A smarter way to reduce gun deaths

Do We Care About Gun Violence and Violence? : Kathy Pisabaj, a Chicagoan who was 19 when she was shot by a stranger

CNN Opinion series ” America’s Future Starts Now” is a series where people share how they have been affected by the biggest issues facing the nation and experts offer their proposed solutions. The views expressed in these commentaries are the authors’ own. CNN has more opinion.

Concerns about violent crime and guns remain top of mind for American voters, polls show time and again. These issues certainly stick with Kathy Pisabaj, of Chicago, who was 19 in 2018 when she was shot by a stranger and nearly died.

“We believed that if we stayed away from gangs, we would not get hurt,” she wrote. Every single day, gun violence wreaks havoc in communities and wreaks havoc on my life as well.

The area where I grew up is known for poverty, drug abuse and violent crime. It’s just a few miles from what was the “Winter White House,” or Mar-a-Lago.

In 2015, the rate of violent crime in West Palm Beach was the same as Chicago. We were sad because every time we watched the news, someone we knew had been shot or the suspect in a shooting came to mind. We wanted to try and do something about it.

Inner City Innovations: Mentoring, Community Service and Leadership Development for the Victims of Gun Violence in the Era of Proactive Policing

At the time, I worked a graveyard shift for an emergency shelter for young people. My cousin was working at a nonprofit when I was younger. Together, we went on to create Inner City Innovators, a nonprofit with three initiatives.

One of them is our Hope Dealer mentoring program, which combines individual and peer-to-peer mentoring, leadership development, community service and social-emotional learning. The youth (13+) have to be given someone to talk to.

We also do court advocacy. Young men are more likely to get gun charges at 15 or 16. Once they’re in that kind of trouble, no traditional mentoring program accepts them. We have partnerships with public defenders to give these young men a second chance.

Our goal is simple: to keep every young man in our program free and alive through age 25. The brain is finished developing around 25 so most offending begins there. When this demographic struggles most, we want to capture and stable them.

We don’t want to just keep them alive physically. We want them to remain alive emotionally as well as spiritually. We expose them to yoga and other out-of-the-hood experiences. When you’re born and raised in a community of constant disadvantage, you think everywhere is like that. We want them to do more.

Poverty, lack of education and home issues are not sources of shame. Those are sources of power. I’m hoping they use these things to make better decisions.

We give them space to be involved and space to lead. When you challenge a young person who’s been through hard times, they want to stand up and show you they’re capable.

We can’t stop all shootings. Most of the young men in the Hope Dealer mentoring program stay on the path we put them on and leave activities that require picking up firearms behind them.

Ricky Aiken is the founder and executive director of Inner City Innovators, a nonprofit based in West Palm Beach, Florida, that combats crime rates and gun violence by empowering and inspiring inner-city youth through mentoring programs, anti-violence workshops and community engagement. This piece was adapted from an interview with CNN’s Jessica Ravitz Cherof.

The funding bills will be welcomed but they don’t address underlying issues driving up crime rates. It feels like police have been placed on the back foot. The era of proactive policing has come to an end, and violent crime has soared. A new wave of progressive district attorneys bent on criminal justice reform, in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, have run into the hard wall of angry residents demanding public safety.

A college classmate of my son’s was murdered during an attempted carjacking. My daughter, a physician in residency, was assaulted. In the eight months since I wrote that piece, circumstances haven’t changed.

My son’s friends, living in his former apartment, were robbed at gunpoint during a home invasion. My daughter told me that I had to stop wearing the Apple Watch because she was worried that I would be mugged.

The Politics of Gun Violence in the House: The Importance of Political Will to Protect the Law-abiding Guns in the U.S.

Most crime is prosecuted at the state level, but the political implications of that crime at the federal level are significant. Republican congressional candidates are deploying the crime issue effectively against Democrats because it resonates with base and swing voters. As a matter of damage control, House Democrats recently passed a package of four police funding bills in an attempt to shore up support among voters who believe them to be too soft on crime or in support of defunding the police.

