More than 25% of America’s gun homicides happen in neighborhoods that contain just 1.5% of the country’s total population. The Live Free campaign and the Community Justice Reform Coalition are working to organize the communities most intensely impacted by violence. These activists believe that that making neighborhoods safer requires addressing gun violence, police shootings and criminal justice reform at the same time – not as competing issues.
Tougher state-level gun laws for keeping firearms out of the hands of domestic violence abusers were associated with two fewer domestic gun homicides per state per year, according to a 2006 study. Experts say making sure police departments are enforcing these laws appropriately is also essential.
Advocates have launched a joint effort this year across 20 states to pass extreme risk protection order laws, which would give family members and law enforcement officials a way to petition a court to temporarily bar at-risk people from possessing firearms. California passed a version of this law in 2014, after a campus shooting in Isla Vista, California.
Sandy Hook Promise, an advocacy group founded by family members of victims killed at the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, has trained more than two million students and adults in their Know the Signs programs, which helps people identity at-risk behaviors, especially on social media, and learn how to respond effectively.
The majority of America’s gun deaths are suicides, and the problem is especially serious in rural states with a strong tradition of gun ownership. Gun dealers and gun rights advocates in some states have been stepping up to help educate people within the firearms community about suicide risk and how to destigmatize seeking mental heath treatment.