Jackson County among highest for gun death rate

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The nation’s murder rate rose 30 percent between 2019 and 2020, one of the largest year-over-year increases on record, recent FBI data reveals.

Among these violent crimes, data shows that gun-related deaths made up the majority of homicides and suicides, with 51.2% of suicides across the country involving a firearm and 76.4% of homicides being firearm-related. fire arms.

But in Jackson County, Missouri, the statistics are far more alarming.

According to a new report from Background check, Jackson County ranks third for the nation’s highest firearm death rate among mid-size counties. The county has a rate of 34.6 gun-related deaths per 100,000 population, a difference of nearly 87.1% from the national gun-related death rate of 13.6.

The data used in the background check report comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention WONDER database.

“A gun is a deadly weapon, whether you are a well-meaning person or not,” said Judy Sherry, founder of Grandparents for Gun Safety, a non-profit organization focused on gun safety education and improving gun regulation. “It can kill beyond a drug deal, it can kill when your kid finds it lying on the couch.”

Missouri Gun Deaths

Between 2019 and 2020, Jackson County saw a 6.6% increase in total gun-related deaths. Nationally, the number of gun-related deaths rose 13.9%.

The report found that 57% of suicide deaths and 90.7% of homicides in Jackson County during this time period were firearm-related.

Nationally, these numbers are much lower. In the United States, 51.2% of suicides are firearm-related, a difference of nearly 11% from Jackson County. For homicides, 76.4% in the United States involve a firearm, a difference of 17% with the county.

Just across the state, the city of St. Louis ranks first among all small counties for most gun-related deaths, with a rate of 66.2 gun-related deaths per 100,000. inhabitants. Greene County, where Springfield is located, ranks 15th with a rate of 23.1.

St. Louis County ranks 5th among large counties for gun-related deaths, with a rate of 26.4.

Sherry said the increase in gun-related deaths in Kansas City is not surprising.

She said lenient gun legislation has created a hideous mix of fear and anger among Missouri residents, which she says has led to more resistance and violence than she ever could. to expect.

“We’re not here to take weapons away from anyone,” Sherry said. “Take your weapons.”

“Some people collect them, some people like to hunt, they like to shoot, it’s fine. All we ask is security measures, background checks, and that’s not asking too much.

Missouri legalized concealed carry without a license several years ago, identifying places where gun owners still need a license and authorization to carry a concealed weapon, such as schools and churches. .

“When you have an unlicensed port, you’re going to have more people with guns, so more suicide deaths and more homicides,” Sherry said.

But on Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed a bill that allows concealed weapons on public transportation and lifts the ban on places of worship, baffling gun safety advocates.

“Our laws in Missouri, all they (legislators) do is loosen them up,” Sherry said. “The House just exceeds them.”

“They did concealed carry very well in public transport, synagogues and churches. Why would anyone think this is the society we should live in? If there are more guns, of course, homicides increase. We have unemployment, so many things going so wrong and so many guns.

Sherry said the more the state loosens gun laws, the more slippery the slope to more homicides, suicides and accidental deaths.

“As far as the Second Amendment goes, it exists and it’s not going away,” she said. “So you’re trying to mitigate the damage of so many people owning guns willy-nilly, without a license.”

Gun Safety Efforts

The best way to fight gun violence is to fight back against easing the law with as many gun locks and gun safety resources as can be doled out, Sherry said.

“Educating people that a gun kills doesn’t mean you shouldn’t own one, it just means you need to understand that it kills and you need to be safe,” Sherry said.

She also said she was actively working to get Ethan’s Law passed in the House. Bill proposed to the Connecticut General Assembly in May 2019 requires gun owners to secure their firearms in gun storage or by using a security device if a minor is likely to have access to the firearm without authorization, or if another person at the place of residence cannot legally possess a firearm.

The law followed the death of Ethan Song, 15, of Guilford, Connecticut, who accidentally took his own life while playing with a gun at a friend’s house.

“We’re just trying to get a law passed – it was passed in Connecticut – that there’s a modest fine for someone if you leave a gun lying around in a house with kids 18 and under, you’re going to pay a fine,” she said.

She said that gun locks are the best way to secure a gun, thus securing someone’s life.

“We just want some accountability,” she said. “You must be responsible for your actions and when you possess a deadly object, you should be.”

Those interested in obtaining a free gun safety lock can visit a local police department or Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.

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