Non-profit

Violence Policy Center (VPC)

Website:

vpc.org

Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax ID:

52-1571442

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2016):

Revenue: $833,038
Expenses: $794,598
Assets: $690,505

Formation:

1988

Type:

Gun Control Advocacy Group

Founder:

Josh Sugarmann

The Violence Policy Center (VPC) is a left-of-center organization that advocates for gun control policies. Josh Sugarmann, former communications director for the National Coalition to Ban Handguns (now the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence), formed the VPC in 1988.

The organization makes most of its money from contributions and received $4,044,630 between 2011 and 2015. [1] It received a total of $6.3 million from the Joyce Foundation, a leading funder of gun control organizations, between 1998 and 2013. [2]

Violence Policy Center continues to face criticism for misrepresenting facts and inflating numbers to further its position on gun crime.

Background and Founding

The Violence Policy Center (VPC) is a left-of-center organization that focuses on gun control. It was founded in 1988 by Josh Sugarmann, a former press officer for the United States office of Amnesty International. Sugarmann also worked as the communications director for the National Coalition to Ban Handguns (now the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence) and has written two books attacking the National Rifle Association and calling for a ban on pistols. [3]

Misleading Claims

Violence Policy Center has been accused of misrepresenting facts by multiple individuals and organizations.

The National Rifle Association argued that the Violence Policy Center’s analysis of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2016 fatal injury report contained skewed research to prove that gun death rates increased by a large amount from 2008 to 2016. VPC’s report purported to show that the Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, which held that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms applied to weapons in “common use” for self-defense including pistols, caused a spike in crime; critics noted that the VPC chart’s “axis runs from 10.0 to 12.5,” creating the misleading appearance of a trend. [4] Extending the same chart and using data back to 1990 showed a null trend. [5]

Violence Policy Center used the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) as a definitive source for its 2015 report on whether guns are used to stop crimes or kill criminals. The NCVS approximated in the 1990s that the average number of gun-related self-defense incidents range between 65,000 to 82,000 per year. [6] This estimate has been contradicted by multiple independent surveys that found the average number of incidents of defensive gun usage is well above 700,000 per year. [7]

The Violence Policy Center has a list on its website which lists multiple incidents of “private individuals legally allowed to carry concealed handguns killed private citizens in incidents not ruled self-defense.” [8] Despite calling it the “Concealed Carry Killers” list, multiple incidents are labeled as “Suicide”; some are listed as “Pending,” meaning the verdict of the court cases have not been reached on those individuals; and some are listed as “Unintentional.” [9]

While VPC claims to show the dangers of laws allowing carry of firearms from the list, its list includes a number of suicides and homicide cases unrelated to firearms. [10] Violence Policy Center claims that there is “no reason for assault rifles, assault pistols, and assault shotguns to be sold on the civilian market,”[11] and that there should be a ban on selling these types of weapons to civilians. [12] “Assault weapons” is a term created by the Democrats in the early 1990s to describe certain rifles cosmetically similar to military rifles; true “assault rifles” and similar automatic weapons are regulated strictly as machine guns. [13] Before a 1994-2004 ban on certain rifles, so-called “assault weapons” were responsible for two percent of gun crimes in the United States. [14]

Funding

According to the organization’s 990 tax forms, the Violence Policy Center earned a total of $916,187 in 2013, $705,099 in 2014, $812,988 in 2015, and $833,038 in 2016. The organization makes most of its money from contributions and received $4,044,630 between 2011 and 2015. [15]

Most of the money that goes into the Violence Policy Center is used to pay for salaries, other compensation, and employee benefits. According to the organization’s 2016 990 form, $492,259 out of $833,038 was used to pay for this, and $544,179 out of $812,912 was used in 2015. [16]

The organization receives most of its money from the Joyce Foundation. Violence Policy Center received a total of $6.3 million from the Foundation between 1998 and 2013. [17]

