As gun violence continues throughout the country, including a shooting at a California school this week, Brookings researchers have had some insights to offer on the intersection of guns, race, suicide, and public opinion.
MOST AMERICANS ARE DISSATISFIED WITH THE STATUS QUO ON GUNS
When it comes to identifying causes and solutions to gun violence, Americans are all over the map. In their research, William Galston and Clara Hendrickson from the Governance Studies program state that “roughly equal majorities identify deficiencies in the mental health system and easy access to guns, especially assault-style weapons, as prime factors.” Across party lines, a majority of those surveyed cited inadequate mental health services as a contributor. However, when asked about owning guns or limiting gun ownership, responses fell largely along party lines.
SUICIDE ACCOUNTS FOR THE MAJORITY OF FIREARM DEATHS
Despite getting relatively little media coverage compared to mass shootings, suicides make up nearly two-thirds of gun related deaths. To combat this, researchers from the Center on Regulation and Markets suggest creating a voluntary “no guns” registry allowing individuals to voluntarily waive their right to own firearms. “People who, during moments of clarity, realize that they might become a risk to themselves or others may want to exercise self-initiated gun control,” they write, similar to “no gambling” registries that prohibit casinos from paying out registrants.
GUN DEATHS VARY BY GENDER AND RACE
Richard Reeves and Sarah Holmes analyze the intersection of gun deaths by race, gender, and type. Gun violence can have serious lasting repercussions on an entire community, with effects on education, family instability, health, and social capital. After a violent crime within half a mile of their home, schoolchildren experience an increase in anxiety and decline in cognitive function, Reeves and Holmes note. “Gun violence is part of a vicious cycle of race and inequality in the U.S., reflecting existing social inequalities, and also making it even more challenging for young black people, especially young black men, to escape poverty and violence.”