Sarah Shalf

We Can Act to Protect Ourselves Against Gun Violence

CO-AUTHORS Kristen Widner


In the wake of the recent tragic shootings at the University of Virginia, Club Q in Colorado Springs, and a Virginia Walmart, the same questions have been echoing in the public conversation: Why does this keep happening? And what can we do about it? Advocates can seek and legislators can pass laws that attempt to address gun violence. But unless citizens are educated on how to use those laws to notify authorities and prevent tragedies, legislation is meaningless.

We study the passage of effective gun violence laws. We haven't finished our analysis, but we have gleaned some insights along the way.

First, the data we reviewed shows that gun violence is less often connected to severe mental illness, and more frequently arises from depression, anger or despair. The combination of personal crisis and easy access to a firearm is a volatile one. And for every shooter whose act hits the news and traumatizes its victims, there are many more who turn their anger and despair inward. Sixty percent of firearms deaths are suicides, mostly by middle-aged white men...


Sarah Shalf & Kristen Widner, We Can Act to Protect Ourselves Against Gun Violence, Newsweek (December 8, 2022).

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