Violence Policy Center

Violence Policy Center

The Violence Policy Center (VPC) is a national 501(c)(3) educational organization working to reduce violence in America through gun bans and restrictions. Founded in 1988 and based in Washington, DC, the VPC approaches violence, and firearms violence in particular, as a broad based public health, as opposed to solely a crime, issue." [ About the Violence Policy Center] "]


In 1994 the VPC was joined by the Firearms Policy Project. [cite book |last=Utter |first=Glenn H. |title=Encyclopedia of Gun Control and Gun Rights |year=2000 |publisher=Oryx Press |location=Phoenix, AZ |pages=320]

Numerous US gun control organizations have used VPC reports and terminology to further local gun control initiatives. [" [ VPC In The News] "]


The VPC has issued numerous publications on firearms violence, the firearms industry, and firearms regulation. [ [ The Violence Policy Center's Publication Index] ]


Between 1996 and 2006, the Violence Policy Center received U.S. $4,154,970 in funding from the Joyce Foundation, a non-profit foundation based in the Great Lakes region of the US that funds several gun control organizations. [ [ The Joyce Foundation's Program Grants List] ]


Criticism of the VPC

Gun rights advocates have been critical of the accuracy and scientific validity of VPC's reports, charging that the conclusions have already been decided regardless of the statistics. They charge that the VPC has a track record of making allegations for which there is no proof, such as the case of Ronnie Barrett. [*" [ The Decline of the Violence Policy Center] "]

Criticism has also come from other gun control advocates who believe that the Violence Policy Center takes an approach that is not politically feasible.

Other gun control organizations advocate a gradual approach toward their goals while the Violence Policy Center believes guns are a public health issue and that specific categories, such as handguns, assault weapons, and 50 caliber rifles should be banned.

Misleading statements

The VPC wrote the misleading statement "Semiautomatic assault weapons...are civilian versions of military assault weapons. There are virtually no significant differences between them" [ [ VPC - Bullet Hoses - Ten Key Points About What Assault Weapons Are And Why They Are So Deadly ] ] but they then contradict the first statement by stating that a civilian gun is semiautomatic but the military version can be semiautomatic or fully automatic which is a very significant difference.

Additionally, "The most significant assault weapon functional design features are: (1) ability to accept a high-capacity ammunition magazine, (2) a rear pistol or thumb-hole grip, and, (3) a forward grip or barrel shroud. Taken together, these are the design features that make possible the deadly and indiscriminate "spray-firing" for which assault weapons are designed. None of them are features of true hunting or sporting guns"

A forward grip/barrel shrouds are common on most rifles as it lets the other hand steady the barrel without burning their hand on it. (the VPC includes the AK-47 as an example assault rifle but it does not have a barrel shroud as it is traditionally defined but it has a wooden front grip like almost all long guns) A rifle without a pistol/thumbhole grip can be fired from the hip. Arguably, the most significant feature for "spray-firing" is an option for fully automatic firing which is a feature the civilian guns lack. A "true" hunting or sporting gun is left undefined nor do they explain how having these features prevents it from being used for hunting or sport shooting. Furthermore, this statement does not mention that firearms derived from or similar to military designs are often very effective for defensive purposes, for the very same reasons the military uses them for defense.

They further claim that "'Spray-firing' from the hip, a widely recognized technique for the use of assault weapons in certain combat situations, has no place in civil society. Although assault weapon advocates claim that "spray-firing" and shooting from the hip with such weapons is never done, numerous sources (including photographs and diagrams) show how the functional design features of assault weapons are used specifically for this purpose." [] this is a false statement. There is no evidence of any military organization instructing soldiers in "hip shooting" as a combat technique. In fact, a "hip shooting" exercise is sometimes performed only to show the soldier how ineffective it is. Despite referencing "photographs and diagrams", they do not provide any.

