The statistics are hard to ignore, and you may already be familiar with many of them. In 2010, guns took the lives of more than 31,000 Americans in homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings. This is the equivalent of more than 85 deaths each day and more than three deaths each hour. More than 50 percent of all suicides are committed with a firearm. Firearm injuries are the cause of death of 18 children and young adults (24 years of age and under) each day in the United States. Firearm-related deaths and injuries result in estimated medical costs of $2.3 billion each year—half of which are borne by U.S. taxpayers.
But for many of us, it took the tragedy of the mass killing of 20 first graders and six of their educators in December to open our eyes to the toll of gun violence in this country. And we are not alone. Just look at the overwhelming number of headlines, articles, and newscasts dedicated to this topic. It seems the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., has had the effect of raising society’s consciousness about the drastic costs of gun violence in this country.
But awareness of these costs is not new to many of you in philanthropy, who have made a commitment to reducing gun violence. Here are just a few examples:
The key to taking action is realizing that there is not one right answer, but many right answers. Philanthropy can help reduce gun violence by supporting:
All of these activities can make a difference. Don’t let the complexity of the problem paralyze you into non-action.
I know there are many of you working in this area and I want to hear from you. I hope you will contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your story.
This is a conversation in which we all need to participate.
Daria Teutonico is director of community foundation services at the Council on Foundations