Analysis finds an increase in shootings during summer months, proposes solutions to reduce gun violence
June 15, 2018— As students from Chicago gathered on the city’s South Side with students from Parkland and public figures to protest the lack of action on America’s gun violence crisis, a new report from Giffords Law Center highlights how summer months bring spikes in shootings. The analysis, Shootings, Cities, and the Summer, finds an increase in gun violence during the summer months, with spikes during holiday weekends like Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.
“Instead of thinking about what fun the summer will bring, too many young Americans have to worry about whether hanging out at a park, court, or friend’s house will lead to gunshots,” said Mike McLively, Giffords Law Center’s urban gun violence initiative director. “America is failing an entire generation who have to live in fear when they should be enjoying time away from school. Our research proves that our nation’s weak gun laws continue to fuel an increase in gun violence during the warm summer months. We know the solutions that work. It’s time for the country to listen to the voices of students who are taking to the streets and do more to keep them safe.”
“Remember that the kids of Chicago don’t always get the attention, but we’re living the awful consequences when our nation fails to keep kids like me safe,” said Ke’Shon Newman, a 16-year-old Chicagoan. “We’re pretty remarkable kids in Chicago – we’re some of the most resilient, hopeful, and optimistic kids you’ll ever meet. But we deserve better.”
As Shootings, Cities, and the Summer notes, temperatures rising bring more gun violence, particularly in underserved urban areas. Over Fourth of July weekend alone last year, 102 people were shot in Chicago, a record. With school out, longer days, and oppressive heat—and easy access to guns—conflicts turn more violent more quickly, and lives end too soon.
The report also makes clear that solutions exist to reduce gun violence in our cities, in some cases, like Richmond, California, by up to 66% within seven years. Those include:
- Universal background checks make it harder for guns to be sold to prohibited people.
- Group violence intervention programs identify those most likely to commit gun violence and provide opportunities and resources to break the cycle of violence.
- Lost and stolen reporting laws discourage trafficking and straw purchasing and help law enforcement trace crime guns.
- Hospital-based violence intervention programs reduce injury recidivism rates by working directly with shooting victims.
- Summer-specific interventions reduce shootings by giving at-risk youth alternative activities in the hottest months. For example, Chicago’s One Summer program provides summer jobs to young people, while Los Angeles’s Summer Night Lights program offers free events and activities for young people in the public spaces of high-risk neighborhoods.
Background Information on Preventing Urban Gun Violence
Nowhere is the gun violence crisis more evident than in our underserved urban communities, where homicide rates often reach 10 times the national average. Young black men are especially vulnerable—the chance of a black American family losing a son to a bullet is 62% greater than losing him to a car accident. In fact, black men make up just 6% of the U.S. population, but account for 51% of all homicide victims.
Urban violence has too often been left out of the national conversation about guns, even though it makes up a huge proportion of the human toll of this epidemic. It is morally unconscionable that in the United States today we have neighborhoods with gun injury rates on par with active warzones.
The good news is change is possible—and already happening in cities across the country. Research and case studies have shown that through a combination of low-cost, community-oriented intervention programs and much-needed firearms policy reforms, gun violence rates in urban communities can be cut in half in as little as two years. The solutions exist — we just need to implement them.
Group Violence Intervention Programs
This strategy identifies the small population—sometimes just a few dozen people—responsible for the majority of gun violence in a neighborhood. Community leaders, in conjunction with police, offer both carrots and sticks to discourage group members from participating in shootings. Boston saw a 42% decrease in murders after implementing Group Violence Intervention programs.
Cure Violence Intervention Programs
Treating gun violence like a communicable disease, this strategy employs “violence interrupters” trained to understand neighborhood dynamics and mediate potentially deadly conflicts. At the same time, outreach workers connect at-risk individuals to social services. Homicides fell 31% in Chicago neighborhoods using the Cure Violence model.
Hospital-Based Intervention Programs
These interventions connect recently injured patients with culturally competent case managers who help them leave behind a violent lifestyle and avoid the retaliatory attacks that make up a significant share of urban gun violence. Using this model, San Francisco General saw injury recidivism rates fall from 16% to just 4.5% for the six years following implementation, a $500,000 savings in annual medical expenses.