Each year since 2009, 3.8 percent more children and babies under 14 have been killed by guns each year.
And for people between ages 15 and 44, deaths have surged by over 10 percent each year since 2014, according to the new Boston University study.
Study author Dr Bindu Kalesan says that her work and that of others shows even further differences between various groups and communities that suggest that a broad and blunt approach to stemming gun violence may be ineffective.
Instead, she says that efforts to counteract gun violence need to be tailored to the groups they affect and address the social issues that drive them, such as poverty, mental health issues and drug use.
In other words, if you want to save lives, forget the gun bans, universal background checks, and bans on magazines of a certain size. Focus on the individuals who are responsible for the violence instead.
‘If it’s all about gun laws, we can’t legislate ourselves out of the problem or shoot ourselves out of it,’ said Dr Kalesan.
‘We’re advancing all these tiny laws that really have no effect…[they’re like] trying to patch up the windows and the attic windows – but the main door and the back door are open.’
Kalesan also took issue with the gun control groups that are targeting their message to suburban moms, rather than focusing on the violence in the inner city, like the high crime neighborhoods of Roxbury and Dorchester in Boston.
‘Imagine living in Roxbury as a fiver year old child and there are shots fired every day.
‘That’s very different from the moms who are living in the suburbs but fighting for gun laws. Don’t prescribe things to people that don’t have enough money to do them.’
She says that community programs intended to fight violence often end up funneling money into dead-ends or over-funding some of the less useful programs while leaving others unsupported in terms of both staffing and finances.
The researcher says her study found that youth gun-related violence was pretty steady until 2014, when it suddenly began increasing year by year. She believes it’s a sign of the growing economic disparity between the generations. It some communities, the increased financial pressure on young people may be seen in the increasing number of drug overdoses, or in the rise of suicides. The increased number of shootings, says Dr. Kalesan, is just one part of a much bigger picture.
‘When we look at the whole picture, we see that gun violence is part of the “diseases of despair,”‘ alongside suicide, drug overdoses and alcoholism, said Dr Kalesan.
‘[When we saw that] we had a vector, and violence is one of the first things that happens when a community becomes impoverished.
‘Future interventions, programs and policies should be created to address this shifting burden locally and should bear in mind the populations that are being most affected by shifts in firearm death.’
In other words, a broad, national push is less likely to be as effective as local programs targeting those who are most at risk. That makes a heck of a lot more sense than the politicians pushing for “commonsense gun safety measures” that target legal gun owners and low-risk individuals, but unfortunately far too many lawmakers are more interested in going after legally-owned firearms than helping localities address the violent individuals terrorizing their hardest-hit neighborhoods.
I plan on sending this article, as well as Dr. Kalesan’s study, to my state Senator and Delegate in Virginia. With anti-gun lawmakers looking to make life miserable for the state’s gun owners in the very near future, I’d like my representatives to be able to use this study to push for effective legislation that targets the real issues, instead of the bills attacking parental authority, banning guns and magazines, and rationing the purchase of firearms to one per month that we’ve already seen introduced by Democrats in Richmond.