In order to restore order and solve the crime problem, the most important thing that can be done is for the district attorneys, mayors and council members of the area to publicly show their support for law enforcement officers and allow them to do what needs to be done. Morale is low in too many police departments and district attorney offices throughout the country, leading to dangerously high turnover rates while leaving behind understaffed and less experienced police officers and prosecutors.

Republicans need to make gun safety a priority. I give credit to Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut for their leadership on gun safety with the recent enactment of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. But more needs to be done. Universal firearm background checks, red flag laws, bump stock bans and raising the age for most long-gun purchases to 21 will not infringe on the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

It’s long past time to address the blatant lawlessness in communities across the country. There is no reason we can’t do it. It requires political will.

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2022/10/12/opinions/gun-violence-crime-solutions-roundup/index.html

The Lock it Up Campaign: Gun Safety Campaign Across the Distinction Between Police, Government and State Laws: A Memorandum from Charlie Dent

Charlie Dent is a former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania who served as chair of the House Ethics Committee and chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies. He is a political commentator.

We’re all tired of the state of politics in our country today. Tired of the divisiveness and the divisiveness of the internet. When people inquire about why I decided to run for council, I remind them that we can really make change at the local level.

With our hands tied by preemption laws, which allow state laws to preempt what local governments can do, and the challenges of South Carolina’s deep red political climate, we’ve had to get creative and develop relationships across the spectrum of viewpoints around gun violence to be successful.

The Lock it Up Campaign was started to increase safe firearm storage. Our police department and local community groups worked together to launch gun safety campaign. Informational materials and gun locks were given to people, to help with gun related injuries. The National Crime Prevention Council reports that almost a third of accidental shooting deaths of children happen in the home when children play with loaded guns.

The campaign was so successful, we ran out of gun locks within an hour. Our state gun armory took notice and donated another 150 locks and helped us spread the word. The campaign made the statement that the city will do its part, even though it wasn’t going to solve the entire problem of gun violence. That was important to our citizens.

The law I led to pass required citizens in the city to report lost or stolen guns in 24 hours if they had ever left them. South Carolina is third in the country for guns stolen out of vehicles, which is why I spearheaded the effort to pass the law.

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2022/10/12/opinions/gun-violence-crime-solutions-roundup/index.html

The Campaign to End Gun Violence: The Case of LeGend Taliferro, the First South Asian City Councilwoman to be elected to Local Government

A PhD student in public health, Aditi Bussells is a city councilwoman in South Carolina. She is the first South Asian woman to be elected to local government in the history of South Carolina.

Two years ago, Kansas City lost 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed while sleeping, after a shooter opened fire on his father’s home. LeGend should still be alive, and so should the thousands of other children, particularly Black and brown youth, taken too soon by gun violence in our country.

In Kansas City, we continue to make historic progress in housing access. Money from the Kansas City Housing Trust fund will create more than 500 affordable housing units and a bond measure will generate thousands of more affordable housing units if it passes next month. Zero KC is a plan to end homelessness in our city in five years.

In 2020, my administration sued a gun manufacturer that supplied guns to felons and allowed illegal guns to flood our streets, causing harm to our community. The US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted an inadequate investigation before giving a new license to the operators of Jimenez Arms. Because of ATF’s refusal to act, we sued the agency, too, and eventually shut down Jimenez Arms, keeping their weapons of war off our streets.

In this fall’s midterm elections, vote for people who care about your kids’ lives. Question whether the candidate is the best for your community if they cannot assure you will be safe at school or in the grocery store.

Keeping people alive in our cities is more important than rhetoric. If people and kids are dying preventable deaths, we are failing.

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2022/10/12/opinions/gun-violence-crime-solutions-roundup/index.html

The quiet base of the proverbial iceberg: the story of gun violence in the United States and how it affects the economy

The Democratic Mayor of Kansas City is the Chairman of the US Conference of Mayors Criminal and Social Justice Committee and co-chairs of Everytown for Gun Safety’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

As members of the public, we tend to hear about gun violence through the tragedy of innocent lives lost. People who survive are often forgotten.

There is an 85% increase in substance use disorders among those who have survived gun violence, and a 51% increase in mental health disorders. The former includes depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and more. Drug misuse and alcohol misuse includes addiction to the very narcotic that can be used to treat a gunshot wound.

