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Murphy: Gun Laws Alone Won't Prevent Gun Violence

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy
Steve Helber
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut pledged to make gun laws a priority for his career.

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, known nationally as the "Sandy Hook Senator" for his leadership in gun legislation after the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, said changing federal gun laws cannot change the root causes of violence in the U.S.

Murphy said easy access to guns is uniquely American, but so is the prevalence of racism and classism.

“What tracks suicides, and homicides and accidental shootings and domestic violence crimes the closest is income. If you’re poor you’re just much more likely to be the victim of a homicide or suicide," Murphy said.

He emphasized that people with mental health issues are statistically more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. Still, Mental health is often blamed for shootings. Murphy said it is not the only factor. He said the US leads Europe in gun deaths, even though there is no evidence the United States spends less on mental health care.

“Our economic order, our history of racial violence and our easy access to weapons means that individuals who may be mentally ill then get on a pathway to violence,” Murphy said.

Murphy says African Americans are more likely to die by gun violence, while low-income white Americans are more likely to die by gun suicide. 

Murphy joined dozens of speakers for a Northwell Health forum on gun violence prevention on Thursday.

Northwell Health on Long Island opened a center in December 2019 to study gun safety as a health issue. Their research includes developing a first-of-its-kind protocol for health systems to screen patients who might be at risk of gun violence.

Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.