For those who follow our blog and positions, it’s not new news that we are big believers in treating the root causes of violence rather than putting an ineffective but feel good band-aid on the problem. We’ve talked about it numerous times on the blog, but a couple of examples can be found here. (Oh. Also here, here, here, and this one here as well as others)*
*Thanks to Smokefan for the summary
The good news is that some in the media appear to be catching on to this as well. A recent article from the Guardian did a bang up job of making the data we’ve known was out there a bit more friendly. And it has also really hit home our very first statement regarding violence prevention- the areas and reasons for it’s occurrence are predictable and preventable. Let’s start off with our statement first:
“We favor root cause mitigation for violence prevention, stronger mental health care, addressing poverty, homelessness and unemployment rather than focusing on prohibiting or restricting one tool.
This includes opposition to the so-called Assault Weapons Ban, as well as restrictions on magazine capacity and this view is directly related to our preference on an enforcement approach to regulation.”
The article in question is this one:
Want to fix gun violence in America? Go local.
They also had a follow up article with additional data here;
So why are these two articles so important? What have they managed to do that other articles and research seems to have failed to accomplish so many times? They looked at the actual numbers and drilled down into the local areas. From the data, just over 25% of all murders in the country that involved firearms were not just from a limited number of cities, but even more specifically into neighborhoods. In fact, 1200 neighborhoods reflecting just 1.5% of the total US population have 26.5% of the total murders in this country…. What do these neighborhoods largely have in common? They are the result of decades systemic racial segregation, endemic poverty, and school systems that are among the worst in the country- which can be directly tied back to the segregation and poverty resulting in a lack of funding and administration for these struggling school systems.
So why is this important now? I’d propose that this information couldn’t be more timely. If we know that if we managed to address these 1200 neighborhoods, without simply pushing the violence in them to other areas, then we’d see one of the largest single year reduction this country has ever seen for homicides.
So how can we effectively use this data to make a difference?
- We know from a crime reduction perspective that things like the Richmond Office of Neighborhood Safety had success, as did Operation Ceasefire and some other localized programs. As part of a federal task force, hire the folks that developed those programs to begin looking at the other areas that are in similar shape. Be open to alternate ideas and allow for the flexibility to implement solutions that aren’t necessarily intuitive, but have been shown to work.
- Poverty reduction- I’d propose a job corps program to get folks in these areas back to work. There’s plenty of infrastructure, child care, program coordination, and other things that these communities need. Hire people from the neighborhoods to do the work
- Education- First we’ve got to ensure that the public schools in the areas most impacted do NOT have their funding stripped due to charter schools. The facilities need to be renovated and modernized, the kids cannot be hungry if we want them to get a good education, and incentives to teachers who can come into these schools and improve outcomes.
- Education/Poverty Reduction Part 2: Job training programs for jobs that actually exist and pay a living wage. Whether this be a trade school program, programming, or something else, the right education for jobs that are in demand for these impoverished areas is critical
1200 neighborhoods…… That’s not an impossible fix. It wouldn’t even cost that much money. It just takes will and vision. We’ve been talking about root cause here at the Liberal Gun Club for years- the data supports it. So let’s get on it.