Real Solutions to Firearm Death and Injury
On this Memorial Day, in addition to the lives of soldiers cut too short, I am also thinking about the lives that were cut too short during the grocery store shooting in Buffalo and the school shooting in Texas. These weeks have left me and I know so many of you breathless, horrified, and angry.
We are not powerless, though. There are real solutions at the community and state level to address youth firearm death and injury and youth violence more generally. We don’t have to wait for congress to pass policies or approve funding.
Some of you know I spent a year trying to figure out how to bring the right and the left together to solve firearm death and injury among young people. I spent our life savings too. I wanted to, as one of my mentors, Mark Gerzon, said, “make an f’ing difference.”
Different solutions will work for different communities to prevent and respond to the various ways our children are dying by firearm – mass shootings, suicide, community violence, domestic violence, and unintended shootings. Some communities will want more programmatic approaches and incentives. Others will want policies. Both can work to significantly reduce our young ones from dying and being injured.
The unfortunate truth is that even when funders on the right and left agree on an intervention (and there is more agreement than one might think!), they will not discuss it, or even be willing to be in the same room. They certainly won't contribute to a nonpartisan effort. When I asked why, I was told their base will not stand for it and they just don't trust the other side not to use it against them. The $15 to $20m commitment I thought we had finally confirmed to help communities elevate and implement solutions, didn’t come through in the end. And so, I am left with a menu of solutions and nowhere to offer them.
So, here is the draft framework summary we developed after a year of research and conversations with countless academics, former gang members, survivors of mass shootings, law enforcement, prosecutors, health officials, advocates, and people working to address the issue on the ground. There’s more detail, and I'd love to hear if you have further contributions to it. If you want to talk further, let me know. I would love to see communities bring the stakeholders in, have these conversations, and identify the solutions that will work for them.
We must stem the bleeding. We must act. Unfortunately calling your elected officials just isn’t going to cut it.