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Public Health Approaches to Reducing Community Gun Violence

13 Apr 2022 10:38 AM | Anonymous

Successful public health efforts are data-driven, focused on unhealthy or unsafe environments as well as risky behaviors, and often intentional about reforming systems that are unjust and harm public safety. While laws and their enforcement can be important to advance public health and safety, including reducing gun violence, minimizing harms of exposure to the criminal justice system is also important. Research demonstrates that appropriately targeted efforts that invest in and support individuals and neighborhoods at greatest risk for involvement in gun violence can be successful in saving lives and reaping impressive return on investment. [Daedalus; American Academy of Arts & Sciences ]

Gun violence is the number one public safety priority for many U.S. cities. It extracts extraordinary human and economic costs: firearms were used in 14,414 homicides committed in the United States in 2019, accounting for 75 percent of all homicides.1 There were 283,503 nonfatal crimes of violence committed with firearms reported to the police in 2019, and many more gun crimes go  unreported.2 Firearm homicides are the third-leading cause of death for persons twenty-five to thirty-four years old and the leading cause of death for Black males aged fifteen to thirty-four.3 One study estimated that costs related to medical treatment, disability, lost productivity, and criminal justice responses to gun violence totaled $229 billion annually.4 The impacts of gun violence go well beyond the people most directly involved in it. Fear of gun violence and the things we do to respond to that fear result in enormous costs to individuals and local governments. Economists at the Urban Institute found that surges in gun violence reduced neighborhood home values by 4 percent and decreased credit scores and home ownership in affected communities. A single gun homicide in a census tract in a year resulted in decreases in home values the following year of $22,000 in Minneapolis and $24,621 in Oakland, and decreases in home ownership by 3 percent in Washington, D.C., and 1 percent in Baton Rouge.5

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