Violence Policy Center
The Violence Policy Center (VPC) is an American nonprofit organization that advocates for gun control. Founded in 1988 by Josh Sugarmann, the VPC approaches violence, and firearms violence in particular, as a public health issue affecting the whole population, rather than solely a criminal matter.
The VPC has drawn the attention of Congress to gun-related policy issues by distributing its published research and analysis, and numerous US gun control organizations have used VPC reports and terminology to advance local and national gun control initiatives. The VPC is known mainly for its in-depth research on the firearms industry, the causes and impacts of gun violence, and regulatory policies to reduce gun violence. The VPC advocates for pro-gun control legislation and policy that is usually opposed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other national or state gun lobbyists.
Since the VPC has no official membership fee, it relies on donations from the public and foundation support. The primary foundation donor to the VPC is the Joyce Foundation. The VPC publicizes its research through the news media and through coalitions with other advocacy organizations.
Annual reports on impact of gun violence
Using data from federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the VPC publishes annual state-by-state reports on the effects of gun violence. These include: a report on the number of females murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents, which is published to coincide with Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October; a report on black homicide victimization; and a report on lethal Hispanic firearms victimization. With some of the most relaxed gun laws in the nation, Louisiana had the highest murder rate (10.8 per 100,000) in 2013 among U.S. states for the 25th consecutive year (since 1989) annually, yet state lawmakers are proposing even more relaxed gun laws.
The VPC maintains a "Concealed Carry Killers" database of fatal non-self defense killings involving private citizens legally allowed to carry concealed handguns in public. The VPC also highlights mass shootings involving persons legally allowed to carry concealed handguns in public. The database was criticized by a researcher who claimed the statistics were inaccurate.
Gun Industry donations
The VPC has issued reports that document the gun industry's financial contributions to the NRA. In 2013, the VPC said that the firearms industry has donated between $19.3 million and $60.2 million to the NRA since 2005.
The VPC has long advocated for a ban on 50 caliber rifles. In 2001, the VPC issued a study that detailed "the 50 caliber's threat as an ideal tool for assassination and terrorism, including its ability to attack and cripple key elements of the nation's critical infrastructure—including aircraft and other transportation, electrical power grids, pipeline networks, chemical plants, and other hazardous industrial facilities".
In January 2005, the VPC was featured on the CBS news and current affairs program 60 Minutes, which ran a segment on 50 caliber rifles and the threat to public safety that they were alleged to pose. It drew heavily on VPC reports on the .50 BMG cartridge and conducted interviews with both Ronnie Barrett of Barrett Firearms and Tom Diaz of the VPC. The NRA and others[who?] alleged the story was biased in the VPC's favor and claimed that no 50 caliber rifle has ever been used in the commission of a crime. In response, the VPC issued a backgrounder detailing criminal use and possession of 50 caliber rifles, including examples of murders by criminals using .50 caliber rifles. The list does not clarify whether the weapons seized were possessed legally or not, and makes no distinction between use of a .50 caliber rifle in a crime and possession of a .50 caliber rifle by a person committing an unrelated crime. In September 2004, California became the only state to ban 50 caliber rifles.
Thousands of assault weapons sold in the United States are illegally trafficked into Mexico each year. Many are foreign-made weapons that are imported into the United States and then sold to "straw purchasers" and other illegal traffickers. In testimony to Congress and in reports, the VPC has stated that the U.S. government is not enforcing the "sporting purposes" test that bans the import of firearms that lack a sporting purpose. In 1989, ATF officials and the administration of George H. W. Bush used their administrative powers to prohibit the import of firearms that are not "generally recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes." Despite this prohibition, gun manufacturers were able to skirt the ban by making slight cosmetic changes to their weapons. This led to a review by the Clinton administration and resulted in a new round of weapons being banned from import. The VPC argues that today the import ban has for the most part been abandoned with foreign-made assault rifles—whole and in parts—being freely imported into the United States. In response, the VPC has asked the ATF to enforce a ban on the import of foreign-made assault rifles.
- "The Huffington Post -- Josh Sugarmann." Retrieved 2013-8-5.
- Carter, Greg Lee (2012). Gregg Lee Carter, ed. Guns in American Society: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, Culture, and the Law, 2nd Edition. ABC CLIO. ISBN 978-0313386701.
- "The Violence Policy Center - VPC in the News". VPC. Retrieved 2011-12-16.
- "The Joyce Foundation - Gun Violence Prevention Grantees." Retrieved 2013-8-5.
- Flatow, Nicole. "How Guns at Home Can Make Women Less Safe". Think Progress, Sept. 26, 2013.
- Associated Press. "SC Worst in Nation for Violence Against Women." Sept. 25, 2013
- Whaley, Natelege (2014-01-27). "National Crisis: Study Says Blacks Are 50 Percent of U.S. Homicide Victims". BET. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- "Gun control group: Murder rate for Hispanics more than double that for whites". Fox News Latino. EFE. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- McCarthy, Ciara. "Concealed Carry is Now Legal in All 50 States, and the NRA Doesn't Want Us to Know What That Really Means." Slate, July 11, 2013.
- Sugarmann, Josh. "Hialeah: Only the Latest Mass Shooting by a Concealed Carry Killer." Huffington Post, July 30, 2013.
- Curry, George E. "Obama Reignites Push for Gun Legislation." Los Angeles Sentinel, Sept. 26, 2013.
- "Voting From the Rooftops - Contents". VPC. Retrieved 2011-12-16.
- HNathanielS September 4, 2011 4:39 AM EDT (2011-09-04). "Big Rifle A Terrorist Tool?". CBS News. Retrieved 2011-12-16.
- "Criminal Use of the 50 Caliber Sniper Rifle". VPC. Retrieved 2011-12-16.
- Marshall, Carolyn. "California Bans a Large-Caliber Gun, and the Battle is On." New York Times, January 4, 2005.
- Attkisson, Sharyl. "Legal U.S. gun sales to Mexico arming cartels." CBSNews.com, December 6, 2011.
- 18 U.S.C. § 925(d)(3)
- Statement of Kristen Rand, Legislative Director, Violence Policy Center, Before Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, March 18, 2009.
- U.S. Department of the Treasury. Department of the Treasury Study on the Sporting Suitability of Modified Semiautomatic Assault Rifles, April 1998.
- Schmitt, Rick. Romanian weapons modified in the U.S. become scourge of Mexican drug war. The Center for Public Integrity, December 21, 2012.