Gun violence or gun related violence is committing violence with the use of a firearm. Studies have found a positive connection between suicide, homicide and gun ownership. Among developed countries, the USA has the highest number per capital of gun related deaths. It also has the highest number of people owning guns. Laws and policies have been set in order to regulate the manufacture, sale and possession of guns and firearms by American citizens.
Neighborhoods that are struggling with poverty, failing schools and unemployment have high cases of gun violence compared to other states. Intense Racial disparities is also a factor that contributes to gun violence. Lauren krivo a sociologist studying geography of race and crime says that violence is not brought about by race but by racialized conditions that are racially inequitable. Black men are mostly the victims of gun murder in cities experiencing high gun homicides that has also persisted for some time now. This is according to data from the FBI. A researcher at George Mason University on Geographical distribution of crime David Weisbard said that the problem couldn’t be solved if it is approached as a broad global problem where money is poured in a broad global way. Rather it should be taken as a state problem where those states that have a higher rate of gun violence are given the first priority. This is because much of gun violence in America happens in small predictable places. The violence is sparked by a group of high-risk individuals and is random. This is the first time the census truck has been used in America to map down nationwide gun homicides. The gun violence archive uses reports from the media to truck down gun deaths and shootings. Reports by the FBI national crime data provides statistics on gun violence only in the city level that overshadows neighborhood violence.
Conservatives and liberals have both argued that extreme social trends are the major causes of gun violence. Government failures, cultural violence and toxic dynamics in families that are marginalized are the causes of this violence according to conservatives. Consequently, racism, historic oppression, inadequate opportunities and availability of guns lead to violence according to liberals. In order to fix the violence both liberals and conservatives hold the view that intervening and making changes is out of reach. Researchers argue that the magnitude of gun violence in the USA can be compared to a contagious disease that is spreading rampantly. The risk factors are poverty and inequality and those at more risk are demographic groups since violence spreads like a virus from one person to the other.
Solutions to gun violence
One of the best approach in preventing the violence is to target those using firearms to harm others and themselves and find ways of reducing it. These are high-risk people though the number is small. Proposals have been brought up after many high profile shooting incidents like banning military style assault weapons. Though this may work, it can only save a small number of people hence not making an important difference. Local programs have reduced gang related violence by 20 to 40% thus communities should advocate for more funding of these programs. Limiting the capacity of ammunition, investing in intervention programs and threat assessment programs has been found to be more effective. A law was passed by New York State that required the mental health professionals to report any person who was found to be dangerous either to himself or to others to the state database. Some cities have done an analysis of gun violence and found that a small number of people are responsible for driving these violence. An example is Oakland where about 1000 members from few active groups were responsible for violence. A direct communication with these young men with a few assistance on regulating law enforcement led to a rapid drop in the number of gun violence cases. In Boston, a 63% reduction in homicide levels was reported. This strategy was effective through coordination between community members and the police department in neighborhoods that were affected by the violence. The strategy has been implemented in other states across the whole country and with enough funding, can be an effective way of reducing gun related violence.
Another solution is for the government to implement tough laws. According to FBI, data of associated press analysis 760 American citizens are killed with guns by either their wives or husbands. The data also shows that most of the victims are women. The shooting might end up with both victims dying, as most of them are domestic violence shootings. Laws, which have been set targeting domestic abusers, are not helping the victims that much since most of them have modest effect. Studies conducted by three firms found out that, there was a reduction in the number of deaths related to gun violence on states that set strict laws. Each year these states experienced fewer and fewer gun related homicides.
Gun shop project. In the USA, states with higher gun ownership have seen a high rate of gun suicide. Suicide is an impulsive act for many people. Easy access to a weapon or firearm can be very dangerous in a moment of crisis. The gun shop project aims to use people and not the law to address the risks involved. “A friend does not allow his friend to drive while drunk” and during crisis ” a person can hold his friends gun for a while, talk to them and counsel them, afterwards they can give back the gun and no stigma would be attached” said Eddie Cutler, Gun Owners of Vermont President. Though no research has been done on the evaluation of how well gun shop project works participants in this program are optimistic of the approach that has brought togetherness of people across partisan line.
Though rare, predicting mass shootings is very hard. Most of the perpetrators have characteristics of mental problems, disturbance and anger. Mental health professions and law enforcement can come together with schools and offer help by connecting the dots between risky behaviors and crisis. Schools and families of school shooting victims can work on training students to be aware of risks and potential violence threats.
Written By: Jeremiah Otieno Odhiambo
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