Insights from Safe Horizon's Panel on Gun Violence
October 5, 2018
Every day, 96 Americans are killed with guns, and hundreds more are shot and injured, according to Everytown for Gun Violence. At Safe Horizon, we support survivors of gun violence and families of homicide victims every day. We recently convened a panel of experts to discuss the gun violence epidemic, and what we can do about it. Here are four key takeaways from the discussion, and four ways you can take action, today!
What You Need to Know About Gun Violence
1. The Issue of Gun Violence is so Much More Complex That What We See in the News
“Mass shootings are just a small part of the issue of gun violence, but also the most publicized.” Eric Tirschwell, Everytown for Gun Safety.
Gun violence is frequently a symptom of more fundamental injustices, including racism and economic disempowerment. Most gun violence occurs on a much smaller scale than a mass shooting, but it is frequently not random, either. Systemic disinvestment in communities creates environments more conducive to crime, including gun violence. Lack of opportunities and basic resources can lead an individual to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do, to regain a sense of safety and control.
2. Reducing Gun Violence Involves Thinking Creatively and Compassionately About Resolving Conflict
All violence involves conflict, but not all conflict has to involve violence. “Peace does not mean conflict-free. Peace is being able to work through things in ways that don’t endanger you and me.” Tiffany Murray, Save our Streets.
3. Race is a Critical Factor in the Way We Do – Or Don’t – Understand Who Feels the Impact of Gun Violence, and How
In remembering white victims of gun violence, news reports tend to highlight their achievements, their best qualities, and their lost potential. For many victims who are people of color, the news presents a very different narrative. Individually and systemically, their deaths are minimized or even justified by judgments about their decisions or lifestyle, and the result is a dismissal of their humanity. Representation matters and every life lost to gun violence was a whole person with a complex set of experiences, achievements, flaws, and potential.
4. There Are Important Parallels Between Gun Violence and Other Forms of Violence
Women in abusive relationships are 5 times more likely to be killed if there’s a gun in their home, according to research published in the American Journal of Public Health in July 2003. The mere presence of a gun can also facilitate crimes like assault, trafficking, and robbery. “A gun doesn’t have to be discharged to do harm.” Kimmi Herring, Safe Horizon
What You Can Do About Gun Violence
1. Connect With Organizations and Communities Who Are Already Working to Address Gun Violence
It’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel. Many individuals and groups are making great strides. Connect with them, and work to amplify their message.
2. Engage on a political level: Campaign! Register! Vote!
There are unusually high political and legislative barriers to gun reform, many of which cannot be overcome without responsive representation. Voting is an essential piece of the puzzle.
3. Build New Relationships, and Start in Your Own Community
“Don’t just speak to the neighbor who speaks to you all the time, speak to the one who doesn’t speak to you. Those are things that change communities and change relationships.” Tiffany Murray, Save Our Streets Bed-Stuy
4. Keep the Conversation Going, Even When You Encounter Barriers
“Talk to your friends. Talk to family members. Talk to people who don’t necessarily agree with you.” Eric Tirschwell, Everytown for Gun Safety
Support for crime victims and their loved ones is available through our 24/7 Crime Victims Hotline: 866-689-HELP(4357).
Our Community Programs work to provide ongoing support to survivors of crime and violence. To schedule an appointment, call our Helpline during business hours (Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.) at 855-234-1042.
Thank you to our panelists!
Director, Brooklyn Community Program, Safe Horizon
Program Manager, Save Our Streets Bed-Stuy
Director, Litigation and National Enforcement Policy, Everytown for Gun Safety