The Hidden Impact of Gun Violence
The term “gun violence” conjures up images of homicide scenes or gunshot victims, in most people’s minds. All police departments record homicides and shootings as they fall under the seven ‘Part 1 crimes’ as outlined by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program. These crimes only make up a small section of actual gun violence in communities.
But how do we actually define gun violence and what is the impact on a community? Here are some good examples: When shots ring out in neighborhoods and parents rush to keep their children away from windows, this is gun violence. When shots are heard and people wonder if their loved ones were injured walking back from the bus, this is also gun violence. If bullet holes are found in a neighborhood, these incidents are often classified as “damage to property” or simply “sounds of gunshots,” if no evidence is found. A bullet that comes through the window of a house is not seen as a property crime by the residents of that house.
We know that only 1 out of every 8 gunfire incidents are actually reported to the police or 911. With gunfire incidents going unreported, what does this do to our communities?
When an individual does hear gunfire in their neighborhood and it goes unreported:
• Police are not present and community members feel the police “don’t care”
• Victims who hear gunfire but do not see police show up on scene continue to live in fear
• The shooter gets away and can come back to threaten the neighborhood again
When gunfire incidents continually go off in neighborhoods:
• Residents that experience bullet holes on their property or their neighbor’s property feel endangered
• Children and adults who continue to hear gunfire in their day-to-day activities can develop serious Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms that negatively impact their emotional and physical well-being
• When gunfire continually goes off in neighborhoods, gunfire becomes “the new normal”.
Residents living in neighborhoods with large volumes of gunfire incidents are justifiably scared, regardless of whether people are struck by those bullets. There’s a saying in law enforcement that every call an officer goes to does involve a weapon, because the officer is bringing one. Along those lines, we need to understand that every time shots are fired, that there will be people who are wounded. The injuries won’t be visible or physical perhaps, but they are there.
Our ShotSpotter gunfire detection and alert solution allows for detection of gunshots (not just gunshot victims), which gives municipalities an insight into the volume of gun crime in their communities, and the trauma that their citizens are going through. This means that cities can use this data as they do other information to deliver resources for these communities at risk. For more information on the impact of gun violence in communities, please visit our Impact of gun violence resource page: