February 17, 2022

Adam Peck, West End Strategy Team; (202) 531-6408

Racial Equity Impact Tool Aims to Guide Gun Violence Prevention Policymaking

Advocacy Groups Commit to Centering Equity in Decision Making

WASHINGTON — Gun violence prevention groups have developed a new tool to help ensure solutions to gun violence are centered in equity. The Racial Equity Impact Analysis (REIA) tool uses a set of nine questions to help decision makers, including legislators, government officials, and advocacy organizations, identify and assess racial equity impacts that should be considered before a policy is implemented. The goal is to develop policies that are both effective and equitable.

The new tool, a product of a year-long collaboration among gun violence prevention groups including, Cities United, March for Our Lives. Community Justice Action Fund, Consortium for Risk-Based Policy, and the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Prevention and Policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and led by the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, builds on a public health model that identifies the social determinants of health as a key factor in violence. These include lax gun laws, concentrated poverty, environmental lead, and alcohol abuse, among others.

Data shows that Black males ages 15-34 are shot at 21 times the rate of their white counterparts and are also shot by law enforcement at disproportionately higher rates than white Americans. Unarmed black people are over three times more likely to be shot and killed by police compared to white people. Amid an unprecedented surge in gun violence, primarily concentrated in Black and Brown communities, solutions that do not exacerbate the longstanding inequities are urgently needed. 

“Gun violence has become a leading cause of death for the Black community and despite the severity of this crisis, many policies attempting to reduce violence have led to worsened conditions, fueled incarceration and even fueled more gun violence in our communities,” said Greg Jackson, Executive Director of the Community Justice Action Fund, a nonprofit organization that addresses the gun violence epidemic as a public health issue with a direct policy agenda and was one of the collaborating organizations.

The tool’s guiding questions focus on the objectives of the policy, the types of racial disparities that could result from the policy’s design and implementation, and various impacts of racial equity. Answers should generate new points of discussion among stakeholders tailored to specific proposals and contexts and be revisited periodically as new information becomes available.

“This tool is well designed to identify policies that will reduce harm in an immediate and lasting way,” says Patrice Sulton, Executive Director of DC Justice Lab, a team of law and policy experts researching, organizing, and advocating for large-scale changes to the District of Columbia’s criminal legal system. “Only by addressing the express and varied needs of communities affected by gun violence can we recognize the best ideas and implement them effectively.” 

Tailored to the specific needs of gun violence prevention, the tool draws from successful frameworks used by other social movements. The process and evidence for creating the tool are described in a companion report, “Racial Equity Framework for Gun Violence Prevention,” also released on February 17, 2022. The report framework asks advocates to think carefully about the relationships between gun violence prevention and structural racism, to develop alternative mitigation strategies to minimize harm and prioritize racial justice.  “This report is one of many steps to take a more critical look at the racial impacts of policies aimed at ending the crisis of gun violence,” says Jackson.

The REIA tool can be used by all organizations –on the local, state, or federal level–working on gun violence prevention, their partners, and allies (as well as organizations working on violence prevention in general). It is designed to enable people from multidisciplinary perspectives to identify and assess multiple factors at once. 

“Failures in public policies have contributed to deep racial inequities and high rates of gun violence that disproportionately impact communities of color,” says Daniel Webster, ScD, MPH, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Prevention and Policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Policy solutions, including gun laws and enforcement practices, must strive to reduce racial inequities, incarceration, and the burden of gun violence in the most impacted communities.”

“Like most issues in our country, community violence is rooted in systemic racism and until we are honest about that, we won’t see our desired outcomes,” said Anthony Smith, Executive Director of Cities United, a group supporting a network of mayor’s committed to reducing the epidemic of homicides and shootings among young Black men. “This new racial equity impact assessment tool, if used correctly, will hold us all accountable, moving us closer to the goal of making sure all Black and Brown communities are safe, healthy, and hopeful.” 


About the Authoring Organizations:

Cities United supports a national network of mayors who are committed to reducing the epidemic of homicides and shootings among young Black men and boys ages 14 to 24 by 50%.

Community Justice Action Fund addresses the gun violence epidemic as a public health issue with a direct policy agenda. CJAF provides training and guidance related to asset-framed communication strategies for communities of color and advocates for the redirection of public safety funding to address the intersectional causes of gun violence.

The Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy comprises experts committed to advancing evidence-based gun violence prevention policies. The group includes the nation’s leading researchers and academics with expertise at the intersections of gun violence prevention and public health, law, behavioral health, medicine, criminology, and related fields.

DC Justice Lab develops smarter safety solutions that are evidence-driven, community-rooted, and racially just. It aims to fully transform the District of Columbia’s approach to public safety and make it a national leader in justice reform.

The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (EFSGV) develops and advocates for evidence-based solutions to reduce gun injury and death in all its forms. EFSGV uses a public health and equity lens to identify and implement evidence-based policy solutions and programs to reduce gun violence in all its forms and to make gun violence rare and abnormal. EFSGV is the founder of the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy, a group of academics and practitioners who collaborate to develop innovative recommendations for policymakers.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Prevention and Policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health uses public health principles and conducts rigorous scientific studies to understand complex policy issues related to gun violence prevention. The Center engages in scholarly research, policy analysis, and agenda-setting public discourse. The Center serves as an objective, informative resource for the news media and is committed to serving the public by providing accessible learning opportunities.

Born out of a tragic school shooting, March For Our Lives is a courageous youth-led movement dedicated to promoting civic engagement, education, and direct action by youth to eliminate the epidemic of gun violence.