A new study published in the American Medical Association’s JAMA Network Open tells us what many of us already know about violence and young folks.
Basically, the researchers found that things like poverty, unemployment, or living in crowded houses mattered more in creating gun violence than how strict or lenient gun laws were.
In other words, more laws won’t fix gun violence. If we want to have an impact, we need to improve living conditions in areas that have been neglected for a long time.
So, the researchers had a good look at how these community issues and the different gun laws in each state affect gun violence. They used data on firearm-related deaths of young people between 10 and 19 years old, from the start of 2020 to mid-2022.
They then cross-referenced where these incidents happened with the local living conditions and how the Giffords Law Center rated each state’s gun laws.
Using this data, they came up with a “social vulnerability index” (SVI) which looks at things like income levels, the type of housing, and the racial and ethnic makeup of the area.
The results were pretty clear: the tougher the living conditions, the higher the gun violence death rates. However, whether a state had stricter or more lenient gun laws didn’t make much of a difference.
The lead researcher, Dr. Deepika Nehra, pointed out that, regardless of how tough the gun laws were, areas with high social vulnerability had a gun-related death rate 10-12 times higher than less vulnerable areas.
So, what’s the takeaway?
To really tackle gun violence, we need to deal with social issues. Efforts to restrict guns or disarm responsible people aren’t a magic bullet to solving the problem of violence and crime.
Key Points (From the Study)
- Question: Are community-level factors and state-level gun laws associated with rates of firearm-related deaths in children and adolescents?
- Findings: In this cross-sectional study including 5813 youths aged 10 to 19 years who died of an assault-related firearm injury, death rates increased in a stepwise fashion with increasing community-level social vulnerability; this trend persisted among all types of state gun laws. States with restrictive gun laws had lower rates of assault-related firearm deaths among youths; however, youths from socially vulnerable communities were disproportionately impacted across the spectrum of state gun laws.
- Meaning: These findings suggest that legislation may not be sufficient to solve the problem of assault-related firearm deaths among children and adolescents.
H/T to NRA-ILA for bringing this study to our attention.