Number 1 with a bullet

There's a lot of information at Violence Policy Center,

The Violence Policy Center has ranked Nevada first in the nation for the last three years in the rate of women killed by men. As is often the case, our first place ranking is not by the skin of our teeth, but rather by a yawning chasm impossible to cross unless serious changes are made.

Nevada’s top-of-the-list ranking in murders reflects an astonishing rate of 2.62 women killed per 100,000, followed by the second place finisher, South Carolina, with 1.94 per 100,000. Putting these horrific findings in perspective, the national rate is 1.22 women per 100,000.

The vast majority of these women were murdered by someone with whom they had an intimate connection—a boyfriend, spouse or ex-partner. FBI data revealed that firearms were the most common weapon used by men to murder women.

Experts tell us that 60 percent of gun-related deaths in the United States are suicides. That’s why one of the major suicide prevention strategies focuses on restricting access to guns, as many suicides are impulsive acts of desperation by people in agonizing pain.

A recent editorial in the New York Times makes the case for looking at gun violence more broadly, pointing out that it’s not the mentally ill who cause most of the gun violence and suggesting lawmakers focus on the high-risk people who have committed violent misdemeanors such as assault and battery. The editorial also cites the numerous studies linking alcohol abuse and the increased risk of gun-related homicide and suicide.

The majority of Nevadans would likely find these ideas unpalatable, given our 24-hour, alcohol-fueled gambling industry and our libertarian philosophy of “live and let live,” which translates to “I’ll keep as many guns as I like.” But if we’re serious about addressing gun-related deaths, we should broaden our focus and not just target the mentally ill, who are no more violent than the general population although they are five times as likely to be murder victims.

Sen. Justin Jones, D-Las Vegas, recently introduced Senate Bill 211, to expand the number of mentally ill people reported to Nevada’s criminal history repository and prevent them from purchasing a gun. Recognizing that 40 percent of guns are purchased at gun shows or through private parties without background checks, the bill rightly closes that loophole by requiring background checks regardless of where the gun is purchased.

The bill faces an uphill battle on several fronts. There are serious civil liberty concerns to be sorted out when defining who is mentally ill, for how long, and under what conditions. Universal background checks must be in place to make the system work, and despite strong favorable public opinion, there is likely to be fierce opposition to the concept in Nevada where the NRA threatens to target any legislator who strays.

A better solution lies in the public health model of “injury prevention,” a more comprehensive and scientific approach to the problem, addressing the key elements: human (the person involved), instrument (the gun) and the environment.

Mental health officials in Nevada are using this practical approach to implement strategies such as adding an assessment question about firearms in the home and then providing safety information and trigger locks to families of the severely mentally ill. They are holding focused community meetings on firearm safety for these family members to increase awareness of the need to keep guns secure. And they are matching mental health data with firearm crime and suicide data to determine the types of crimes that are being committed by clients of the mental health system, whether they were involuntarily committed or not.

Without question, we are all horrified by the mass shootings, but we shouldn’t ignore the individual tragedies that happen in Nevada every day. The responsibility to end gun violence lies with all of us.