Members of the National Rifle Association (NRA) will be gathering for their annual convention in Indianapolis this weekend, and Indiana legislators have heralded the event. The NRA convention is happening in a week where our neighbors in Louisville manage the grief of a mass shooting. As the frequency of these devastating mass shooting events continues to rise (147 already in 2023 as of April 12, 2023), it is unlikely that the NRA will be able to convene their convention at a time when our country is not mourning gun violence.
In spite of the heartbreaking frequency of public shootings, research shows that the majority of gun violence continues to happen interpersonally, within homes. Research released in April 2023 by the KFF (an independent source of information on research, polling, etc.) reports that ½ of all Americans have personal experiences of gun violence ranging from the loss of a loved one to gun violence (1 in 5 Americans), having been personally threatened with a gun (1 in 5 Americans), and witnessing a shooting (1 in 6 Americans).
The prevalence of interpersonal acts of gun violence aligns with the experiences of domestic violence advocates in Indiana. In ICADV’s 2021-22 domestic violence fatality report, 89% of the 72 identified DV-related fatalities were perpetrated with firearms. That is almost 40% higher than the national average. Data from law enforcement confirms that approximately 50% of survivors screened using the lethality assessment protocol report that the partner who has harmed them either has a firearm or can access one easily, and 34% indicate that threats with a gun are a regular part of the coercive control within their relationship. Ultimately, we know that a firearm in a home where there is intimate partner violence increases the likelihood that a confrontation will end with at least one and possibly multiple deaths by more than 600%.
The increasing prevalence of firearm violence is a key factor in the decline in life expectancy among Americans over the past decade, but this is a trend that we can change. Research shows that the majority of both political parties support firearm regulations that can increase public safety. As the NRA visits our state, we call on gun owners to join violence prevention advocates and the public health community in working to find solutions to the epidemic of gun violence in our country.