- More than two-thirds of gun violence is suicide, and it’s growing, to 40,000 Americans in 2018 and to the leading cause of death for teens.
- More Americans have died from gun violence than all American wars combined.
- Three-quarters of all U.S. murders in 2017 – 14,542 out of 19,510 – involved a firearm. (Pew Research)
- The 39,773 total gun deaths in 2017 were the most since at least 1968, the earliest year for which the CDC has online data. This was slightly more than the 39,595 gun deaths recorded in the prior peak year of 1993. (Pew Research)
- While 2017 saw the highest total number of gun deaths in the U.S., this statistic does not take into account the nation’s growing population. On a per capita basis, there were 12 gun deaths per 100,000 people in 2017 – the highest rate in more than two decades. (Pew Research)
- 41% of adolescents in gun-owning households report having “easy access” to the guns in their homes. (Simonetti JA, Mackelprang JL, Rowhani-Rahbar A., Zatxick D., Rivara FP, Psychiatric comorbidity suicidality, and in-home firearm access among nationally representative sample of adolescents, JAMA Psychiatry; 2015;72(2);152-159)
- In incidents of gunfire, on school grounds, 78% of shooters under age 18 obtained the gun(s) from their home or the homes of relatives or friends. (Everytown for Gun Safety)
- 22% of Americans own firearm. Only 3% own half the guns. (NPR)
- 4.6 million American children live in homes with guns that are both loaded and unlocked. (Journal of Urban Health)
- One million women have been killed by their partners and a firearm in the home increase the likelihood of a woman being killed by five times – American women are 21 times more likely to die by firearm-related homicide than other high-income countries.
While mass and school shootings represent less than two percent of all gun violence, their tragic and terrifying results cause fear and division. The Secret Service's annual Mass Attacks in Public Spaces report notes almost all of the alleged criminals in 27 mass attacks in 2018 had gone through a critical and recent life stressor. And almost all had made alarming or threatening communications directed toward or in the presence of others. In more than 75% of the cases, someone else had noticed a sign of concern. (CNN)
We know violence is a learned behavior, often starting in the home and turned to by those disconnected and in distress. Each us has a role to prevent violence. For our office and for the archdiocese, we work with a number of organizations with programs in place that address many forms of violence and continually heal wounds of those lost in the wake of violence. These organizations include our parishes and missions, Catholic Charities – Tolton Peace Center and Peace Corner, Mercy Home, Maryville Academy, Marillac St. Vincent House, St. Joseph Services, Domestic Violence Awareness Ministry, Kolbe House and interreligious and civic partners including Communities Partnering 4 Peace, Chicago CRED programs, Institute for Nonviolence Chicago, Heartland Alliance REDI program and Parenting 4 Nonviolence.
The cities of New York and Los Angeles have record low gun violence rates. As of 2017, the proven violence prevention models used in New York and Los Angeles are underway in Chicago. In Chicago, police districts where coordinated programs are in place, gun violence has been reduced by approximately 25 percent. We are changing the false narrative that there is nothing that we can do and recognize that, indeed, we each have a role to play in healing our city. The Archdiocese of Chicago is committed to building safe and peaceful communities through supporting violence prevention, police and firearm policy reforms and building the capacity of programs that support nonviolence, restorative justice and trauma informed practices. We see ways to do this through building awareness and increasing access to education, training in domestic violence, nonviolence and restorative justice, and we aim to use archdiocesan assets to address gaps in programs and services and provide moral leadership through awareness and advocacy.
The Archdiocese of Chicago supports building evidence-based and effective intervention and prevention approaches. It also collaborates broadly to break the cycles of family instability, despair, racism and poverty, and to create conditions for peace. In April 2017, the archdiocese launched a violence prevention initiative to both increase the capacity and reach of current programs that address roots of violence, and to identify and actively seek collaboration with like-purposed organizations. In particular, we look for organizations and programs that have already engaged in the hard work of tending to those traumatized and suffering from violence.
Our mission is a sustained effort to leverage the unique resources of the Church – parishes, programs, property and the pulpit – to inspire, educate, advocate and collaborate in support of the practice of nonviolence, healing, learning, data-driven safety practices and restorative justice. We increase the capacity of current violence prevention programs by leveraging the Peaceful Pathways model, through parish, civic and interfaith partnerships that engage the communities and unleash financial and human capital resources to build capacity in current successful programs.
Our ability to navigate conflict is reinforced by our partners who impart valuable skills and knowledge through curricula and resources that focus on many facets of violence prevention and healing. The work we do and the organizations with which we choose to partner are morally grounded and data driven.