As the coronavirus pandemic rages on and people are socially distancing around the country, gun violence continues in large cities, including Cincinnati. On Wednesday, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported on the rise in gun violence in the city since the coronavirus stay-at-home order was issued.
During the first 18 days of Ohio’s stay-at-home order, 34 people have been shot in Cincinnati, nearly two a day. During the same period last year, that number was 12. As of yesterday, over 100 people have been shot in the city this year, according to Cincinnati police data. As of April 15, 34 people had been killed in the city compared to 11 during the same time last year. Nearly a third of the people were shot since the stay-at-home order was issued.
On Wednesday at the scene of a shooting, Neudigate noted that “not only are we dealing with the pandemic, but we’re dealing with probably the worst 28 days of gun violence that we’ve seen in the last four years.”
Cincinnati has already announced cuts to funding for human and social services, which are critical to implementing a holistic approach to local gun violence intervention and prevention. But, daily gun violence continues to persist in Cincinnati. Any funding interruptions for local gun violence prevention groups could deal long-term setbacks to city gun violence prevention efforts.
Ohio has over 1,400 gun deaths every year, and the totals continue to rise—increasing 54 percent in the last decade, compared to an 18 percent increase nationwide. Additionally, Black Ohioans are 3 times as likely to die by gun as white people. Much like gun violence, the coronavirus pandemic is also disproportionately affecting Black communities around the country.
Research has shown that community-based gun violence prevention and intervention programs are effective at reducing gun deaths and injuries in communities that are disproportionately impacted by gun violence. Local gun violence intervention programs use evidence-informed approaches tailored to their communities to put a stop to violence and save lives. While states and cities are making difficult decisions about how best to apply strained resources, it’s critical that community-based gun violence intervention and prevention programs continue to receive existing funding during and after the pandemic.
These programs would also benefit from relaxed funding restrictions to allow them to adapt to changing community needs, as well as procure personal protective equipment to keep employees safe as they continue their work in communities.
In addition to sustaining funding in state budgets, states should explore additional funding opportunities to bolster and expand violence intervention programs, including federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) victim assistance funds. Millions of dollars in VOCA victim assistance funds are granted to states annually, yet many states are not utilizing these funds to support survivors of gun violence, leaving millions in funding unspent each year. With the number of survivors of gun violence continuously growing, the need for funding to support them is more important than ever.
In addition to gun violence happening in cities, domestic violence hotlines across the country are seeing upticks in calls, as are suicide prevention hotlines. And with more kids and teens at home, unsecured guns are raising concerns about increases in unintentional shootings and gun suicides.
More information about daily gun violence is available here. Statistics about gun violence in Ohio are available here, and information on how Ohio’s gun laws compare to other states’ overall is available here.
If you’re interested in learning more about gun violence during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or to request an interview with a policy expert.