Violence Policy Center received two grants from the Joyce Foundation as part of its “Gun Violence Prevention and Justice Reform,” project. The organization received $175,265 in 2018,[18] $200,000 in 2017, and $250,000 in 2015. [19] George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, the California Wellness Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and Craigslist Charitable Fund all made six-figure contributions to VPC. [20]

Leadership

Josh Sugarmann founded and continues to work as executive director of Violence Policy Center. Sugarmann is a career gun-control activist, having previously worked for the National Coalition to Ban Handguns (now the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence). [21]

Despite his gun-control career, Sugarmann reportedly holds a Federal Firearms License (FFL). In 1992, Sugarmann and the VPC lobbied for a ban on issuing FFL licenses to private citizens. Sugarmann called the practice a “public safety scandal created by the very agency charged with enforcing federal firearms laws.” [22]

Despite successfully lobbying for an end to “kitchen counter” FFL’s, Sugarmann applied for what VPC might call a “kitchen counter” license himself. A Freedom of Information Act request shows documentation requesting an FFL, signed by Sugarmann. [23] Initially Sugarmann declared he would not be able to make a profit from the license which led the ATF to reject his application. After the rejected application, Sugarmann amended it, answering “yes” to “Do you intend to make a profit from your business,” and responded by saying he is a “firearms expert in design and manufacture,” who needed the license for “examination and publication of written material.” He also states, “no firearms or ammunition will be sold.” [24]