The effects persist at least one year after an injury. While the world has moved on after mass shooting, survivors of these tragedies are still learning how to walk again, fighting demons and living their lives out of the spotlight. This is the quiet base of the proverbial iceberg – not the tip that captivates attention.

Even that undercounts the economic toll. An estimated $535 million in revenue and productivity are lost by employers each year as the rate of employees and dependents getting shot grows. Gun violence costs the US an estimated $557 billion a year and is estimated to cost 2.5% of the nation’s economy.

The State of the Art: Why we need firearms laws in Ohio and how to make sure we are protecting ourselves and ourself in the presence of the public

The voice of the business community is important for public health. Indeed, the private sector has been a partner in public health before, from addressing the tobacco epidemic, to combating the opioid epidemic, to expanding health insurance.

Increasingly, preventing firearm injuries is not only good for health, but good for business. And, ultimately, the business case may rest not on minimizing the cost side of their ledger, but rather on an alignment of values with consumers that drives the revenue side.

For 35 years, I’ve worn a uniform for Ohio’s Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office. I started as a young officer and moved up the ranks. I taught self-defense, trained officers on firearm safety, and led a training academy for the Sheriff’s Office.

In a crisis we are not as accurate as we could be, because officers must complete hours of gun training prior to being certified. I’m 95% accurate on a good day, when I’m stationary in front of a target. But introduce loud noises, sirens, the darkness of night, lots of people and someone running at me, my skill level – despite all my training – will go down. And the likelihood that I, or any trained officer, will hit something we don’t intend to hit goes up. This has been known for decades in law enforcement.

I spoke out against Ohio Senate Bill 215 last year due to the fact that it went into effect in June. The concealed carry license requirement included training and background checks. It also eliminated the requirement of citizens to announce to a deputy that they have a concealed weapon if stopped.

Ohio residents should have the opportunity to vote on age limits and strict background checks for anyone who is purchasing a firearm and for those who conceal carry.

We are concerned with how to work around this flawed legislation, how to keep ourselves safe and our own training. We will point out what could have been avoided and pay attention when we hear about things going wrong. We will continue to offer licenses and training in order to overturn the law.

We, as citizens of the great nation, have a responsibility to prevent gun violence. I will continue to advocate for sensible gun legislation. It’s important for anyone with an avenue to talk to lawmakers to do so as well.

The Problem of the Gun Violence Archive: Implications for the FBI, the FDA, and the City of Cincinnati, Ohio: A Reflection from McGuffey

Sheriff Charmaine McGuffey is a lifelong Cincinnatian, a 35-year veteran of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office and the first woman elected to serve in her position.

There is an economist at a nonpartisan organization who is researching the effects of gun policies. Andrew R. Morral is a senior behavioral scientist at RAND; co-leader of the initiative; and director of the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research, a private philanthropy that funds gun violence prevention research. The views expressed in this piece are their own. View more opinion on CNN.

These statistics do not come from official governmental sources, but are rather the result of information compiled and disseminated publicly by a small non-profit organization, the Gun Violence Archive, funded primarily by a single private donor. The government doesn’t collect any data on mass shootings because of the intense public concern and the direction it may be headed.

The National Syndromic Survey Program, which was launched by the CDC in September 2020, will be used to determine whether the FASTER program can be used to monitor firearm injuries.

While a more detailed (and theoretically improved) system replaced the prior one, the rollout of this FBI System has not gone smoothly. The FBI’s new data system made it hard to tell if murder was up or down in 2021, as it collected crime information from just over 60% of law enforcement agencies.

This crumbling of the nation’s crime data infrastructure, even if temporary, could be an urgent problem for any effort to proactively intervene to respond to emerging crime trends.

The core module of the CDC’s flagship health behavior survey had a question about gun ownership, but it was removed after 2004. As a result, many studies of the effects of gun violence prevention that need information on state firearm ownership rates must use data that are almost 20 years old.

There are a lot of barriers that prevent researchers from collecting important data like information on guns used in crimes and this is the lowest hanging fruit. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives can’t give crime gun trace data to researchers.