To buttress the claim that handguns are ineffective self-defense tools the VPC writes : "In fact, in 1998, for every time that a civilian used a handgun to kill in self-defense, 51 people lost their lives in handgun homicides alone" [ [ VPC - Press Release - (11/19/2001) - Pro-Gun Experts Prove Handguns Are Ineffective Self-Defense Tools ] ] However, they are comparing some people who used a gun in self-defense (only those who killed in self-defense) with people who were unarmed and murdered which does not show that handguns are ineffective self-defense tools. Additionally, this statement does not take into account the number of times when people use pistols to defend themselves in ways that do not result in the death of their attackers (e.g. not being hit in a vital area, or a situation where just the drawing of a pistol results in a de-escalation).

The VPC vs. 50 Caliber Rifles

In 2001, the VPC issued a study that detailed "the 50 caliber's threat as an ideal tool for assassination and terrorism, including its ability to attack and cripple key elements of the nation's critical infrastructure—including aircraft and other transportation, electrical power grids, pipeline networks, chemical plants, and other hazardous industrial facilities." [" [ Voting From the Rooftops: How the Gun Industry Armed Osama bin Laden..., Other Foreign and Domestic Terrorists, and Common Criminals With 50 Caliber Sniper Rifles] ", Violence Policy Center, October 2001] The study reported that at least 25 Barrett Firearms Company 50 caliber sniper rifles were sold to the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Barrett denied these charges and a subsequent visit to the company by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) turned up no evidence to support the accusations.

In January 2005, the VPC was featured on the CBS news and current affairs program 60 Minutes, which ran a segment on the subject of .50 Caliber rifles and the alleged threat to public safety that these weapons posed. [" [ Big Rifle A Terrorist Tool?] ", 60 Minutes, January 9th, 2005] The "60 Minutes" report drew heavily from the VPC's reports on the .50 BMG cartridge and conducted interviews with both Barrett Firearms' Ronnie Barrett and the VPC's Tom Diaz. Many in the gun rights movement found the story to be biased in the VPC's favor, and made the oft-repeated claim that a .50 caliber rifle has never been used in the commission of a crime. In response to these claims, the VPC has issued a backgrounder detailing criminal possession of .50 caliber rifles. The report still does not specify any actual commissions of crimes with a .50 caliber firearm, rather it is a list primarily of gun seizures that coincidentally to the crime committed happened to be in the owners possession. [" [ Criminal Use of the 50 Caliber Sniper Rifle] ", Violence Policy Center] The list does not clarify whether the guns seized were possessed legally or not. In September 2004, California became the first state to ban 50 caliber rifles.

The VPC vs. Eddie Eagle

The VPC disparaged the gun safety cartoon character Eddie Eagle calling the program "Joe Camel with Feathers". [" [ Joe Camel with Feathers, How the NRA with Gun and Tobacco Industry Dollars Uses its Eddie Eagle Program to Market Guns to Kids] ", The Violence Policy Center, 1998] The NRA shot back, calling the attack 'scurrilous'. [" [ NRA-ILA Fact Sheet - Anti-Gun Organizations] "]

The VPC'S Federal Firearms License

It was recently revealed by a check on the BATFE's FFL eZCheck system that Executive Director Josh Sugarmann is the holder of a Type 01 FFL. This effectively exempts him from the District's handgun ban, and authorizes him to buy and/or sell guns in the District of Columbia. Many gun rights advocates have accused him of hypocrisy for his work to shut down gun dealers.

The Hacking Incident

The Violence Policy Center made headlines on June 19, 2000 when it issued a press release stating that its website was the victim of a hacking attack that wiped out their data. [" [ VPC Web Site Decimated by Pro-Gun Hacker] ",] [" [ Pro-gun hackers take over Web site] "] [" [ Who Hacked the Violence Policy Center's Web Site?] "] [" [ Letter from John Conyers to Janet Reno on VPC hacking] "]

ee also

*Barrett Firearms Company
*Joyce Foundation
*Tom Diaz


External links

* [ Million Mom March Fractured]

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