Due to the rise in gun violence and the increase in gun purchases during this pandemic we asked Ohio leaders to address the public health crisis of gun violence.
Governor DeWine, Lt. Governor Husted and Dr. Amy Acton, Director Ohio Department of Health
Thank you all for your leadership during this public health crisis. You have been fine examples for Ohio and to the country of how leaders put the health and safety of the citizens as their primary efforts and concern.
We are writing to ask you to also take public safety measures that address the risks posed by firearms in our homes during our confinement, especially in light of the dramatic spikes in firearm and ammunition sales.1
Multiple studies have found that firearms in the home significantly increase the risk of suicides,2 domestic violence,3 and unintentional shootings.4 One study found that more than 80% of all child firearm suicides involved a gun belonging to their family member.5 Research shows that domestic violence is five times more likely to escalate to murder when there is a gun in the home. Researchers have found that an accessible gun in the home more than triples the risk of suicide,6 with men six times more likely to die by firearm suicide than women.7
2 Anglemyer A, Horvath T, Rutherford G (2014). The accessibility of firearms and risk for suicide and homicide victimization among household members: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine. 160: 101-110.
3 Campbell JC, et al. (2003). Risk factors for femicide in abusive relationships: Results from a multisite case control study. American Journal of Public Health. 1089-097.
4 Miller M, Azrael D, & Hemenway D (2001). Firearm availability and unintentional firearm deaths. Accident Analysis and Prevention. 33: 477-84.
5 Johnson RM, Barber C, Azrael D, Clark DE, & Hemenway D (2010). Who are the owners of firearms used in adolescent suicides? Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior. 40: 609-611. Study defined children as under 18.
6 Anglemyer A, Horvath T, Rutherford G (2014). The accessibility of firearms and risk for suicide and homicide victimization among household members: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine. 160: 101-110.
7 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) Fatal Injury Reports. Developed using five years of most recent available data: 2014 to 2018.
Studies show that the widespread use of firearms for protecting against criminals is a myth. Based on data from the National Crime Victimization Study, fewer than 1 percent of crime victims use a gun for self-defense. More important, using a gun for self-defense is no more effective than other measures, such as calling 9-1-1 for help.
Therefore, we are asking that you use your emergency powers to:
1. Publicly educate our citizens about the risks posed by surging gun sales and the panic-buying of firearms and ammunition at your COVID-19 press conferences.
2. Suspend default proceeds that allow gun dealers to complete a sale if the background check isn’t completed within three days.
3. Temporarily close gun stores, which must be deemed “non-essential” during this crisis.
4. Prohibit the sale and purchase of “ghost gun” parts and kits in order to lower the risk of exponential sales of unregulated and unserialized gun parts.
5. Classify community-based counselors, social workers, and other anti-violence workers as “essential” in light of extreme economic and social impact on urban neighborhoods which significantly and disproportionately affect black and brown communities.
During a national crisis, governments have a responsibility to do everything in their power to keep their citizens healthy and safe. You have done that and these actions will demonstrate that even as extraordinary measures must be taken to protect the public from COVID-19, public safety also demands that measures be taken to prevent gun violence, a pre-existing public health crisis that will only be exacerbated by the pandemic if the above measures are not put in place.
We hope you will take urgent and necessary actions to forestall a potential spike in gun deaths and injuries, including firearm suicides, unintentional shootings, and domestic violence, during this unprecedented and stressful time.
Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence Board of Directors