The federal government has many of the requisite tools in place to do this, and it does it well on a wide range of other problems. It may be more difficult to fix the problem if you shy away from measuring it.

On the Problem of Gun Research: From Chicago to Los Angeles, Long-Baseline Colliders, and Bare-Locked Neighborhoods

The Times published a Page 1 article in 1995 citing critics warning of “modern-day Dodge City scenarios in which routine fender-bender accidents could escalate into bloody duels among gun-toting motorists.” False alarm, for the most part. Middleaged adults with no criminal history and pretty good self-control went through the concealed- carry permit process, which did not change the course of the community. It is problematic when some states allow people to get permits for guns even though the court still allows some room for regulation, and it is even problematic when the Supreme Court encourages gun proliferation.

In any case, even if it were possible to get a new assault weapon ban through the Senate, the ban wouldn’t affect the possibly 20 million or more such rifles already in circulation. During the last assault weapon ban, which ended in 2004, the sale of such weapons may have been discouraged by being made into icons of American manhood. The military has more assault rifles in their armories in the US than in private hands. We liberals have become champion marketers for the firearms manufacturers.

We have been as evidence-driven as we should have been. One problem with gun research today is that it’s frequently pursued by people with strong agendas, either pro-gun or anti-gun. Liberals sometimes leap on poorly designed studies if they support our conclusions, in ways that discredit our side. The liberal impulse to delegitimize law enforcement because of a history of racism and abuses has been done, and some police strategies such as focused deterrence, targeting those most likely to use illegal firearms have reduced violence.

Growing up on the West Side of Chicago was similar to that of one of us, in the predominantly Black community of Austin. (In Chicago, the median homicide victim is between the ages of 24 and 28.)

Austin is a neighborhood swept up in the trend towards de-industrialization. Poverty and unemployment are very high. While it still has some of the most beautiful houses in the city, empty lots and boarded-up stores are increasingly common.

Chicago’s Stahl Mills: a failure by the city of Chicago, or the fate of the labor market as seen by the 1980s and 1990s

One of the highest rates of drug overdoses is near the Eisenhower Expressway, which connects Chicago’s downtown to the suburbs.

We can see the implications of that assumption in the eligibility criteria today for the largest federal social programs. In 12 states, able-bodied, working-age men and adults without children are not even eligible for one of the most widely-available safety net programs, Medicaid. In every state, able-bodied men who don’t work get very little help from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), even if they are not in a household with a child.

Perhaps there was a time when the assumption that able-bodied young men would always be in the workforce made sense. It is unclear if this is the case anymore.

There are over a quarter of young people in Greece and Italy that are not in school or working, so what is wrong with the labor market in those countries?

The failure of public schools to prepare students for the future jobs of the future was seen as a failure by the city. In the 1980s, then-US Secretary of Education Bill Bennett famously called Chicago’s schools “the worst in the country,” due in part to consistent underfunding by the state of Illinois.

For an answer, look at the disappearance of so much of Chicago’s manufacturing industry, which used to provide a middle-class wage for people of all schooling levels. Chicago made as much steel as the whole of Great Britain in the 1950s. The city’s steel mills are mostly abandoned today.

One in five students and just one in ten Black male students reach their reading and math potential by the 11th grade, despite the fact that our schools have gotten better. And many are still grim places.

Some of the lowest test scores in the US can be found in Austin at the Douglass Academy High School. (It was originally built to serve 1,200 students; today it serves 60. It feels like a ghost town.) Still, Douglass’ alumni are thrown into the competition for professional and service-sector jobs that now dominate the economy — without the skills needed to compete.

They put public safety at risk because they limit the ability of cities to address gun violence through community violence intervention programs, as they move away from enforcement only approaches.

President Roosevelt launched a jobs program in the 1930s to deal with the impact of the Great Depression. Some 90 years later, we may need a similar commitment from the federal government to recognize the broader set of supports needed in cities across the US to address today’s challenges.

The limitations of our current social safety net are a relic of outdated assumptions about who needs help and why, and they have a negative impact on the streets. With the surge in gun violence devastating communities all across the country it is time to revisit some assumptions from the past.

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