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Gun Violence Is A Public Health Crisis

Steps we can take to reduce gun violence and promote de-escalation

In today’s world, violence is more common than it should be. Gun violence is among one of the most commonly discussed and fatal types of violence that can take place, especially in areas with high concentrations of people.

“Gun violence is a leading cause of premature death in the U.S. Guns kill more than 48,000 people a year, and firearm injuries were among the five leading causes of death for people ages 1-44 in the U.S. in 2022,” according to the American Public Health Association.

Gun violence is becoming a growing issue with Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy, the U.S. Surgeon General, recently labeling it as a public health crisis. Knowing that this is an issue, the next step should obviously be to resolve the problem.

De-escalation is a way to reduce and even prevent the amount of violence, including gun violence, that we see. De-escalation is defined by the Department of Homeland Security as “The use of communication or other techniques during an encounter to stabilize, slow or reduce the intensity of a potentially violent situation without using physical force, or with a reduction in force.”

Some communities such as communities of color more directly feel the effects of gun violence. Places like Chicago have many predominantly Black, highly populated and low-income areas where gun violence is heavily present.

“Many of these harms are disproportionately felt in our communities. Black individuals endure the highest rates of firearm homicides, while suicide rates are highest among veterans, older white individuals and younger American Indian and Alaskan Native people,” Murthy stated in a video.

Though this issue is one that becomes progressively worse over time, that doesn’t mean it can’t improve in the future.

Murthy’s advisory also stated that “A public health approach can guide our strategy and actions, as it has done in the past with successful efforts to address tobacco-related disease and motor vehicle crashes. It is up to us to take on this generational challenge with the urgency and clarity the moment demands. The safety and well-being of our children and future generations are at stake.”

It’s all of our responsibility to take part in the action to de-escalate and prevent violence. In honor of Gun Violence Awareness Month, please consider the following ways to practice de-escalation:

*Remaining calm and neutral

In situations of high tension and danger, the best thing to do is remain as neutral as possible. This contributes to diffusing an issue rather than creating a larger one. Remaining calm and neutral helps the person who is at risk of harming themselves or others regulate their emotions.

*Allow time and space for decisions to be made

When in high-stress situations, it’s easy to quickly react without fully analyzing the problem and coming to the best solution. Sometimes it’s good to take a step away from the situation to give yourself time to have a clearer mind and make decisions that don’t put yourself or others in danger.

*Be willing to listen

You never know the reasoning behind someone’s actions until you listen to them speak. By listening to a person’s feelings instead of the facts of the situation, it’s easier to bring a person back down to a calmer level and help them think of a more suitable action than violence.

To learn more about de-escalation and prevention, check out the Change Chi platform and wearorange.org.

 

By Cierra Lemott, Columbia College Chicago Alumni

Instagram: @cece.kodak / @kodakscamera

X: @LemottCierra

*Jada Strong contributed to this article.

 

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Written by Cierra Lemott

I'm a professional procrastinator and my hobbies include sleeping, eating, and Netflix binging.

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