Combating violence through a public health approach.
There have been over 30,000 gun-related deaths in the U.S. in 2022, including last week's tragic shooting in Raleigh, N.C., leaving five people dead and two more wounded. Our approach to reducing this violence combines research—to understand why and how shootings occur—with collaborative community-based initiatives to prevent violence in the first place.
Our research team spoke with over 300 young people across New York who have been affected by gun violence to learn about the circumstances that led them to get and use guns. The dominant theme of these conversations was that young people did not feel safe: carrying a gun was one way they exercised agency to protect themselves. We are also conducting a multi-city study, in partnership with the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research, on gun culture in U.S. cities, with samples drawn from Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, and Wilmington, Del.
While traditional enforcement has a role to play, we must invest in alternative solutions, like violence interruption—a public health approach that starts with addressing norms and perceptions. Our staff includes credible messengers—people from the community with first-hand experience of gun violence—who incorporate community members’ perspectives and ideas into their work. By working collaboratively with neighborhood residents, they empower the people who live and work in impacted neighborhoods.
Changing social norms to improve safety is a proven approach used by many. Our team from Reimaging Intimacy through Social Engagement (RISE) works with Save Our Streets to address the intersection between intimate partner violence and gun violence. RISE educates communities on navigating relationships, identifying beliefs that can fuel domestic violence, and building new norms for healthy relationships.
In Brooklyn, where a holistic approach to safety has been in place for over a decade—including violence interruption, placekeeping, and other community engagement strategies—recent reporting notes a decline in shootings by 20% in 2022. Citywide, shootings are down 13.6% so far, compared to last year.