State of the State: Gun Violence in Arizona
At a Glance:
On January 8, 2011, Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot while meeting with constituents in her hometown of Tucson, Arizona. The shooter killed six people and wounded 13 others. Since then, thousands more have died, yet no legislation has been passed since.
Here are the facts: gun violence has a real, fatal impact on our state.
What are the Solutions?
Particularly in Arizona, such conversations are needed given we are ranked 11th in gun violence and crime. Statewide, a child is shot every 5 days, while someone dies every 9 hours. The impacts are deadly and reforms like background checks, STOP Orders, and more emotional support in schools can have a drastic impact. As we march in the streets, occupy our legislature, and register to vote, change is happening and we must stay focused on solutions that work.
responsible gun ownership + Child access prevention
The presence of unlocked guns in the home increases the risk of unintentional gun injuries and intentional shootings — especially suicides. A 1999 study found that more than 75% of the guns used in youth suicide attempts and unintentional injuries were stored in the residence of the victim, a relative, or a friend.4 Several studies have shown that the risk of suicide increases in homes where guns are kept loaded and/or unlocked.5 In fact, nearly 1/3 of child firearm-related deaths utilized an unsecured weapon.
Unsecured firearms in the home also play a role in deadly school shootings. In July 2004, the US Secret Service and US Department of Education published a study examining 37 school shootings from 1974-2000 that found that in more than 65% of cases, the attacker got the gun from his or her own home or that of a relative.
Legally requiring, or at the least encouraging, safe storage of weapons and the usage of gun locks could have saved over 237 lives over the last 10 years alone.
universal background checks
Looking to other states, it is clear background checks do have an impact on not only casualties, but crime and the illegal gun trade. For example, Missouri repealed its permit-to-purchase handgun law in 2007, which required background checks. Afterwards, its gun homicide rate increased by 25%, crime guns recovered in-state grew 25%, and its crime guns recovered within two years of their original sale increase by 50%, an indicator of gun trafficking.
On the reverse, Connecticut’s gun homicide rate dropped 40% and gun suicide rate dropped 15% following the implementation of a permit-to-purchase handgun law which required a background check to purchase a handgun from any seller. Drops, and conversely raises, in gun homicides and suicides show that background checks are an effective solution to the gun violence that kills someone in Arizona every 9 hours.
Arizona currently lacks any background check requirements. Although background checks are required for federally licensed dealers, there are no regulations on personal sales or gun shows.
Emotional health support
In Arizona, according to the Arizona Health Department, nearly 40% of firearm related deaths among children are suicides. Given this, an effective solution to curb nearly half of all deaths are appropriately funding social workers and counselors.
School counselors and social workers play an integral role in preventing and addressing, suicide, depression, and bullying. - all things that can lead to violence. Supporting such staff can prevent individual students in school from reaching the climatic point of shooting themselves or others. Appropriating adequate funds, though, is an issue that Arizona has yet to address. Currently, Arizona has a 900:1 counselor to student ratio while the recommended is 250:1. This large disparity stunts the effectiveness of current counselors to prevent suicide and possible homicide within their campuses.
Extreme Risk Protection Orders enable allow families, as well as law enforcement officers, to petition a court to remove a person’s access to guns if they pose an imminent danger to themselves or others. In many shootings and suicides shooters show clear signs of distress. Nationally, 54% of mass shooters displayed clear early warning signs.
In states that implement such policies, Everytown reports that, on average, for every 10.5 guns temporarily seized, one life is saved.