Gun violence is a public health and safety issue in the United States. From 2009-2014, there were over 74,000 annual emergency department visits for firearm injuries. In 2019, more than 40,000 Americans died from firearms and over 150,000 more were injured – more than HIV or car accidents.
Massachusetts has some of the most effective gun violence prevention laws in the country – laws that make it harder for kids and dangerous individuals to obtain firearms without detection by law enforcement. Because of these laws, in 2020, Massachusetts had the lowest gun death rate per 100,000 individuals of any state in the country.
Despite this progress, over 60% of firearms used in crimes in Boston originate from out of state, where guns are purchased without background check or licensing requirements. As a result, gun violence remains a preventable threat to Boston which requires a comprehensive and community-focused intervention. Fatal shootings in Boston spiked by 58% and non-fatal shootings by 38% during 2020. More recently, as of November 2020, 261 individuals were victims of firearm-related injury and over 400 firearm-related arrests were on the books. Just this year, Boston has already seen 19 homicides, 87 shootings, and gun arrests have jumped 32%.
As an ER Physician at New England’s busiest and biggest trauma center, Jon knows first hand how prevalent and dangerous gun violence is – because these are his patients and his neighbors. In addition to his work treating countless number of patients impacted by violence, he’s also been a champion of gun violence prevention on Beacon Hill. Jon has filed multiple pieces of legislation aimed at reducing the illicit trafficking of guns, addressing racial inequities, and treating gun violence as a health issue. He also voted to fund critical programs that address the intersection of youth and gun violence, including co-sponsoring and supporting the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative during every single budget cycle in the legislature.
However, gun violence continues to harm some of our most vulnerable communities. Black and Latinx young men continue to be disproportionately impacted —almost 75% of America’s 14,542 gun homicide victims in 2017 were either Black or Latinx, and nearly 85% were male. Jon is running for mayor to change that paradigm and advance racial, economic, and social justice. As mayor, Jon will:
- Recognize that gun violence is a public health issue. Gun violence is an epidemic and must be treated as a public health issue. As mayor, Jon will prioritize preventing gun violence by aggressively targeting the root causes of gun violence, specifically the pervasive lack of educational and economic opportunities in certain communities.
- Addressing the education achievement gap. Jon will focus resources on our most underserved schools to close the achievement gap and increase educational opportunities. This starts with targeting the opportunity gap by providing educational, extracurricular, and additional enrichment opportunities for our most underserved students.
- Expanding employment opportunities by investing in year round youth jobs. This approach can change life trajectories of gang-involved youth and young adults by facilitating access to employment, education, and opportunities to enhance their life skills. Jon will partner with organized labor to recruit employees from underserved communities because union jobs are one of the best pathways to the middle class. He will also increase innovative public-private partnerships for youth, including paid internships, fellowships, and opportunities for college credit.
- He will dramatically expand youth programming to provide educational, extracurricular, or community-focused programming. Jon envisions tapping into our vast network of cultural, historic, and educational institutions to provide a diverse palate of activities and programming for our youth. This includes providing access to year-round jobs programs, summer jobs, educational enrichment opportunities, athletic programs, and access to arts and culture.
- Addressing the mental health crisis to prevent suicide. 60% of the deaths from firearms in the United States are suicides. Access to a firearm increases the likelihood of suicide by a up to a factor of ten. Jon will increase investment in suicide prevention and mental health services, particularly in Boston’s youth. He will work to make sure that BCYF, BPS, and nonprofits serving the community have the resources and support to effectively address the growing mental health crisis.
- Expand partnerships to provide trauma-informed care. Jon will double down on partnering with those on the ground, our community leaders, faith organizations, and nonprofits, to expand trauma-informed care when it comes to gun violence.
- Expand emotional support and recovery services for children who have been exposed to and traumatized by violence. Jon believes in preventing gun violence by changing life trajectories of at-risk youth. By providing access to services and trauma counseling, we can break cycles of violence and focus on healing. It also means increasing investment in programs that focus on mentoring, conflict mediation, and community engagement.
- Jon will expand hospital-based violence intervention and trauma-informed programs. As an ER physician, he has seen the immediate impact that such programs have and will expand their reach across all medical centers in Boston.
- Public safety response to gun violence. While the Boston Police Department seeks to guarantee public safety, Jon believes that they can play an important role in gun violence prevention. Public safety prevention strategies have shown to effectively reduce crime and decrease homicides and assaults by as much as 30 to 50%.
- Build meaningful relationships with at-risk youth. Jon envisions public safety officials proactively establishing partnerships with community leaders and faith leaders to work closely with and support at-risk youth.
- Coordinate with Neighborhood Trauma Teams to respond to incidents of gun violence. These incidents present themselves as unique opportunities to address the acute causes of gun violence. During interventions, teams will provide resources for all gun-related violence survivors and affiliates to discourage future violence and prevent retaliation.
- Identify high likelihood gun violence hot spots and focus on providing increased lighting, sponsoring public events and art, building up economic activity, and beautifying the public realm. This includes relying on data to deploy targeted public safety resources to decrease incidents and deter gun violence.
- Stop the Flow of Illegal Guns. Jon will work to prevent guns from being transported into Boston from outside of the state. In 2017, almost half of all guns used in crimes in Boston were from out of state, and only 21% came from within Massachusetts.
- Establish a Regional Gun Violence and Illicit Drug Task Force with our state government, governments of neighboring states, and municipal officials throughout New England to create a framework for illegal gun and drug interdiction.
- Collaborate with our neighbors and state government to share firearm purchasing and illegal trafficking information between states and across the Commonwealth.
- Focus on firearm data collection and research by creating partnerships and communication channels for law enforcement, the federal government, cities, and neighboring states. As mayor, Jon will work with the Boston Police Department to publish data on gun tracing to help prevent the flow of illegal guns to Boston.
- Advocate for federal legislation. Jon will be a staunch and fierce advocate for common sense gun legislation at the federal level, including universal background checks, closing the private sale loophole, and the ghost gun loophole.