In the last week, even among a few of our members, we’ve seen comments along the lines of “Yeah, root cause mitigation sounds great, but we gotta get something done now. This stuff is out of control”
Or “Root cause mitigation? That’s just deflecting from the real problem!”
Awful events like those of the past week bring awareness and a real desire to “do something”. And they capture our hearts for days and weeks on end as we empathize with what’s happened to the victims and their families, as it’s senseless and tragic.
And Root Cause Mitigation doesn’t seem like it would make an immediate impact. It doesn’t make for good bumper stickers. It takes time. And there’s a ton of moving parts. But like this article from the Guardian talks about, the current way we’re discussing the violence problem is not productive and racist as hell.
We focus on “mass shootings”, but that obscures the violence that really drives America’s gun violence crisis. Last year, gun violence in the US killed an estimated 4,000 more people than it did in 2019. More than 500 people died in shootings that included multiple casualties or injuries. And yet, for a full year, there was not a single major news cycle about an American mass shooting.
But there’s good news there as well. The article brings up several salient points that we’ve been making for years- Intervention and support programs have been shown to cut the death toll in half in the cities where they are implemented. And yes, we intentionally linked to a prominent gun control group there.
Unfortunately, then the cities say problem solved, cut the budget, and the death tolls go back up. Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Dallas. 1855 people lost their lives in those four cities alone in 2020. By putting federal funding into intervention and support programs we’d save over 900 people per year in those four cities, and if we pushed those programs out to the rest of the country, the lives saved per year would be in the 3000-5000 range. And make the cities and neighborhoods a better place to live.
That’s more than the last 37 years of mass shootings COMBINED that we would save EVERY YEAR. While 864 people dying in the last 40 years in mass shootings is tragic, not putting even more effort into programs that would reduce that amount of tragedy 3 to 5 fold every year is downright criminal.
To again quote that same article from the Guardian above:
Democrats seem to prefer fighting a high-profile, losing battle with Republicans over gun control laws, rather than devoting time and focus to less partisan prevention efforts.
And while it sounds hard it’s likely easier than unconstitutional bans that will get mired in court battles and leveraged by demagogues. But it’s not as good for fundraising.