For the last five years, the victims of gun violence in the US have increasingly been young adults and children, a new study reveals.
Each year since 2009, 3.8 percent more children and babies under 14 have been killed by guns each year.
And for people between ages 15 and 44, deaths have surged by over 10 percent each year since 2014, according to the new Boston University study.
Study author Dr Bindu Kalesan says that her work and that of others shows even further differences between various groups and communities that suggest that a broad and blunt approach to stemming gun violence may be ineffective.
Instead, she says that efforts to counteract gun violence need to be tailored to the groups they affect and address the social issues that drive them, such as poverty, mental health issues and drug use.
Since 2014, gun deaths have increased sharply among people under 45 years old, new Boston University research found. Young people are also disproportionately affected by the growing wealth gap, and the author of the new study says poverty is fueling the violence
Dr Kalesan and her team found that increases in gun violence really began in earnest after 2014.
Between 1999 and then, death rates held steady.
But between 2014 and 2016, firearm mortality surged by 7.2 percent each year.
The increase during that period was even more dramatic among certain groups, including those between ages 15 and 44 and black Americans, among whom firearm deaths increased by a staggering 12.6 percent a year.
Meanwhile, the majority of overall gun deaths are actually suicides but these are driven by white males in the US.
It’s homicides and non-fatal gunshots that concern Dr Kalesan.
And for those, ‘we have got to understand what the factors are that started this climb where more young people were starting to get affected,’ she told DailyMail.com.
The predominant factor that she suspects drives this pattern is money.
‘It’s the widening of the economic gap that leads to increasing poverty among the younger folks [that’s] translating into violence,’ Dr Kalesan said.
She believes that these changes among sub-groups are missed by attempts at legislative gun reform.
‘If it’s all about gun laws, we can’t legislate ourselves out of the problem or shoot ourselves out of it,’ said Dr Kalesan.
‘We’re advancing all these tiny laws that really have no effect…[they’re like] trying to patch up the windows and the attic windows – but the main door and the back door are open.’
But US lawmakers can’t seem to agree upon more significant gun legislation.
‘The truth is, even though it’s painful, we’re not being successful and we have to re-strategize,’ says Dr Kalesan.
‘We are at a place now where we need to go local. Even within one state you can see such wide variation.’
She points to Roxbury, an historically rough Boston neighborhood, as a case.
‘In Roxbury, is there one day where there’s no shooting? No,every day there’s at least one,’ Dr Kalesan says.
‘Imagine living in Roxbury as a fiver year old child and there are shots fired every day.
‘That’s very different from the moms who are living in the suburbs but fighting for gun laws. Don’t prescribe things to people that don’t have enough money to do them.’
She says that community programs intended to fight violence often end up funneling money into dead-ends or over-funding some of the less useful programs while leaving others unsupported in terms of both staffing and finances.
And as the wealth gap has increased in the US, younger families have felt it disproportionately. According to
‘When we look a the whole picture, we see that gun violence is part of the “diseases of despair,”‘ alongside suicide, drug overdoses and alcoholism, said Dr Kalesan.
‘[When we saw that] we had a vector, and violence is one of the first things that happens when a community becomes impoverished.
‘Future interventions, programs and policies should be created to address this shifting burden locally and should bear in mind the populations that are being most affected by shifts in firearm death.’