Local family invited to White House for signing of Bipartisan Safer Communities Act after advocating to end gun violence after the tragic murder of their son 9 years ago
The journey of Calandrian Simpson Kemp and George Kemp Sr., after the tragic loss of their son to gun violence, has been an emotional and inspirational story.
Their son, George Harold Kemp Jr., was murdered in September 2013, after sustaining several gunshot wounds after he and his friends got into a fight with a group of teens in Richmond, Texas. The 20-year-old was a mechanics student who played free safety on both his college and high school football teams and had aspirations to join the NFL, before he was fatally shot.
Since that tragic incident, not only has the Kemp family been steadfast and focused on helping other parents heal from the unsuspecting loss of their loved ones to gun violence, they have also been on the frontlines as advocates for the passage of meaningful legislation to end gun violence in America.
This past Monday, July 11th, the Kemp family was able to personally witness legislation get signed into law that they believe will help address some of the continuous issues occurring on a yearly basis in this country.
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was signed into law this past Monday, and has been deemed the most significant gun safety legislative package to be signed into law in nearly 30 years. It is strongly believed that it will save lives.
Both Calandrian and George Kemp were personally invited to the White House by President Joe Biden to honor survivors for their hard work on helping with gun safety, and towards the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.
The Kemp family took to social media prior to their trip to the White House in Washington, D.C., to express their excitement and relief about the passage of the long-sought-after legislation, stating:
“OUR FIGHT WAS NOT IN VAIN! WE ARE A TESTAMENT TO FIGHT FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN AND STAND ON IT! George H. KEMP JR WE SHOWED THE WORLD YOUR LIFE MATTERED! 9 years on the frontlines of the 26 years it took to pass a bipartisan gun safety bill and we will turn up… We deserve some JOY!… Hard work and heavy lifting to save lives was our portion! We DID IT Lil George!!!”
This has been a heavy lift for the Kemp family, and they have done everything in their power to spread the word about gun violence, and advocate for something to be done in response to the tragic loss of their son and others like him.
In 2014, Calandrian founded the group, The Village of Mothers, which has a mission to inspire hope by encouraging, building and strengthening mothers through faith by genuine friendships and resources. This group was significant for Calandrian and others like her, because she was suicidal at the time, struggling to find an outlet for her own pain and by creating Village of Mothers, she decided to turn her pain into purpose by helping other grieving mothers.
Since initiating Village of Mothers, Kemp has helped more than 700 moms nationwide who joined the group online. The mothers attend rallies and organize gatherings to encourage and uplift one another.
In 2020, Calandrian was featured in a powerful ad during Super Bowl LIV, by then-Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg‘s campaign, which spotlighted her and the desperate plea she had for lawmakers to take action on gun violence.
Now, a piece of legislation has passed to help deal with gun violence in America.
During a press conference to celebrate the signing of the legislation, President Biden stated that his administration has taken more executive action to reduce gun violence than any other president during their first two years in office.
“Today is many things,” said President Biden. “It’s proof that despite the naysayers, we can make meaningful progress in dealing with gun violence. Make no mistake about it, this legislation is real progress, but more has to be done… The provision of this new legislation is going to save lives, and it’s proof that in today’s politics, we can come together on a bipartisan basis to get important things done, even on an issue as tough as guns.”
The Biden Administration also promised to continue to use “all of the tools at its disposal” to address the epidemic of gun violence.
The President’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget proposes $32 billion in additional funding to fight crime, which also includes $20.6 billion in discretionary funding for federal law enforcement and state and local law enforcement and crime prevention programs—an increase of 11% over Fiscal Year 22 enacted ($18.6 billion) and 18% over Fiscal Year 21 enacted ($17.5 billion).
The Kemp family joined President Biden on the South Lawn of the White House, along with members of Congress, community and civic leaders, as well as other families who lost loved ones to gun violence.
Congressman Al Green (TX-09) was also on hand to observe the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.
Congressman Green released the following statement:
“As a longtime supporter of gun safety laws, I voted for this bill’s passage just over two weeks ago. While I believe it will make a difference, I realize that it is not a final step, it is a step in the right direction,” said Congressman Green. “No American should avoid going out in public or partaking in ordinary activities for fear of losing their life. This bill not only implements key measures to help save lives—such as enhanced background checks for people under 21, closing the ‘boyfriend loophole,’ and funding for the implementation of red flag laws—but also highlights the importance of bipartisanship as well as how lawmakers can come together in times of challenge and controversy to deliver for the American people.”
Congressman Green concluded, “While this bill is a step in the right direction, it is not the end-all-be-all when it comes to gun violence prevention; there is still great work to be done.”
As stated, President Biden has taken more executive actions to address gun violence and the details those 21 Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence are as followed:
Keeping Especially Dangerous Weapons and Repeat Shooters Off Our Streets
- The Justice Department issued a final ruleto rein in the proliferation of ghost guns, which are unserialized, privately made firearms that are increasingly being recovered at crime scenes.
