In 2022, as in the nearly 30 years previous, WAVE employees worked tirelessly to end gun violence. Here are a few highlights of our activities and achievements from this year.
WAVE supporters sent nearly 2,000 emails to Congressional and state legislators, asking them to take action on critical legislation or thanking them for their stances on policies that prevent gun violence.
This year, WAVE worked with state legislators and the governor’s office to ensure that every reckless gun bill passed by our state legislators was vetoed. Also, having compelled Governor Evers to allocate $45 million toward community violence intervention and victims’ services successfully, we returned to his office and the Department of Justice with evidence-based ideas for executive actions they could take to prevent gun violence.
In June, Congress passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act – the most significant gun violence prevention legislation in nearly 30 years. The White House invited several of WAVE’s staff to come to the White House and help celebrate the signing of the bill into law. The law will help reduce interpersonal violence by advancing background checks, extreme risk protection laws, community violence interruption programs, and disarmament of domestic abusers.
We advocated for the installation of a new Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) director, and in July, Congress confirmed a director for the first time since 2015.
Community Violence Intervention
Community Violence Intervention Programs are shown to reduce violence and are gaining momentum throughout the country. WAVE worked to help promote these programs and partnered closely with Milwaukee-based 414Life.
We also successfully urged the City of Racine to hire their first city violence prevention manager and the city of Kenosha to apply for violence intervention funding from the state of Wisconsin.
WAVE and the Community Justice Action Fund are partnering to lead a coalition, which is helping connect cities and organizations with funding for violence intervention programs and pushing for more funding to be made available.
WAVE is committed to social justice and equity and recognizes that work must be done both within our organization and our communities.
People of color are disproportionately impacted by gun violence and are also victims of a criminal justice system mired in systemic racism. WAVE analyzes all potential gun violence prevention legislation with a racial impact assessment.
We also made internal efforts to enhance equity within WAVE personnel policies:
- WAVE recognized that the traditional set of paid U.S. holidays does not reflect all people. We adjusted our policies to ensure that holiday time can be used flexibly, allowing all employees to observe holidays that are meaningful to them.
- All employees, once again, received time off to vote.
- We continued meeting regularly for Team Action Tuesdays, focusing on equity-based training.
WAVE partnered with Milwaukee Film and other area organizations for the Cultures and Communities Festival. This four-day event focused on historically marginalized communities. WAVE helped sponsor “The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks” as part of this event.
WAVE hosted a free online showing of “When Claude Got Shot.” This Emmy-award-winning documentary discusses the impacts of gun violence. We included a discussion with Claude himself and the film’s director, Brad Lichtenstein.
We partnered with Giffords, a national gun violence prevention organization, for a free in-person showing of “Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down.”
We also hosted our annual Peace Through Music event in May at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn.
WAVE employees presented to many organizations (and their audiences):
- First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee,
- Milwaukee Office of Violence Prevention,
- Persist of Washington County,
- Fox Valley League of Women Voters
- March for Our Lives – Marquette,
- Survivors Unite,
- Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.
We also participated in several in-person events:
- Milwaukee Pride Fest,
- Labor Fest,
- An Evening of Elegance to Support Survivors of Domestic Violence,
- 10-year remembrance of the shooting at the Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek.
We also hosted or participated in several virtual educational programs live on Facebook or Zoom on the following topics:
- The implications of the United States Supreme Court Decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen
- I Vote Because I Care
WAVE shared educational information about suicide prevention such as the increased risk of suicide when the suicidal person has access to a firearm, and we shared resources, including the new 988 crisis lifeline. We also attempted to normalize talking about mental health, which helps fight the stigma that prevents many people from accessing lifesaving professional help.
WAVE helped educate voters about important deadlines for registration, voting methods, and voter turnout. Wisconsin saw an estimated 58% voter turnout, only one point lower than the 2018 record and far above the national 47% voter turnout.
We promoted Milwaukee County Referendum #1, which urges state legislators to pass an assault weapons ban in Wisconsin. The referendum passed by a wide margin.