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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

(Non-mass) murders are way up

The U.S. murder rate spiked in 2020 and 2021, reports German Lopez in the New York Times.

Cleaning up vacant lots and creating gardens lowered the crime rate in Philadelphia neighborhoods.

The pandemic, which closed schools and disrupted lives, may be one factor, he writes.

In addition, “the fallout from the 2020 racial justice protests and riots” played a role, he writes. “Police officers, scared of being caught in the next viral video, may have pulled back on proactive anti-violence practices.”

Firearm injuries — suicide and homicide — should be addressed as a public health issue argues Megan Ranney, an ER doctor. The Atlantic‘s Katherine J. Wu interviewed Ranney, who co-founded AFFIRM at the Aspen Institute.

For example, safe storage reduces the risk of firearm suicide and homicide, says Ranney.

Most youths who kill themselves with a gun use a family member’s gun. Most youths who commit a school shooting use a family member’s gun. Safe storage — making sure that your gun is locked up and not accessible to your kid — is a major way to prevent that. Safe storage is also important in terms of reducing the flow of illegal guns on the streets, which causes firearm homicide.

Passing a law isn’t enough, she says. Firearms owners need to make this a norm.

Creating a sense of community can reduce young people’s sense of isolation and lower the risk of violence, says Ranney. She cites Boys & Girls Clubs and community gardens.

For example, greening vacant lots in Philadelphia lowered the crime rate. “When you put in a community garden,” says Ranney, “you not only decrease the number of firearms injuries in that neighborhood, but you also decrease stress, depression, and other problems as well.” And it can be done now.

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