Gun violence disproportionately impacts communities of color in the United States, including Washington State.
These impacts are often underrepresented in mainstream discussions of guns and gun violence. In such communities, limiting the availability of firearms is important, but is only one of many necessary solutions to improve resources that address safety and enhance well-being. In the field of public health, this concept is known as addressing the social determinants of health, or the social and economic conditions that impact communities’ health risks and outcomes. While preventing gun violence is a complex challenge, this also means that there are many opportunities to engage in meaningful and effective prevention.
The Urban Institute, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, and the Joyce Foundation chose to learn directly from over 100 members of impacted communities (Richmond, Virginia; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Stockton, California). The results of their meetings were incorporated into a research report entitled “Engaging Communities in Reducing Gun Violence: A Road Map for Safer Communities,” which concludes that developing a holistic approach is key to reducing gun violence. Their four key findings are shared here, as presented in the Engaging Communities report:
- Easy access to guns by a small group of “high-risk” people is a key driver of violence.
- Law enforcement tactics that diminish police-community relations harm public safety.
- Social services that can prevent violence are woefully underfunded.
- Improving community engagement in violence prevention is an immediate reform opportunity.