A day after President Joe Biden announced the administration’s plans to curb violence, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) held a virtual roundtable Thursday to discuss ways to curb gun violence in Maryland.
Part of the nearly 80-minute discussion focused on what the federal government can do to help the state and counties in terms of funding and resources.
“We’re going to work to try and get those resources that we can fund,” Van Hollen said. “Some of the programs have not been giving a chance, but have a good evidentiary basis and then take the scale and expand those that are successful.”
State and local leaders and a professor from the University of Maryland joined the conversation to discuss resolutions as part of Gun Violence Awareness Month.
Biden said Wednesday he wants some COVID-19 relief funds to pay for summer employment, youth programs and intervention programs in public schools.
Another proposal would focus on formerly incarcerated people enter the workforce.
Van Hollen said stronger gun policies would also deter gun violence. He reintroduced a bill this year that would require individuals applying for a gun license to go through a law enforcement background check that includes fingerprinting and taking a photograph.
Although Maryland is one of eight of nine states to incorporate the “permit-to-purchase” law, a summary of the bill highlights about 54% of the guns used in crime in the state are traced back to other states without the law.
A main part of the conversation focused on prevention.
Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy said the majority-Black jurisdiction will be the first in Maryland to begin a pilot program next month for those currently incarcerated.
The Emerging Adults Program, which received support from the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections, will include character development, mentorship and job training.
Those who served time in state prison and jail can volunteer and participate to help those still behind bars and released from incarceration.
Braveboy’s office began the “Our Streets, Our Future” initiative this month to attack gun violence initiative through a holistic approach. She’s coordinating an event Friday with the city of District Heights at Woodland Spring Apartments for residents to receive information on social services, employment assistance, mentorship programs and neighborhood watch.
“This is the way forward and our communities deserve to be safe,” she said during an interview after the discussion. “But we also need to ensure we are not throwing people away when we know that we can restore individuals who have caused harm in our community.”