Gun Violence, How Can It Be Stopped?

By: Logan Antio

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As many people know, gun violence has been a long-lasting crisis, especially in the United States. In 2019, there were 15,448 deaths (Willful, Malicious, Accidental) and 30,186 injuries due to firearms, along with 23,941 suicides by gun. Following the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, gun violence spiked to 43,551 deaths from firearms, with around 20,000 classified as murder or unintentional deaths, and more than 24,000 suicides by gun. The question is, why are these numbers changing so drastically, and how can gun violence be prevented?

The COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed the daily lives of many people in 2020, including a surge in unemployment and substance abuse. For example, New York State had 1,186,994 unemployment claims, being 12.4% of its labor force. Due to the unemployment rate in largely populated states, chances of gun-related crimes or crimes such as robbery increased. For instance, the robbery rates in NY were increased by 22.4% compared to rates in 2019. During the stay-at-home orders of the pandemic, the factors of financial strain and the disrupted social support services had created a higher risk of gun-related suicide. Many studies have shown that abuse of substances may lead to an increase in risk-taking behavior, which can include gun violence. In a survey conducted concerning drinking habits during the pandemic, 60% of people reported an increase in drinking, and an additional 7.0% reported binge drinking. Combining the factor of elevated drinking rates and substance abuse with unemployment was a dangerous combination that could have led to gun violence and overall crime.

Before the problem of gun violence can be resolved, the origin of these guns used in crimes needs to be known. In a 2016 survey of state and federal prison inmates, conducted by the US Department of Justice, 90% of prisoners who possessed a firearm did not obtain it from a retail source, meaning they were obtained from an individual, off the street or underground market, stolen, or from other sources. This data shows that not only will banning guns infringe the Second Amendment, but will not be completely effective. So what are effective ways to stop gun violence? According to “Community and the Crime Decline: The Causal Effect of Local Nonprofits on Violent Crime,” a study using data on multiple programs in 264 cities showed that every ten nonprofit, community-building organizations per city with 100,000 residents led to a 9% reduction in the murder rate and a 6% reduction in violent crime rate. Interventions for mental health are also beneficial in reducing suicides, as 50.4% of all suicides in the US are by gun. The United States Air Force Suicide Prevention Program has helped to constantly reduce suicide, family violence, homicide, and unintentional death. Other programs such as early childhood school-based programs have shown positive effects on the well-being of children and led to an overall decrease in violence.