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Gun violence in the US: How it’s impacting the local community

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gun violence

In 2017, recorded 14,542 gun-related homicides in the United States.

In 2017, recorded 14,542 gun-related homicides in the United States.

Since then, that number has spiked to nearly 21,000 in 2021. 

Gun violence is increasing at an alarming rate in the United States in the last six years. Homicide numbers are near the top of gun-related deaths each year. 

Even in smaller communities with less gun violence than the big cities, citizens are becoming more afraid. 

Lance Reece is a Stillwater resident concerned with the uptick in gun violence. 

“I feel a little more fear,” Reece said. “It’s so hard to watch what feels like every day there’s another mass shooting. It almost feels normal. It sounds kind of messed up but that is the reality of the world we live in. I hate that it feels normal – but it does.”

Reece noted a lot of his fear stems from having children. 

"It changes your life,” Reece said. “You’re more fearful about anything when you have kids."

While there is concern about gun violence, there are people who don’t let it impact them.

Truett Fowler, a junior engineering major at Oklahoma State, doesn’t feel as worried.

“I mean it’s tough,” Fowler said. “While, yes, these things happen and it should be talked about, I don’t think it’s any type of way to live your whole life afraid. I’m just going to keep living my life and hope for the best. It’s all you can do.”

With both ends of the spectrum in the community, law enforcement wants to do the best it can to ensure public safety. Police officer Colt Chandler is at the forefront of the issue, serving as the Operations Captain at the Oklahoma State Police Department. 

Chandler recognizes the community’s concern when it comes to gun violence. 

“Regardless of your position or stature in your community, you feel like there is a fear associated with gun violence,” Chandler said. “I think it all depends on people’s experience, their upbringing, their background and their perception about the events that go on in society that help shape that fear.”

Chandler believes that it is OSUPD's job to make sure people feel safe.

“What we want people to understand is that we take the community's concerns and fears at heart and we are constantly trying to evaluate our measures to make sure they’re the most appropriate and relevant to our community,” Chandler said. 

“With the perception of gun violence by community members, we want them to be confident in our approach and in our methods of response.”

Part of serving the community is having systems in place for citizens to use when there is a threat. 

“On the OSU campus we have a great tool called the Rave Guardian app,” Chandler said. “The Rave Guardian app allows you to communicate with our dispatch terminal either anonymously or via text message or phone call.” 

“The unique thing is that behind the scenes, that app is allowing us to capture your location, if you enable it, allowing us to capture your location so that we don’t have to rely on the information you’re providing us,” he said.

Having the app in place is one of the many measures the OSUPD takes to ensure safety of the Stillwater community and public.

“We continually try to make sure that our officers are relevant in their efforts and that they’re fully prepared with equipment, resources and training to make sure that they can respond to any type of situation that’s unfolding,” Chandler said. 

“We want them to handle it to the best of their ability with professionalism, and make sure that the community trusts our ability to respond to those types of events.”

Even with the large gun-related homicide numbers, law enforcement’s safety measures are not going unnoticed by the public.

“I know several police officers and I know that they work very hard and diligently every day,” Reece said. “They have one of the toughest jobs you could possibly imagine so I – we – most definitely appreciate everything they do for us.”