References

  1. “Violence Policy Center 990’s.” Nonprofit Explorer. May 09, 2013. Accessed February 04, 2019. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/521571442. ^
  2. Crc. “The Gun Ban Lobby and Its Funders.” Capital Research Center. February 4, 2013. Accessed February 04, 2019. https://capitalresearch.org/article/the-gun-ban-lobby-and-its-funders/. ^
  3. “About the VPC.” Violence Policy Center. September 26, 2018. Accessed February 04, 2019. http://vpc.org/about-the-vpc/. ^
  4. “U.S. Gun Death Rate Jumps 17 Percent Since 2008 Supreme Court District of Columbia v. Heller Decision Affirming Right to Own a Handgun for Self-Defense.” Violence Policy Center. January 17, 2018. Accessed February 04, 2019. http://vpc.org/press/u-s-gun-death-rate-jumps-17-percent-since-2008-supreme-court-district-of-columbia-v-heller-decision-affirming-right-to-own-a-handgun-for-self-defense/. ^
  5. Nra-Ila. “Cherry-Picking Statistics: How the Violence Policy Center Manipulates Data to Advance Their Cause.” NRA-ILA. Accessed February 04, 2019. https://www.nraila.org/articles/20180126/cherry-picking-statistics-how-the-violence-policy-center-manipulates-data-to-advance-their-cause. ^
  6. Kleck, Gary, and Marc Gertz. “Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun, 86 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 150 (1995-1996).” SemanticScholar. Fall 1995. Accessed February 4, 2019. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/24c4/f535e8c05a916ecddd0c9c5ae20ec93f53bf.pdf. ^
  7. Kleck, Gary, and Marc Gertz. “Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun, 86 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 150 (1995-1996).” SemanticScholar. Fall 1995. Accessed February 4, 2019. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/24c4/f535e8c05a916ecddd0c9c5ae20ec93f53bf.pdf. (Page 159) ^
  8. “Private Citizens Killed by Concealed Carry Killers May 2007 to the Present.” Violence Policy Center. Accessed February 4, 2019. http://www.vpc.org/fact_sht/ccwprivatecitizens.pdf. ^
  9. “Private Citizens Killed by Concealed Carry Killers May 2007 to the Present.” Violence Policy Center. Accessed February 4, 2019. http://www.vpc.org/fact_sht/ccwprivatecitizens.pdf. ^
  10. “Private Citizens Killed by Concealed Carry Killers May 2007 to the Present.” Violence Policy Center. Accessed February 4, 2019. http://www.vpc.org/fact_sht/ccwprivatecitizens.pdf. ^
  11. “Assault Weapons.” Violence Policy Center. June 13, 2018. Accessed February 04, 2019. http://vpc.org/regulating-the-gun-industry/assault-weapons/. ^
  12. “Assault Weapons.” Violence Policy Center. June 13, 2018. Accessed February 04, 2019. http://vpc.org/regulating-the-gun-industry/assault-weapons/. ^
  13. Beckett, Lois. “The Assault Weapon Myth.” The New York Times. September 12, 2014. Accessed February 04, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/14/sunday-review/the-assault-weapon-myth.html?_r=0. ^
  14. Beckett, Lois. “The Assault Weapon Myth.” The New York Times. September 12, 2014. Accessed February 04, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/14/sunday-review/the-assault-weapon-myth.html?_r=0. ^
  15. “Violence Policy Center 990’s.” Nonprofit Explorer. May 09, 2013. Accessed February 04, 2019. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/521571442. ^
  16. “Violence Policy Center 2016 990.” Guidestar. Accessed February 4, 2019. https://pdf.guidestar.org/PDF_Images/2016/521/571/2016-521571442-0e9048f6-9.pdf. ^
  17. “The Gun Ban Lobby and Its Funders.” Capital Research Center. February 4, 2013. Accessed February 04, 2019. https://capitalresearch.org/article/the-gun-ban-lobby-and-its-funders/. ^
  18. “The Joyce Foundation Awards $14.3 Million in Grants.” The Joyce Foundation. Accessed February 04, 2019. http://www.joycefdn.org/news/the-joyce-foundation-awards-14-3-million-in-grants. ^
  19. “Grants Landing Page.” The Joyce Foundation. Accessed February 04, 2019. http://www.joycefdn.org/grants. ^
  20. Data compiled from FoundationSearch.com subscription service, a project of Metasoft Systems, Inc., from forms filed with the IRS. Queries conducted February 6, 2019. ^
  21. “About the VPC.” Violence Policy Center. September 26, 2018. Accessed February 04, 2019. http://vpc.org/about-the-vpc/. ^
  22. “New Study–More Gun Dealers Than Gas Stations–Documents Criminal Abuse of Federal Gun Dealer Licenses and Regulatory Failures of Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF).” Violence Policy Center. December 11, 1992. Accessed February 04, 2019. http://vpc.org/press/press-release-archive/new-study-more-gun-dealers-than-gas-stations-documents-criminal-abuse-of-federal-gun-dealer-licenses-and-regulatory-failures-of-federal-bureau-of-alcohol-tobacco-and-firearms-atf/. ^
  23. “FOIA Request 2016-0163.pdf.” Google Drive. Accessed February 04, 2019. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0iquzdh25UTaXdhUjEyQXhwYWM/view.

    ^

  24. “FOIA Request 2016-0163.pdf.” Google Drive. Accessed February 04, 2019. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0iquzdh25UTaXdhUjEyQXhwYWM/view. ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: November 1, 1988

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2016 Dec Form 990 $833,038 $794,598 $690,505 $259,476 N $830,966 $0 $2,072 $149,559
    2015 Dec Form 990 $812,988 $827,422 $398,827 $6,238 N $812,912 $0 $76 $149,559 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $705,099 $836,062 $421,737 $14,714 N $705,021 $0 $78 $149,559 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $916,187 $785,534 $541,412 $3,426 N $915,111 $0 $1,076 $149,203 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $822,331 $750,311 $416,485 $9,152 N $821,355 $0 $976 $145,915 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $790,252 $746,068 $340,039 $4,726 N $790,231 $0 $21 $145,203 PDF
    2010 Dec Form 990 $832,471 $777,571 $615,229 $324,100 N $832,337 $0 $134 $145,203 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Violence Policy Center (VPC)

    1730 RHODE ISLAND AVE NW STE 1014
    WASHINGTON, DC 20036-3112