Padilla Convenes Virtual Gun Violence Roundtable with Community Leaders in CA

WATCH: View a recording of the event

CALIFORNIA — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) hosted a virtual roundtable discussion with community leaders on addressing gun violence in communities across California. The conversation follows the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which Padilla supported and President Biden signed into law last month. Padilla was joined by community leaders from Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the California Wellness Foundation, and others for a conversation on how the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act will help support local, community-based efforts to help make communities safer.

“The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is a meaningful and necessary first step towards ending gun violence in America. Today, I spoke with those who know this issue the best and their message is clear: our work is far from over,” said Senator Padilla. “Californians and all Americans deserve to live free from the persistent threat of gun violence, and we must continue fighting to secure that future.

“The passage and enactment of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act marks the first significant federal gun safety law in nearly three decades,” said Yasmín Fletcher Braithwaite, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “As the conversation today showed, the key to ensuring the law is as effective as possible at reducing gun violence is engaging with key stakeholders, especially community organizations. We thank Senator Padilla for holding this critical conversation with a diverse array of speakers to show the depth and breadth of gun violence prevention expertise within California.”

“We are encouraged by the passage and signing of the Safer Communities Act and other investments in gun violence reduction, but we know there is much more work to be done,” said Alex Johnson, chief of staff at the California Wellness Foundation. “Our state will continue to lead the way on the issue of gun violence prevention because of strong political leadership from Senator Padilla and others. Yet we must recognize the role of organizations and local leaders working in diverse communities of this state who are standing in the gap, working to save lives, and ensuring that people within the communities most impacted by gun violence can experience the fullness of their lives, be safe and healthy, and thrive with dignity.”

“The future of gun violence in California must be localized, intersectional and led by residents of the most impacted communities,” said Brian Malte, Executive Director of the Hope and Heal Fund. “In order for them to succeed, communities need adequate funding to employ proven strategies that address prevention, intervention and healing from trauma. Working collaboratively and listening to those impacted, we will move the needle to dramatically decrease everyday gun violence and attain a safer California.”

“Too often, young people feel and see adults and systems responsible for them overfocused on rules and regulations that don’t match or tend to their realities,” said Kanwarpal Dhaliwal, RYSE Center. “We need our policymakers, funders, researchers, media to get and stay proximate to what young people are feeling and experiencing. We need policies and investments that respond to and reflect what young people need, want, and deserve. We need to move away from individual behavior and more towards institutional accountability.”

“The impacts of gun violence have been endemic in many inner-city communities for generations and often overlooked,” said Fernando Rejón, Executive Director of Urban Peace Institute. “To address gun violence, California and the nation need to take an unflinching stance on eradicating violence through seismic investment in the neighborhoods most impacted.  Not until we shift our values and seek to see with unbiased clarity can we begin to end the bloodshed.”

“I believe that no student should ever have to make the choice, should ever have to choose between their education or their life,” said Ashley Castillo, Students Demand Action. “We talk about how every student has a right to education even through a global pandemic. Yet, we aren’t keeping our schools safe enough for students to even want to continue to pursue an education. This is why the work that I do is so important to me.”

“California is making more than $200 million available to more than 80 communities around the state for evidence-based interventions to prevent firearm violence,” said Dr. Garen Wintemute, Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis. “These interventions will make a difference for the better.”

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act improves background checks for purchasers under the age of 21, helps states implement red flag laws, strengthens protections for victims of domestic violence, and makes significant investments in community-based mental health services.

Last month, during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Padilla urged Congress to act on gun violence legislation and made the case for ensuring law enforcement officials and mental health professionals have the tools necessary to protect children and communities. In wake of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Padilla joined gun violence survivors and hundreds of gun safety supporters and advocates for multiple rallies to demand action on gun safety.

You can download a recording of the event HERE.