Preventing and Responding to Gun Violence – Where Do Social Workers Go From Here? – Opinion piece by Karen Zgoda

karen_zgodaBarely a month has passed since 20 children aged 6 and 7 were killed in their classrooms at Sandy Hook elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. It is also disturbing that for many children in the United States, such gun-related violence has long been a sad fact of life due to structural poverty, economic decline, and crime.

One of the most popular calls for action in the wake of this tragedy is for more gun control. In fact, President Obama has just released a plan to reduce gun violence.

According to a poll conducted by the New York Times and CBS, these shootings in particular have heavily swayed US public opinion towards stricter gun control laws. Other sources show similar support for gun control and the National Rifle Association has been upfront in their opposition.

Some facts on gun control:

I wish I was more optimistic that gun control would work. I believe the President’s proposals show much promise. However, I know a good many people who are proud gun owners who own them for sport and hunting and do not feel these efforts will be effective at responding to  the root causes of violence in our society and put them through what they feel are additional, unnecessary hoops. After all, making one particular weapon more difficult to possess legally will not dissuade one who is truly committed to engaging in violent murder. So, how do we proceed? How can social work influence this debate?

  1. Is violence preventable?
  2. What does realistic gun control look like?
  3. Is gun control a curtailment of civil liberties? Do we need to carry guns in a civilized society? Where do we draw the line?
  4. What can social workers recommend to deter these types of crimes?
  5. What role can communications technologies, such as social media, serve as avenues for empowerment, advocacy, connection, and dialogue?
  6. How can we help survivors heal?

Karen Zgoda (@KarenZgoda) is a PhD. candidate at Boston College Graduate School of Social Work and a member of @SWSCmedia U.S. Team.

Join us and share your views and experiences regarding these and other relevant questions @SWSCmedia today 8:00 PM EST / 5:00 PM PST.

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