Giving Compass' Take:
- Heather Close reports that two decades of data show higher gun rates of gun deaths in rural areas than in urban areas, with the gap growing.
- Close reports that gun suicide deaths are a primary driver of the gap. What role can you play in addressing gun violence, particularly self-inflicted gun wounds, in rural communities?
- Learn how funders are addressing gun violence.
What is Giving Compass?
We connect donors to learning resources and ways to support community-led solutions. Learn more about us.
It's perhaps an unexpected truth: If you're an urban dweller, you are less likely to die from a gun-inflicted wound than someone living in small-town America. "Gun death rates are consistently higher in rural areas than in big cities, two decades of data show," report Aria Bendix and Joe Murphy of NBC News. "From 2011 to 2020, the most rural counties in the U.S. had a 37% higher rate of gun deaths per capita than the most urban counties, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Surgery. That's up from a 25% difference from 2000 to 2010. . . . Findings are based on an analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The authors attributed the trend to a rise in gun suicides, which outnumbered gun homicides in 2021 by more than 5,300 and are more likely to occur in rural counties."
Paul Reeping, who conducted the research at Columbia University, told NBC, "Rural areas are sort of ignored when we pass firearm laws because people think that it's just a city problem, while it's not. Suicides were always the highest in rural areas. That hasn't changed. It's just that the gun deaths overall have gone up, including firearm suicides, in those areas." NBC reports, "From 2011 to 2020, the most rural counties had a 46% lower rate of gun homicide deaths than the most urban counties but a 76% higher rate of gun suicide deaths, according to Reeping's analysis."
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a hotline for individuals in crisis or for those looking to help someone else. To speak with a certified listener, call 1-800-273-8255.
Read the full article about rural gun deaths by Heather Close at The Rural Blog.