Protestors call for end to gun violence.
Protestors call for end to gun violence.

SIU researchers tackle gun violence for a safer community

Tammy Kochel, associate dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences at SIU, is leading a team of researchers in identifying the causes and patterns of gun violence in Carbondale. Sparked by a nationwide spate in gun violence, SIU researchers and Carbondale city officials are looking to research solutions and remedies to gun violence. The research is backed by the Carbondale City Council, as the City Council has provided $64,000 for the study. This money has been used to gather information from surveys, interviews, small group meetings, and official data sources in Carbondale. All of the data collected will be synthesized and distributed to key officials in attempts to better prevent gun violence and ensure public safety. Public safety and public relations are essential to the success of the university and a safer campus and community will create a positive university reputation.

Researchers and students began collecting data from first responders to gain an understanding of geographic patterns and environmental factors that might contribute to the frequency of gun violence. Despite gun violence being a national issue, city leaders want to tailor solutions on a local level and promote public health in Carbondale specifically.

“We hope our report describes the specific nature of gun violence in Carbondale and the types of evidence-based and promising solutions that have worked for similar gun violence problems,” Kochel said. “We hope it will be used to guide service providers and to make funding decisions.”

SIU researchers are collecting data from more than just first responders. They are collecting data from the Memorial Hospital of Carbondale emergency room discharge information on both fatal and nonfatal firearm cases as well as conduct geographic and temporal analysis of Jackson County Department of Public Health Emergency Medical Services calls for service data for firearm injuries. Having more outlets of data gathering will allow researchers to understand the relationships between gun assaults, gun homicides, and anonymous arrest data. If researchers can accurately identify the problems, the solutions will be much more effective and gun violence as a whole will be better deterred in Carbondale.

This study will provide Carbondale city officials and first responders the information needed to better prevent gun violence and ensure public safety. Using data-driven solutions to deter gun violence is a monumental challenge, but necessary when trying to enhance public safety. As the research carries on, our understanding of the problems and how to solve them becomes clearer and more effective.

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