Mayor Declares Gun Violence a Public Health Emergency February 17, 2021

Written by MSDC Staff

On Wednesday, Mayor Muriel Bowser declared gun violence a public health emergency in the District and outlined steps her administration will take to reduce violent deaths.

According to DCist, the order is part of a larger initiative called Building Blocks DC. The initiative is a network of government resources and services tasked with addressing gun violence in certain parts of the District. The initiative is led by Director of Gun Violence Prevention Linda Harllee Harper.

The first step in Building Block DC is creating the Gun Violence Prevention Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Located in Anacostia, the EOC is, according to the press release, "a first-of-its-kind in the nation to deploy a public health approach to gun violence prevention."

Two advisory board with public sector representatives will guide the initiative's work. One group is co-Chaired by Dr. Roger Mitchell, who recently stepped down as the District's Chief Medical Examiner (and spoke at this year's MSDC annual meeting). The District will also create a dashboard to track the program's effectiveness, similar to the COVID-19 dashboard the District created last year. 

The action comes after the District recorded 198 homicides in 2020. In 2021, the homicide rate is outpacing 2020, with a 14% increase compared to this time last year.