Are we ready to fight armed violence?
Here we go again. Another mass shooting. Another community in pain, especially when so many people were so young and innocent. And another cry for Congress to do something. And then the same explanation that gun reform won’t stop mass shootings and we need to protect our Second Amendment. And all our condolences will soon melt away. Déjà vu.
Until we really look in the mirror, we’re going to see this happen again. Those who call for a healing time must realize that until something changes, there can be no true healing. I think there are three major challenges that we, as a nation, need to address before things get better: gun education, the will to bring about change, and investment in programs that create situations to proactively reduce gun violence.
In 2021, Americans bought nearly 20 million firearms, according to the group Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting(1). One would think that we are going to war. Certainly, the various hate crimes against Asians and other groups, the increase in property crimes, and COVID-induced mental issues have all contributed to our need to feel safe. But, I wonder if people knew some of the data below, if they would still have gone ahead and bought so many guns…
This is why education is so important :(2)
- Number of Deaths in the United States in 2019 of armed violence is approximately 4 per 100,000 people, 18 times more than the average rates in other developed countries. Data shows that where there are more guns, there are more gun deaths.(3)
- Almost a third of American adults believe there would be less crime if more people owned gunsaccording to a Pew study from April 2021. However, several studies show that where people have easy access to firearms, firearm-related deaths tend to be more common, including suicide, homicide and unintentional injury.
- While personal safety tops the list of reasons American gun owners say they own guns, 63% of gun-related deaths in the United States are self-inflicted. More than 23,000 Americans have died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds in 2019. This number accounts for 44% of firearm suicides worldwide and dwarfs the total number of suicides in any other country in the world.
- To six firearm suicides per 100,000 populationthe suicide rate in the United States is, on average, seven times higher than in other developed countries.
- One such study, conducted by researchers at Stanford University, found that men who owned handguns were almost eight times more likely to die from a self-inflicted gunshot wounds as unarmed men. Women who owned handguns were 35 times more likely to die by gun suicidecompared to those who didn’t, according to the 2020 study, which surveyed 26 million California residents over a period of more than 11 years.
- Gun-related deaths have been reduced after the introduction of stricter laws in Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Finland and Germany.
While the clamor for change is loudest after tragedies, voters haven’t seemed to hold our politicians accountable. In a recent Gallup poll, only 52% of Americans said they wanted tougher gun control laws, 35% wanted them to stay the same, and 11% wanted more lenient gun laws. fire.(4) What happened to fervor? We need an overwhelming majority to be for change, especially during elections. Another Pew Research Center poll showed that 38% of Americans agreed with Republicans on gun policy while 37% of us agreed with Democrats.(5) No significant majority , politicians feel no pressure to make changes. And with a large lobby contributing to campaigns to maintain or weaken current laws, we end up where we are today. It is clear that mass shootings will continue, but they will not lead to legislative action until there is enough political will. And it starts with voters making it a high enough priority for candidates and politicians.
Creating situations to prevent gun violence
While many point to the mentally ill resorting to gun violence, the research disagrees. In fact, the prevailing conclusion is that the vast majority of people with serious mental illness are never violent.(6)
There is some interesting research that links gun violence to the difficult situations that people have to navigate, especially young people. It is based on the idea that people who hurt others are not bad people by nature, but do bad decisions in extremely difficult situations, and having weapons readily available makes their mistakes exponentially worse. Perhaps then the focus should be on investing in ways to reduce the environmental factors that push them into these difficult situations, or at the very least, teaching them how to deal with these situations effectively.
Consider this example from one of Chicago’s most successful violence intervention programs, Becoming a Man (BAM).(6) Teenagers are paired up; one receives a rubber ball and the other has 30 seconds to remove the ball from their partner’s fist. Inevitably, the two teenagers find themselves on the ground, struggling and fighting to get – or keep – the ball.
After the teenagers switch roles and the same struggle occurs, the BAM counselor asks why no one just asked for the ball from their partner. They usually look surprised and say something like, “The other guy would have thought I was a wimp. The counselor asks the partner if this is true. The usual answer: “No, I would have given it to him. It’s just a stupid ball. (seven)
Educational tools on how to defuse situations perceived as difficult and insurmountable can help prevent violence, especially armed violence. We need to invest in and bring more of these conflict resolution strategies to the community as a whole.
Other programs, such as Sandy Hook Promise’s Say Something, teach students and adults how to look for warning signs and threats, including on social media, of someone at risk of harming themselves or others. others, and how to speak to a trusted adult in the face of a tragedy. This should be done at the community level.
Steve Kerr is right – but it’s time to fight them
On the night of the Texas shooting, before the Warriors game, Steve Kerr made an impassioned plea:
“When are we going to do something? I’m tired. I’m so tired of standing here and offering my condolences to the devastated families. I’m tired of moments of silence. Enough… So I ask you, Mitch McConnell, and all the senators who refuse to do anything about the violence, the school shootings and the supermarket shootings — I ask you, are you going to pass your own desire for power before the lives of our children, our elderly and our faithful? Because that’s what it looks like. That’s what we do every week. I’ve had it up to here. I had enough. We cannot numb ourselves. We can’t sit here and just read about it and say have a moment of silence. (8)
He is absolutely right. But while he called on the Senate to act, I say we must “take the fight to them” to solve the three problems I listed.
But first, we need a big enough voice. So how about the NBA teaming up with the National PTA, with its 20,000 units representing over 3 million members? The PTA already has a position statement on gun safety and violence prevention that emphasizes universal background checks, a federal ban on assault weapons, and a strong education program on gun safety and violence prevention.(9) This partnership would provide a stage large enough to provide gun education so people who are interested in buying weapons can make an informed decisionas well as providing a channel to deliver de-escalation programs, gun buy-backs, proactive outreach and communication.
What if this team partners with groups like Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords, San Hook Promise and Brady Campaign to prevent gun violence? Together, it would be a force to be reckoned with for candidates and politicians to address issues like HR 8 and others.
Maybe we can get Steve to join us, after leading the Warriors to their seventh championship.
- www.forbes.com/sites/joewalsh/2022/01/05/us-bought-almost-20-million-guns-last-year—second highest year on record
- https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2022/01/PP_2022.01.25_biden-year-two_REPORT.pdfpage 19