Alternative Ways to Control Gun Violence

I just listened to the presidential candidates offer their differing viewpoints on the Second Amendment, and while both state that they support the Second Amendment, Hillary Clinton would also like to see some common sense gun control laws enacted.

I am very much on Clinton’s side on this issue, and would actually prefer even stronger gun control laws than she would promote.

Unfortunately, there is some strong opposition to gun control laws that will make it difficult for them to become enacted.

Fortunately, there is research that points to successful, alternative approaches to reducing gun violence.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found that a dollar spent repairing abandoned buildings and vacant lots yields, respectively, a $5 and $26 return on investment (ROI) to taxpayers, and a $79 and $333 ROI to society at large through steps like installing working windows and doors in abandoned buildings, as well as removing trash and debris, and planting grass and trees. Renovated lots and homes may reduce neighborhood gun violence by as much as 39 percent as well.

Gun violence in the United States is higher than in any other developed nation, and the majority of fatal violence committed in the United States involves firearms. Every year about 100,000 people are shot in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Charles C. Branas, PhD, lead author of the Penn study and a professor of Epidemiology and director of the Penn Urban Health Lab, notes, “This study demonstrates sustainable, replicable strategies that successfully reduce firearm violence. They can transform communities across the country, save lives, and provide well more than a full return on investment to tax payers and their communities.”

Studying over 5,000 abandoned buildings and vacant lots, and their impact on firearm and nonfirearm violence in Philadelphia, the team found that firearm violence decreased 39 percent in and around areas where windows and doors were restored on abandoned buildings, and decreased 5 percent in and around vacant lots that had been well maintained – decreases sustained up to nearly four years after the intervention.

I find these results quite encouraging. The fact that a relatively low cost, simple investment such as installing windows and doors and cleaning up vacant lots and planting trees and grass has been associated with reduced gun violence should lead to more cities implementing such an approach.

I can’t imagine anyone would be against such common sense measures to reduce gun violence.

And it doesn’t even involve tinkering with the Second Amendment.


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