APH will implement the $500,000 grant in partnership with Travis County and SAFE Alliance.
AUSTIN, Texas – Austin Public Health’s Office of Violence Prevention (OVP) has been awarded a federal grant to reduce domestic violence fatalities and the use of firearms to inflict injury, fear, intimidation, and coercive control over victims.
OVP will implement the $500,000 grant in partnership with Travis County and SAFE Alliance.
The project will take a comprehensive, culturally specific approach to address firearm relinquishment to enhance victim safety by addressing the intersection of firearms and domestic violence.
"A recent Texas report indicates that domestic abuse is five times more like to result in death in homes where guns are present,” said Austin Public Health Director Adrienne Sturrup. “This is a step toward a healthier community free of injury or death by firearms.”
The grant from the Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) works to develop and implement a standardized firearm surrender protocol that coordinates across all jurisdictions in the criminal-legal system to keep guns out of the hands of abusers.
“A gun in the household combined with an act of domestic violence is a recipe for tragedy. We must do everything we can to protect families as they proceed through the legal process,” said Travis County Judge Andy Brown. “This grant awarded to the Office of Violence Prevention allows for people to make responsible decisions and surrender their weapons while they work to resolve their legal issues.”
The grant is part of a larger effort through the Department of Justice which selected Austin as one of six new sites to participate in the Firearms Technical Assistance Project (FTAP) expansion, which includes Tucson, Arizona; the Georgia Department of Community Supervision; Detroit, Michigan; the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) of Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley in Tennessee and Yakima, Washington.
“Removing guns from domestic violence situations saves lives. That is a fact," said Austin Mayor Steve Adler. "We thank the White House and the Justice Department for selecting Austin in support of our local efforts to address gun violence.”
In addition to funding, OVP will receive technical assistance to help implement strategies for preventing the use of firearms in domestic violence incidents and incorporate community partners, particularly organizations that center on underserved populations, into planning and implementation efforts.
“Gun violence is an epidemic, which is why I spearheaded the creation of our Office of Violence Prevention in 2020. I am pleased to see the Office of Violence Prevention work with our partners to help keep guns out of the hands of those who should never have had them in the first place, particularly in family violence cases,” said Mayor Pro Tem Alison Alter. “These life-saving changes to the County’s gun surrender program would not be possible without the Office of Violence Prevention, the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, and our many community allies.”
County, City, and nonprofit partnerships include:
- Austin Travis County Family Task Force,
- Travis County Sheriff’s Office,
- Austin Police Department, including the Victim Services Division,
- Office of Police Oversight,
- Austin Public Health, Office of Violence Prevention,
- City of Austin Law Department, Civil Rights Office, and Equity Office,
- Travis County District Attorney’s Office,
- Domestic Violence High Risk Team,
- Travis County Counseling and Education Services, and
- The SAFE Alliance.
“The SAFE Alliance knows that when government and community work together, lives are saved,” SAFE Executive Director Julia Spann said. “This new program will make sure that survivors of every culture and color are at the table to ensure our new protocols serve everyone in our community.”
“A county-wide firearm surrender protocol will ensure that those at high risk of committing gun violence surrender their weapons, and that will make our community safer,” said Travis County District Attorney José Garza. “This is an essential first step in establishing a standard set of rules to help prosecutors, law enforcement, and advocates keep guns out of high-risk situations.”
During the timeframe of this grant, OVP will be participating in the Community Violence Intervention Collaborative on the national level, creating cross-learning and information-sharing opportunities.
“These federal funds will help create and implement policies for reducing gun crime and promoting safety for some of the most vulnerable families in our community,” Congressman Lloyd Doggett said. “These dollars support the important work that the Office of Violence Prevention and its partners are doing locally to reduce deadly incidents of domestic violence and to keep guns out of the hands of abusers.”