun violence than in any other comparable country.

In 2021, California saw a 37% lower gun death rate than the national average. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, California’s gun death rate was the 44th lowest in the nation, with 8.5 gun deaths per 100,000 people — compared to 13.7 deaths per 100,000 nationally, 28.6 in Mississippi, 20.7 in Oklahoma, and 14.2 in Texas. California’s gun death rate for children is also lower than other states, and is 58% lower than the national average.