Gun Violence Goes Under the Microscope in New Research
Involved in a serious car accident? There are state and federal databases to record what happened, how many people were injured and government money spent to discover new ways to prevent high-risk collisions.
Had a problem with gun violence? Until recently, there was virtually no federal funding for a similar system, and patients admitted to local ERs essentially vanished from sight. In large part, this was due to fear that a database of gun-related injuries was just gun control in disguise, thanks to an executive order from President Obama, money has started flowing from the CDC to state agencies interested in expanding their national reporting system. The hope? That a better understanding of why and how gun violence occurs will help limit the amount.
That’s the hope of new gun research systems, according to NPR — by collecting information about how guns are used, it may be possible for law enforcement and mental health agencies to predict or even prevent violent crime outbreaks. Consider the work of Dr. Demetrios Demetriades from the USC Medical Center in Los Angeles, who sees one or two new patients per day that are victims of gunshot wounds. Dr. Demetriades points to the lack of reliable information: some crimes are reported, some aren’t, and some don’t include all the facts. The result is a hit-or-miss approach to lowering gun violence. Alex Crosby, an epidemiologist of the CDC, says the newly-funded program has already started seeing success, and hopes to roll out the system in all 50 states over the next few years.
The Boston Anomaly
In Boston, meanwhile, gun violence is down by 12 percent in 2014, as reported by the Boston Globe. For a city that has experienced some significant upswings in both gang and youth shooting over the last few years, this is good news — but what’s the secret?
It’s not a new CDC initiative; instead, Emmett Folgert of the Dorchester Youth Collaborative says that “people didn’t panic, didn’t lose confidence, and now there are results.” Folgert gives part of the credit to police who have been “relentlessly” searching for guns and getting them off the street — both through arrests and by running a gun “buy back” program. Local citizens, meanwhile, have been vigilant for gun violence. This includes everything from installing home security systems to ward off potential perpetrators and record criminals to helping disadvantaged youth and former gang members to find gainful employment.
Is there a simple solution to gun violence? The CDC is making strides with its new record-keeping system but in Boston, citizens are taking a different approach: united, they’re tackling this problem head-on and making real progress.
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