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How to Overcome Distress after Gun Violence

What is Gun Violence?

Gun violence has become a complex problem in recent days. Gun Violence is any violent act committed using a gun through unlawful act intentionally or accidentally to either cause death or harm.

Causes of Gun Violence

According to the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (EFSGV), the root cause of Gun Violence are social and economic inequalities. This include

  • Income inequality
  • Poverty
  • Underfunded public housing
  • Under-resourced public services
  • Underperforming schools
  • Lack of opportunity and perceptions of hopelessness
  • Easy access to firearms by high-risk people

Guns have been a part of American life since way back. They were available even in the colonial era and are affordable. Homicide is in the increase and Americans are murdered with guns at a rate of 32 for the reason that guns fall in the wrong hands. Statistics show that gun violence accounts for 70% of all homicides. In 2010, there were 14,748 homicide cases that include murder and non-negligent manslaughter in the United States.


Psychology can make contributions in the prevention of gun violence by identifying gaps in knowledge on how to reduce gun violence whether by homicide, suicide, or mass shooting. We have risk factors that make a person more likely to use a firearm, however, we cannot predict who will use a firearm in a violent act. Therefore, gun violence is associated with sociocultural risk factors, individual, peer, or community that an individual interacts with during childhood and adolescence.


Mass shootings and everyday shootings claim the lives of 33 Americans each day. To prevent gun violence, there is a need to perform better background checks, ensure the guns are kept out of criminals’ hands and promote better coordination and better law enforcement. An instant background check should be conducted before a person is permitted to own a gun.  The prevention effort should be guided by research on developmental risk. The aim should be to reduce occasions where severe mentally ill people contribute to homicide or where depression and mental illness contribute to suicide. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) should research gun violence as a public health issue. Furthermore, support local violence prevention and establish intervention programs. Firearms must be prohibited for high-risk groups and policies enacted for licensing of handguns purchasers and retail sellers.

How to mitigate gun violence distress

Gun violence can lead to lasting emotional scars. It can cause negative short and long-term psychological effects and the experiences can result in anger, withdrawal, posttraumatic stress, as well as desensitization to violence. The effects can later lead to a continual cycle of violence, therefore, mental health workers should help people overcome the effects of gun-related trauma. Victims of gun violence should seek treatment to heal both physical and emotional wounds. Gun violence interventions have successfully treated violent-exposed and victimized individuals therefore the need to make the programs available. The majority of people exposed to gun violence do not seek support services posing a risk on mental health, it is important to work together as a community to help prevent and minimize gun violence and victims should seek support services to limit long-term emotional scars.

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