We know that gun violence is a major problem in the United States, but it may be worse than you think. A growing number of healthcare providers consider gun violence to be a public health issue – and many are calling it an ‘epidemic’.
Gun Violence Has Already Killed Almost 14,000 Americans in 2023
As of May 2nd, 2023, there have been 13,959 deaths from gun violence recorded in the U.S. That’s over 100 deaths per day and 5 deaths per hour. All types of gun violence contribute to this number. So, while many people think of mass shootings when they think of gun violence, it’s not the only kind.
The latest data shows that, in 2019, there were 1,025 gun deaths in Virginia, an average of nearly 3 people every day. Out of this number, 87 were children and teens.
Guns and Suicide Risk
Having easy access to a gun is associated with a “dramatically elevated risk of suicide.” Every day, 64 Americans die by firearm suicide. That’s one person every 22 minutes. Suicide by firearm is almost always deadly – 9 out of 10 attempts result in death.
If you’re a gun owner who knows someone who’s experienced suicidal thoughts (especially if they live with you), keep your gun in a safe and secure place that only you know about.
Gun Violence Impacts Every American
We’re all impacted by gun violence, whether we’ve personally experienced it or not. Dr. Joseph Sakran, M.D., M.P.A., M.P.H., a trauma surgeon and gun violence survivor, thinks that we all experience re-traumatization every time a major shooting happens and the news cycle is full of horrific details about the incident.
“I think, every time this happens . . . it’s re-traumatizing the entire country. I mean, you look at what children in schools all across America are going through, 75 percent of them are worried that [a] mass shooting is going to happen in their own school, vs. trying to focus on education.”
Gun Violence Awareness: How To Get Involved
Data from 2020 confirms that states with weak gun laws and higher gun ownership have higher rates of gun deaths. The best way to prevent gun violence is to support organizations that work to make gun laws stricter. It might seem impossible, but change starts when people who care about an issue get together to do what they can.
If you’re ready to get started, here are a few regional, state and national organizations that can help.
The Virginia Center for Public Safety
The Virginia Center for Public Safety (VACPS) is a nonprofit, non-partisan grassroots organization dedicated to reducing gun violence in Virginia through awareness, education and advocacy.
Want your Virginia business to be gun-free? Download a Gun-free Space poster here.
On January 21st, 2013, Hadiya Pendleton marched in President Obama’s second inaugural parade. One week later, she was shot and killed on a playground in Chicago. Soon afterward, Hadiya’s friends commemorated her life by wearing orange, “the color hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves and others.”
Wear Orange is now observed every June. Thousands of people wear the color orange to honor Hadiya and the more than 43,000 Americans who are killed with guns every year.
Stop the Violence 757
Monica Atkins founded Stop the Violence 757 after her 25-year-old son was killed by gun violence in 2014. The mission of this Hampton Roads Area organization is to share awareness about gun violence and to “be the voice for parents that have been voiceless from such hurt.”
Visit the website to volunteer or make a contribution.
Sandy Hook Promise
Sandy Hook Promise is committed to “protecting America’s children from gun violence in honor of the precious lives that were lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School.” Through its proven, evidence-informed Know the Signs Program, Sandy Hook Promise teaches young people and adults “to recognize, intervene and get help for individuals who may be socially isolated and/or at risk of hurting themselves or others.”
Educators and parents can find lessons, worksheets and more for kids and teens via Sandy Hook Promise’s online learning center.
Moms Demand Action
Moms Demand Action was founded by Shannon Watts, a mother of five, after the Sandy Hook tragedy. You don’t have to be a mom to get involved – Moms Demand Action is now made up of all kinds of people who want to see an end to rampant gun violence in our country.
Giffords is led by former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was the victim of a mass shooting in 2011. Giffords was shot in the head and survived, but had to re-learn to speak and walk. In 2013, she founded Giffords, an organization dedicated to “fighting to end the gun lobby’s stranglehold on our political system.”
Ready to take action? Get involved here.
States United To Prevent Gun Violence
The people behind States United To Prevent Gun Violence believe that “leadership can and must come from the states” and that all the states must come together to end gun violence.
March For Our Lives
March For Our Lives began in Parkland, Florida, after the tragic 2018 school shooting. The youth-led movement went on to organize the “single largest protest in gun violence history with a historic march on Washington, D.C., joined by 800 sibling marches around the world.” March For Our Lives now has 300 chapters across the U.S.
American Public Health Association
The American Public Health Association (APHA) recognizes that, because the issue of gun violence is “complex and deeply rooted in our culture,” a comprehensive public health approach is necessary. By placing a “renewed emphasis on improving gun injury and violence research,” we can ensure that our families and communities are safe from gun violence.
National Network To End Domestic Violence
The National Network To End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) was founded in 1990 when a small group of domestic violence victim advocates came together to promote federal legislation related to domestic violence.
In 1994, NNEDV led efforts to pass the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This was the first federal legislation that strengthened the government’s response to crimes “perpetrated against victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.”
Here’s how you can get involved with the National Network To End Domestic Violence.
Brady Center To Prevent Gun Violence
Brady Center To Prevent Gun Violence has several programs dedicated to fighting gun violence, including End Family Fire, Veterans For Gun Reform, #ShowYourSafety, and more.
You can find out how to support the Brady’s Center’s mission on their website.
Guns Down America
Guns Down America is working to build a future with fewer guns. They do this by working to regulate the gun industry and raise firearm standards, and by investing in communities through violence intervention programs.
You can join Guns Down America or make a donation on their website.
The Purpose of Life Is a Life With Purpose
At Western Tidewater CSB, we believe that the purpose of life is a life with purpose. Finding your purpose in life – what you care about, what you’re good at, and what you want to do – can help you to lead a happier and healthier life.
Your purpose might be to help others, and fighting gun violence might be the way you do that. We can change the narrative on gun violence in our country, but we have to take action.
As Dr. Sarkan says:
“We often talk about the physical injuries. But there’s also the mental and the emotional trauma that takes place. You can imagine what a child must think when they’re sitting in a classroom, and they watch their friends literally being killed in front of them. It’s absolutely horrific. And we have the opportunity to change that.”
Are you or someone you know struggling with the impact of gun violence or another mental health concern?
Make an appointment for same-day access or call our Crisis Line at 757-925-2484.