Gun Deaths at Record High

Gun deaths are at a record high. Nearly 40,000 people in the United States died by guns last year, 10,000 more than a decade ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Los Angeles County has seen a similar rise after many years of declines in gun deaths.

“The statistics are clear on this — as gun laws go, so goes gun violence,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore said.

Despite the strictest gun laws in the nation, California and LA County are not immune from violence and deaths.

The I-Team found after nearly 800 gun deaths in 2010 followed by a decline and then an uptick a few years ago, according to data provided by the LA County Department of Public Health.

In 2016, 792 people were killed by gunfire. The majority of the deaths over the six year span were men and 26 percent were African-American people. That group only accounts for just about 9 percent of the county’s population.

“The people who are most vulnerable, those communities they get hit the hardest,” Patti Giggans, the executive director for Peace Over Violence.

Advocates, police and others say gun violence is a public health issue, that starts with countering hate and stereotypes.

“Can we back off that ledge, that ledge of intolerance that we are on as a country?” Giggans added. A great focus is on mental health.

“Individuals that are suffering from various types of mental illness and their easy access to weapons can result in substantial violence not only in mass shootings but in individual attacks,” Moore said.

Moore says even a misplaced social media post can set someone off, so it is critical to learn how to deal with various situations early on in life.

“It’s important to develop values, behaviors, you know, basic relationships to the different elements of our environment,” said Dr. Jonathan Sherin, Director of the LA County Department of Mental Health.

The county says having opportunities for a better education, a living wage job and access to healthy food — so called “upstream factors” — could help make crime scenes a thing of the past.

“We can’t jail our way out of this violence,” Giggans said.

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