Operation LIPSTICK Goes National

The Boston-based anti-gun trafficking program just launched on the West Coast.

In the November issue, I wrote a piece about the local nonprofit Citizens For Safety’s innovative approach to stop gun trafficking. Their Operation LIPSTICK program, an acronym for Ladies Involved in Putting a Stop to Inner-City Killings, aims to educate women about the dangers of holding, hiding, or buying a gun for someone else as here in Massachusetts, any of those acts can automatically result in a 18-month jail sentence, thanks to our state’s mandatory minimum sentencing laws.

Research has found that when a woman buys a gun for someone else, a move known as a straw purchase, that gun is twice as likely to be involved in a crime. Nancy Robinson, who runs Citizens for Safety, told me that she believes that society needs to dedicate the same attention to the issues surrounding women and gun trafficking as we do to drug and sex trafficking, and said that she hoped the campaign would eventually go national.

Now they have. This week, Operation LIPSTICK will launch its first program outside of Boston. California Congresswoman Jackie Speier will host the first West Coast LIPSTICK session this afternoon in San Mateo, with Robinson and Harvard School of Public Health professor David Hemenway, whose research helped establish the program, at her side.

“We’re extremely encouraged by the positive response LIPSTICK  has received from women’s advocates in California,” says Robinson. “Congresswoman Jackie Speier, domestic violence organizations, programs for incarcerated women, and others have embraced LIPSTICK as a new public health approach to empower women to stop gun violence. Today’s introduction of LIPSTICK on the West Coast signals a growing movement among women who vow they will no longer allow themselves to be exploited to take another person’s life by providing guns used in crime.”