Gun violence is — sadly — a prominent part of the American narrative, and though the conversation surrounding it continues, there have yet to be any substantial changes made. It might be argued this is because people not directly touched by the violence downplay its severity (as people who subscribe to a post-racial mindset tend to do with racism), but a recent study in the journal Preventative Medicine argues almost every person in the United States will count a victim of gun violence among their social network within their respective lifetimes. So, among the many complicated factors that contribute to continued violence, it seems that unaffected parties can’t be included.
Using 2013 non-fatal and fatal injury data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System and estimates of the number of social relationships — a mere 291— a person is likely to form across their lifetime, researchers from the Boston University Schools of Public Health and Medicine determined the probability of Americans knowing a victim of gun violence.
Overall, each person faces a 99.85 percent likelihood within their personal network, with black people (99.9 percent) and Latinos (99.5 percent) facing a greater probability than whites (97.1 percent). And we can’t content ourselves with the hope that the gun violence will simply result in injury, either — the likelihood of knowing the victim of a fatal shooting is 84.3 percent.
The study acknowledges failing to account for the increased risk that confronts people in “small identifiable social networks of individuals engaged in criminal activity.” But, researchers argue that even accounting for the higher likelihood in those groups, those who are less-likely still face a very high probability.
If you are searching your mind for a victim in your social network and not finding one, this research indicates you should get prepared for the eventuality (which is terrifying). Ideally, this information can inform the national conversation and encourage all of us to be engaged in it, as gun violence truly affects us all.