Good morning, Bulletin readers. All week we have highlighted the stories of the nearly 1,200 kids and teens killed by guns since the Parkland massacre one year ago. Today we round up the evidence-based solutions that could reduce child shootings.
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PROTECTING KIDS FROM GUNS: WHAT WORKS
Firearm injuries are the second leading cause of death for American children and adolescents, killing more young people annually than cancer, according to a recent study from the University of Michigan. The high rate of child gun deaths is a problem that’s unique to the United States. But there are evidence-based solutions that can save lives. The Trace’s Alex Yablon and Elizabeth Van Brocklin have talked to the experts, reviewed the research, and gathered the most promising laws and programs for reducing youth gun violence.
Keeping guns locked up
One of the most effective ways of keeping kids safe from guns is one of the simplest: requiring owners to safely store their weapons.
Research indicates that safe storage laws work. A study found that accidental shooting deaths among children younger than 15 declined by almost a quarter in states that have such statutes. But only 11 do.
Holding adults responsible when kids use their guns
Instead of mandating how weapons should be stored, child access prevention laws empower prosecutors to bring charges against gun owners if they allow firearms to end up in a child’s hands. Academics have found the laws were particularly useful for reducing suicide and unintentional shootings.
When the RAND Corporation conducted its massive review of gun policy, researchers found more evidence to support the effectiveness of child access and safe storage laws than any other type of regulation.
Four states hold adults responsible when guns are accessible to children under any circumstances, while seven more penalize adults only if the child actually carries or uses the gun.
Offering therapy and mentorship to at-risk youth
In urban neighborhoods, exposure to violence can create a pernicious cycle of trauma and violence. But Chicago has found that group therapy and mentoring can offer a cost-effective way to soothe both the impulses that drive teens to settle disputes with guns and the psychological wounds those shootings leave behind.
The Becoming a Man (BAM) program uses cognitive behavioral therapy practices to help young men deal with anger and trauma and slow down their reactions in high-stress situations.
Launched in 2001, BAM now works with thousands of students at more than 100 schools throughout Chicago. A few years ago, the program expanded to Boston.
Directing support to people most likely to commit shootings
With the focused deterrence approach, police meet with potential shooters and explain that they are watching them carefully and that any further violence will put them at risk for increased punishment. During the meetings, social services providers also offer referrals to counseling, substance abuse treatment, housing assistance, and job training.
More than 80 American cities have implemented focused deterrence since Boston pioneered it as “Operation Ceasefire” in the 1990s. A recent review of two dozen evaluations found that the strategy was associated with an overall reduction in crime, including a 63 percent reduction in youth homicides and a 44 percent reduction in youth gun assaults in one high‐risk police district.
NEW FROM THE TRACE
Two big gun companies really, really don’t want to make smart guns. Forced by investors to publicly assess the risks associated with their products, two of the oldest gun companies in America have responded with reports that go out of their way to dismiss smart guns as a path to greater safety. Sturm, Ruger & Co. and American Outdoor Brands, the parent company of Smith & Wesson, said in similar documents, both quietly published last Friday, that they have no plans to develop weapons designed to fire only for authorized users, despite the technology’s potential for reducing shootings by children, gun theft, and black-market sales. Alex Yablon dug into the documents, and has our story.