There’s a simple way for us to significantly reduce the gun violence in the United States. I mean, it’s simple. But we’re not going to do it.
No, it’s not passing new gun laws. I’m not simply expressing my opinion. In a thoughtful piece in the Washington Post, a statistician who is personally anti-gun admits gun laws won’t reduce gun violence. She and her colleagues analyzed gun deaths in the United States and found:
As my co-workers and I kept looking at the data, it seemed less and less clear that one broad gun-control restriction could make a big difference. Two-thirds of gun deaths in the United States every year are suicides. Almost no proposed restriction would make it meaningfully harder for people with guns on hand to use them.
But what about the other one-third of gun deaths? Isn’t there a law that could keep some of those from happening?
However, the next-largest set of gun deaths — 1 in 5 — were young men aged 15 to 34, killed in homicides. These men were most likely to die at the hands of other young men, often related to gang loyalties or other street violence. And the last notable group of similar deaths was the 1,700 women murdered per year, usually as the result of domestic violence. Far more people were killed in these ways than in mass-shooting incidents, but few of the popularly floated policies were tailored to serve them.
Understand, the writer wants new gun laws to solve the problem. But she examines the numbers with integrity and finds they won’t have a significant impact. Relatively few people die in mass shootings (although even a single death is horrific). Most die from suicide, gang/drug killing, or domestic violence.
Her conclusion is the only way to prevent gun violence is to have people step in to help others in these situations. It requires “being there” for people who may be prone to suicide. We need mentors for young people who are at risk of being involved in gangs and/or drugs. We have to give the police the resources they need to step up protection for women involved in violent domestic situations.
And that’s why I say the solution to the gun violence problem is simple, but it’s one we won’t do. Solving these shootings requires us to get involved on a daily basis. It takes a lot of time and energy. It gets messy. It’s emotionally draining. We live busy lives and often lack the patience to give hours and hours to help people who need us in these situations. And because of that the gun deaths continue.
Certainly I’m not speaking about everyone. There are many who do try to help. But not enough of us (yes, I’m including myself in this) make the time and energy sacrifice necessary to make a real difference. The stats show us laws won’t stop the violence. Only people can do that. Will we finally step up?