The annual cost of gun violence in Arizona is over $5 billion. Elected officials in the State have yet to do anything to address this growing epidemic nationwide. In 2019, the state budget for Arizona is $11.8 billion. Gun violence costs in the state are roughly half of the state budget. One would think lawmakers would address this in some way considering how much it costs. Even with such a high price tag, especially from the thousands of lives lost, lawmakers remain silent on the issue since the National Rifle Association (NRA) would likely stop bankrolling their campaigns.
“Fifty-four percent of likely Arizona voters said the current laws in the state on the sale and ownership of guns are insufficiently strict, a 6-point rise from May, while those who believe the laws are too strict dropped 2 points, to 4 percent. Of those surveyed, 46 percent said that they or someone in their household owned a gun.”
Support among Republican voters stands at 29 percent, Democratic voters 76 percent and independent voters 60 percent, a 17 point rise in the month of May. Over half (55 percent) of Arizona voters believe something needs to be done. But again, they do nothing and remain silent.
By the numbers:
- 244 gun related homicides.
- 669 gun-related suicides.
- 582 nonfatal interpersonal shootings.
- 553 accidental shootings per year.
Arizona has the 18th highest number of gun deaths per-capita among the states.
Common sense solutions are possible to reduce gun violence without limiting responsible gun ownership. My three point plan for reducing the epidemic of gun violence, and saving lives includes:
- Universal background checks for gun sales.
- Neighborhood revitalization programs.
- Evidence-based violence intervention strategies.
The funding required to implement these lifesaving solutions is small compared to the annual cost of gun violence in our state.
National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has been in place since November 1998. This does not apply to gun show purchases, better known as the “Gun Show Loophole.” Mandatory background checks on the sale and purchase of all gun sales would cost licensed gun dealers nothing since they already have access to the system.
Waiting periods for the sale and purchase of guns lead to a 7–11 percent reduction in gun suicides. Implementation of a 5-day waiting period seems practical and allows time for the background checks to complete.
Why does this matter so much?
“Nearly 71% of all gun deaths in Arizona are suicides, and more than 57% of all suicide deaths in Arizona involve firearms.”
With support from Republicans, Democrats and Independents, it is very practical to put forth legislation that requires background checks for all gun purchases.
Community organizations such as Habitat for Humanity have proven success measures that increase opportunities while reducing violence.
“In order to create change that leads to the an improved quality of life, Habitat created the Quality of Life Framework.”
Comprehensive, sustainable and ongoing funding for organizations that do this work is vital. An initial budgetary allocation of $100 million will produce results, save lives and improve the quality of life for thousands of Arizona residents.
Violence Intervention Strategies
Housing costs, low wages and lack of upward mobility all contribute to violence in communities. Building a sense of community through affordable housing, increasing the minimum wage and offering economic opportunities are steps needed to lowering violence.
Housing costs affect everyone, especially those in lower income areas. Putting in place a practical solution by requiring 15 percent of all new housing developments with 10 housing units or more offer rent at the Fair Market Rent (FMR) would lower housing displacement.
Minimum wage continues to be a political football in the State of Arizona. Elected officials need to stop playing games with this and put in place an automatic minimum wage increase tied to inflation.
Workforce development that targets low income areas by providing low interest rate loans for those who have a business plan with a high likelihood for success would offer a way for residents to pull themselves out of the poverty trap and reduce violence.
Gun violence in Arizona can be significantly reduced with practical, common sense solutions. My plan focuses on developing the future of our state, reducing violence and saving lives.
It’s time we have a state that works for everyone, protects people from gun violence and puts in place a sustainability path to support the future leaders of our state and country.
I think we all agree, it’s time for change.