Firearm Violence Prevention

A critical public health issue.

ending an epidemic

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 33,000 people are killed and another 60,000 are injured every year in incidents involving firearms. Firearm violence is increasingly recognized as a public health issue, with groups like the American Public Health Association working to convene partners to focus on prevention, targeting individuals at highest risk, and promoting multi-disciplinary approaches.

Why it matters:

The statistics in the U.S. are stark – every day, 100 Americans are killed with firearms. Women in the U.S. are 21 times more likely to be killed with a gun than women in other countries, and in an average month, 52 women are shot to death by their partners and many more are injured. Closer to home, the numbers are just as bleak. In 2014, Missouri’s homicide rate was ninth highest, and in 2017 it ranked fifth highest in firearm deaths per capita. Homicide is the leading cause of death among African Americans in St. Louis aged 15-44.

How we’re changing things:

Realizing there was a lack of consistent, reliable information on firearm violence across the state and that the field needed more development and coordination, we set out to test different community-based approaches to address this epidemic. After cultivating a few promising projects with our community partners, we publicly kicked off our firearm violence prevention efforts in 2018.

Through a variety of partnerships, we are playing a role in connecting communities to critical resources and elevating information about the impacts of gun violence. We have been a partner of the St. Louis Violence Prevention Commission since its inception and have supported their work since 2019. In 2021, we contracted with Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence to develop recommendations and a report for the city of St. Louis to help them prioritize the most effective solutions. Several of these recommendations are being carried out, including the establishment of the St. Louis City Office of Violence Prevention. Previous investments in the region include Life Outside of Violence, a regional hospital-based violence intervention program.

Working to fill the gaps in knowledge about gun violence and what could be done to prevent it, in 2020 we partnered with the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research to conduct Missouri-specific research regarding different aspects of gun violence throughout our region.

In 2020, we began a collaboration with the Kansas City Star to support their Missouri Gun Violence Project. This two-year effort helped illuminate the topic in in-depth ways that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. Through this work, the paper investigated firearm violence in all its forms (including intimate partner violence, homicides, and suicides).

Opening up a conversation and finding common ground on a topic like firearm violence can be difficult. We’ve partnered with the FrameWorks Institute to develop a research-based guide for how to talk about and reframe this discussion and foster real dialogue across the political spectrum. Interested in learning more or viewing the document? Reach out to Jessi LaRose, Senior Strategist – Initiatives.

Firearm suicide is another aspect of this issue that we are working to address. Learn more here.