The Centers for Disease Control will be conducting a study of the actual toll of gun violence in America and the relationship between shooters and victims. Keep reading to learn more.
The CDC may not be your first choice for gun violence researchers, but their stake in the issue comes from the sheer amount of shootings and massacres that have occurred over the last 25 years. In many ways, gun violence in the United States is a kind of disease – wiping out thousands of people each year.
While we know how many people die from gun-related violence, we don’t have a clear understanding of how many people are injured or whether actual correlations exist between the number of guns and the amount of violence that takes place.
This is because guns rights activists like the National Rifle Association and some lawmakers have stopped any attempts to study the issue in its tracks. Federal funding has been unattainable for decades, but this new push from the CDC could be the break researchers, victims, and loved ones need to move forward.
We have a relatively comprehensive understanding of gun-related deaths in the United States, but we don’t have consistent numbers for injuries. So, what will the study do?
The point of the research is to gain insight into gun violence in America and statistics related to gun-related injuries. Until now, there has not been an impartial study on the effects of gun ownership, but the CDC hopes to provide the public, lawmakers, and healthcare providers with necessary information regarding the relationship between bearing arms and violence.
Obviously, guns are responsible for death and mayhem, but increased access could encourage people with violent tendencies to act on their impulses. In light of the sharp increase in gun violence over the past few decades, lawmakers on both sides are between a rock and a hard place with their constituents over public safety.
By looking at injuries, researchers can see what kinds of weapons are used, underlying causes, and the relationship between the shooter and victim. If specific weapons are used more often, that may provide lawmakers with a jumping-off point for weapons laws.
Victims Speak Out
NPR reporters gathered testimonies from several survivors who want answers.
- When a pickup truck opened fire on the couple, Jennifer Longdon and her fiancé were getting dinner at a local Mexican food drive-through in Phoenix, AZ. Jennifer’s fiancé was shot in the head and shoulder, making him permanently blind and cognitively impaired, while she was shot in the back and paralyzed below the neck. There was no discernable motive for the shooting and no arrests. Jennifer and David would never get married, experience disability-free lives, or receive justice. Results from the CDC’s research could provide a breakthrough for her case.
- Another Phoenix native, James Hinckley-Wade, was 17 and in the throes of drugs and bad decisions. While high with friends one night, Hinckley-Wade was shot by a possible gang rival in the spinal cord and neck. He’s paralyzed from the waist down and has had to use a wheelchair for his entire adult life. James works to prevent the same thing from happening to youth within his community. He sees the study as a way to raise awareness for disabilities and prevent gun violence before it destroys someone’s life.
These are two stories out of millions surrounding gun violence. The CDC and its supporters hope that this study will bring closer to victims like Jennifer Longdon and James Hinckley-Wade.
This study is long overdue, and the U.S. is in desperate need of better research as gun violence continues to escalate every year. There may even be hope for people who have been wrongly convicted of gun violence – new discoveries related to decades-old cases could exonerate those incarcerated for crimes they didn’t commit.