It is no surprise the United States has a gun problem and action is limited. We have witnessed multiple mass shootings in recent years; it has become a numbing normality. Denver Public Health released a report on youth gun violence that claims on average, “700 young people less than 25 years of age are directly affected by gun violence in Denver annually.”
We have a tendency to believe we are invincible and think, “Oh, that won’t happen to me.” In reality, the effects of gun violence are closer than they appear; 700, 616 will be victims of gun related crimes. In fact, the report is only accounting the violence impacting Denver youth; the numbers are much higher.
From 2012 to 2017, guns have contributed to 74 total youth deaths. In the span of half a decade, guns contributed to 47 deaths classified as homicides and 27 suicides.
Who is being directly impacted by gun violence?
Young people of color.
Denver’s total population of black youth is 12 percent, and the Hispanic or Latino youth population amounts to 45 percent. Black youth’s rate of being affected by gun violence is even higher than the percentage of the population. Twenty-nine percent of the black youths in Denver are impacted by gun violence.
Meanwhile, the Hispanic or Latino community experiences 45 percent of the repercussions of gun violence.
Multiple factors can explain the inconsistency of the percentages. The neighborhoods that are dominated by people of color are shaped by housing, economy, and public services. The services and opportunities, or lack thereof, in disadvantaged areas experience higher rates of gun violence.
“By addressing the systemic factors that contribute to gun violence (and drive all forms of violence), we can improve community environments and create a foundation for health and safety in all of Denver’s neighborhoods,” the Denver Public Health report emphasized.
The steps taken to prevent and educate people in gun violence impacting youth are treating the situation as a public health crisis. Because of this, increasing resources for trauma-affected youth and approaches to improve the quality of life of the individuals being impacted are increasing. Awareness and preventative action is being taught at an earlier age, which can also help to further dilute this problem. Still, the problem is not completely solved.
“But, even if you’ve never lost a loved one to gun violence, you’re still impacted by it. We need to stop seeing urban gun violence as a challenge for black and brown communities, and see it as a public health crisis affecting all of us. We need to see the hundreds of lives lost or altered by a preventable problem,” Michael Filmore, a youth advisor at Denver Public Health, added.