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Is the rise in gun violence a public health crisis? This local expert says yes

Local experts are calling the rise in gun violence a "Public Health Crisis."

Posted: Apr 19, 2021 6:38 PM
Updated: Apr 20, 2021 11:37 AM

WABASH VALLEY, (WTHI) - The FedEx shooting claiming the lives of eight individuals late Thursday night marks the 147th mass shooting just this year. Local experts believe this high number is due to the rise in gun violence in recent years.

Local experts are calling the rise in gun violence a "Public Health Crisis." An analysis by Time Magazine and the Gun Violence Archive found that over 19,000 people were killed in shootings and firearm-related incidents in 2020. This is the highest death toll the nation has seen in decades

Locally, experts are concerned over the recent rise in gun violence and how this impacts the safety of the community.

"If this was an epidemic, if this was the virus, we would be dealing with this," Paul Helmke, the former president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence," said. "They have paused the use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine because six people in the nation out of 7 million have blood clots. We had eight people killed in Indianapolis Thursday night, and are we pausing gun sales? Are we pausing any laws that make it so easy? No. We need to deal with the gun violence issue like we deal with a public health crisis."

Helmke says this is an ongoing issue that is becoming more problematic because of the easy access to guns. According to BBC News, the United States is by far the highest gun-owning country with over 120 firearms per 100 residents. This is more than enough for every citizen to have at least one firearm.

"Other countries don't have this level of gun violence, and it's because they don't have more than one gun for every man, woman, and child in the country like we do," Helmke said.

Many community members would agree with Helmke, but others do not see it as much of a problem. A recent study by Gallup found that only 33% of Americans are very dissatisfied with the nation's current laws on gun policies. On the other side, only 20% are very satisfied with current laws.

"Part of the argument is more guns make us safer, but that's not true," Helmke said. "If more guns make us safer, we would be the safest country in the world, and we are not."

One local resident emphasizes that gun ownership is not the underlying problem.

"The guns are not committing the crime," John Moon, a local resident, said. "It takes a person to commit that crime."

Both Helmke and Moon emphasize that there should be stricter gun background checks. Additionally, Helmke says there needs to be a larger emphasis placed on mental health awareness going into the future.

For the safety of the community, experts are advocating for residents to take a stand and speak up. If you are interested in making a change, you can contact your Indiana Legislators here. For Illinois Legislators, click here.

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Cases: 732692

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CountyCasesDeaths
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