Gun deaths among Americans under the age of 18 have dramatically increased in the past decade, CDC data shows, but experts say that the trend can be reversed. In a piece for The Conversation, scholars of adolescent health and firearm violence from the University of Michigan argue that, in addition to popular measures like safely storing firearms and enrolling young people in violence prevention and intervention programs, community-level upgrades — improved public transit, economic opportunities, and environmental health — can help reduce gun deaths.
For the schools superintendent of Mansfield, Ohio, there’s another key to preventing violence among young people: “We should be trying to find every opportunity to give them hope,” Stan Jefferson told Richland Source, for a series on gun violence in Mansfield. The Police Department has recorded an unusually high number of homicides of young people in 2023 — so Jefferson’s district has gone all-in on a “Peace on My Block” initiative, which encourages young people to effect positive change within both their communities and their classrooms.
The focus is on restorative practices and emotional learning, as well as hearing about young people’s challenges firsthand. “We as a school district have to say to our students, you can be anything you want to be,” Jefferson said. “Ultimately, what they need to know is we’ve got their back.”
What to Know Today
U.S. Senators Alex Padilla, a Democrat from California, and Thom Tillis, a Republican from North Carolina, launched the upper chamber’s first bipartisan Mental Health Caucus after bonding over their individual experiences of caring for loved ones in mental health crises. First up on the unlikely duo’s agenda: implementing a historic investment in mental health services from last year’s Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the first federal gun reform law in nearly 30 years. [NBC]
Louisiana conservative Jeff Landry decisively won his bid to become the state’s next governor, in an election that also handed Republicans their first supermajority in the Legislature since at least the Reconstruction Era. Landry, currently Louisiana’s attorney general, is expected to push for a permitless concealed carry measure after he takes office in January. [NOLA.com]
The state of Georgia is refusing to release evidence related to the January police shooting and killing of an activist protesting the construction of Cop City, a police training complex in Atlanta forestland. Police accountability experts say the decision not to make evidence available sets a “frightening” precedent. [The Guardian]
After a shooter opened fire at the State Fair of Texas over the weekend, leaving three people wounded, officials are trying to determine whether the suspected gunman was allowed to bring a firearm into the fair and, if not, how it was carried in. The fair’s policy appears to be contradictory, alternatively stating that no guns are allowed and that some guns are allowed on fairgrounds. [The Dallas Morning News]
Exposure to gun violence contributes to poorer overall community health, according to a study from New Jersey’s Gun Violence Research Center at Rutgers University. Researchers found that higher levels of gun violence were associated not only with mental health harms like PTSD and anxiety, but also with poorer health behaviors related to sleep, cigarette use, and physical activity. [Journal of Urban Health]
After a federal judge blocked Missouri’s “Second Amendment Sanctuary Act” — a controversial law that fines local police who enforce federal firearm regulations that are not also state regulations — an Ohio House committee tweaked its own “Second Amendment sanctuary” bill to address objections raised in the Missouri case. Supporters say they now see a path to a full House vote. [Ohio Capital Journal]
Several years ago, in response to a hoax school shooting call, Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith was disturbed to find that some lawfully armed teachers were storing guns in places where students could easily access them. Smith determined that Utah teachers didn’t receive sufficient training on carrying guns on campus — so in 2019, he started his own program, instructing school staff on safe storage practices, emergency medical techniques, and de-escalation. [The Economist]
In Chicago, BUILD Wants Its New Headquarters to Be a Community Hub for Young People: The violence prevention organization expands its services in the Austin neighborhood, giving youth access to a garden, a recording studio, and career planning resources. (March 2023)