- The Attorney General directed every U.S. Attorney’s Officenationwide to increase resources dedicated to district specific violent crime strategies.
- The Justice Department issued a proposed ruleto better regulate when devices marketed as firearm stabilizing braces effectively turn pistols into short-barreled rifles subject to the National Firearms Act.
Keeping Guns Out of the Wrong Hands
- The Justice Department published model extreme risk protection order legislationto make it easier for states that want to adopt these red flag laws to do so.
- The Justice Department issued the first volumeof its new, comprehensive report on firearms commerce and trafficking.
- The Justice Department announced a new policy to underscore zero tolerancefor willful violations of the law by federally licensed firearms dealers that put public safety at risk.
- The Justice Department launched five new law enforcement strike forcesfocused on addressing significant firearms trafficking corridors that have diverted guns to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and Washington, D.C.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched a new paid media campaignfeaturing a series of public service announcements to reinforce the key message that a simple gun lock can save lives.
- The Departments of Defense (DOD), Health and Human Services (HHS), Homeland Security (DHS), Justice (DOJ), and Veterans Affairs (VA), as well as the Office of Emergency Medical Services within the Department of Transportation (DOT), announced that they will jointly create a plan for addressing lethal means safety awareness, education, training, and program evaluation.
- ATF issueda final rule clarifying firearms dealers’ statutory obligations to make available for purchase compatible secure gun storage or safety devices.
Making Additional Progress to Reduce Community Violence
- The President called for cities and states to use American Rescue Plan funding to reduce gun crime and other violent crime, including by investing in community violence interventions and prevention. Through May 2022, $10 billionin American Rescue Plan funds had been committed to public safety and violence prevention – including at least $6.5 billion in State and Local funds committed by more than half of states and more than 300 communities across the country.
- Five federal agencies made changes to 26 different programs to direct vital support to community violence intervention programs as quickly as possible. For example:
- The National Institutes of Health announced funding through its Firearm Injury and Mortality Prevention Research grants for four community violence programs – including a place-based strategy involving repurposing vacant lots in Detroit, an evaluation of READI Chicago, a burnout prevention program for violence interrupters in Chicago, and a hospital-based violence intervention program focused on youth in Virginia.
- The Justice Department announced $187 million for states and $85 million for localities through the Byrne JAG Program to support coordinated violence prevention and intervention; the Department explicitly encouraged the use of these funds for CVI.
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development published a guide explaining to localities how Community Development Block Grants – a $3.4 billion annual funding stream –can be used to fund CVI strategies.
- The Department of Education released a letterto state school associations on how 21st Century Learning Centers funds and Student Support and Academic enrichment programs – both billion-dollar formula grant funding streams – can be used to fund CVI strategies in schools.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services hosted a webinar and published information to educate states on how they can use Medicaid to reimburse certain community violence intervention programs, like Hospital-Based Violence Interventions. Last year, Connecticut and Illinois enacted legislation that allows Medicaid to reimburse providers for hospital-based violence prevention services – the first two states in the country to pursue this approach. According to reporting by USA Today, “[t]he idea has been in the works for years, advocates say, but not until the Biden administration signaled that states could – and should – use Medicaid dollars to support these violence prevention programs have state lawmakers stepped up.”
- Senior White House staff established The White House Community Violence Intervention Collaborative, a 16-jurisdiction cohort of mayors, law enforcement, CVI experts, and philanthropic leaders committed to using American Rescue Plan funding or other public funding to increase investment in their community violence intervention infrastructure.
Providing Law Enforcement with the Tools and Resources They Need to Reduce Gun Violence
- The Justice Department announced$139 million in grants to local law enforcement that will put over 1,000 police officers on the beat through the COPS Office Hiring Program.
- The Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) expanded theDomestic Violence Homicide Prevention Firearms Technical Assistance Project (FTAP).
Addressing the Root Causes of Gun Violence
- The Department of Labor awarded$89 million through its YouthBuild program to provide pre-apprenticeship opportunities for young people ages 16-24.
- The Department of Labor awarded $20 million through its Workforce Pathways for Youth program to expand workforce development activities that serve youth ages 14-21 during “out of school” time (non-school hours).
- The Department of Labor awarded$85.5 million to help formerly incarcerated adults and young people in 28 communities transition out of the criminal justice system and connect with quality jobs.
- The Department of Labor awarded $25.5 million in Young Adult Reentry Partnershipgrants to organizations that will help provide education and training services to young adults between 18-24 who were previously involved with the justice system or who left high school before graduation.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program, awarded nearly $1 billionin American Rescue Plan (ARP) supplemental funding to support services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and their children.
It is our hope that more meaningful legislation will be passed and signed into law, which ensures our communities, churches, neighborhoods, and schools are safe and protected. We need to ensure that organizations that have been formed to deal with the after-effects of gun violence survivors are no longer a need.