Published June 1, 2022
The year 2022 is nearly halfway over, and the United States has already experienced 18,056 deaths and 15,103 injuries due to gun violence. By the time you read this, those numbers will have increased. In comparison to other high-income countries, the U.S. gun homicide rate is 26 times higher.
But this gun violence crisis cannot, and should not, be boiled down to statistics. These are human beings. They have names. Ruth Whitfield, the oldest victim of a White supremacist at a Buffalo grocery store. Eva Mireles, a fourth-grade teacher at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas. Byron Kelly, Jr., a 13-year-old boy killed while he was walking in his New Orleans neighborhood. Caleb Jordan, the youngest victim of a six-person homicide at a duplex in Milwaukee.
Gun violence can be stopped. The harmful ripple effects gun violence has on individuals, families, groups, and communities can be prevented, but no single action will make that happen. The Violence Prevention Institute at Tulane University understands the complexity of this problem and that it must be addressed at multiple levels.
VPI is an equity-focused collective of academics, community organizations, policy analysts, and government agencies working to foster transformative research, training, and advocacy to address systemic, structural, and interpersonal violence. We represent the fields of public health, medicine, social work, advocacy, and service undertaking efforts to study, implement, and educate on the most effective means to prevent violence in all its forms and its broad reaching negative effects. We prioritize this work because we believe that everyone deserves to be safe, healthy, and happy.
Efforts to enforce existing gun regulations and develop more effective gun policies have stagnated in our divisive political system that has utilized this issue as the focal point of the political party divide. Consequently, we have failed to protect Ruth, Eva, and many others. A comprehensive public health approach that starts with addressing the socioeconomic and racist roots and continues with the promotion of safe storage and handling must be utilized to end gun violence.
Collaborative efforts by individuals, communities, politicians, health and human services bureaucrats, and media organizations are required, and their joint efforts must address the following:
- Require elected officials to allocate promised resources toward research and practices focused on developing and implementing evidence-based policies and actions to prevent gun violence
- Treat mass gun violence as acts of domestic terrorism to prevent future tragedies
- Excavate the inequity, racism, and other forms of oppression that constitute the barriers to accessing basic needs, resources, and opportunities
- Reach across sectors and create and strengthen partnerships to address disparity and change harmful systems and policies
- Invest in approaches to improve economic stability as well as greening and neighborhood safety, which includes cleaning up vacant lots and abandoned buildings
- Transform federal and state policies and funding to guarantee access to physical and mental health care services for all
- Promote firearm safety among individuals and communities as a means to prevent suicide and accidental injury
- Further implement and enforce policies requiring background checks that leverage integrated federal data, limiting access for those subject to protection orders, increasing the age of gun purchasing, and other research-informed gun safety measures
- Increase funding focused on fostering social and emotional development and emotion regulation
- Expand services addressing the consequences of gun violence on individuals, families, and communities
- Continue examining and implementing data-informed solutions that create community safety and well-being
Everyone has a role in preventing gun violence. Learn more about gun violence prevention approaches and resources. Connect with your communities through volunteering or becoming a mentor. Educate yourself and engage in difficult conversations about disparity, inequity, White supremacy, and other ways existing systems limit access and opportunity and prevent equity. Advocate for gun policy reform and increased funding for violence prevention by writing, calling, and lobbying your state and federal representatives. Vote.
The VPI mourns the loss of life and grieves together with the families and loved ones of those who have died due to this preventable public health crisis. We renew our commitment to work alongside those taking action to achieve systemic equity. Let what you may be feeling right now drive you to action so that gun violence does not take any more loved ones.
The VPI Leadership Team
Stacy Drury, MD, PhD - Executive Director
Julia M. Fleckman, PhD, MPH - Associate Director
Samantha Francois, PhD - Executive Director
Katherine P. Theall, PhD, MPH - Senior Director
Tim Craft - Senior Program Manager
Hannah Gilbert - Senior Program Manager
Carrie Moulder - Communications Manager