Gun Deaths: What We Must Do to Protect Our People

With more than 45,000 gun deaths annually, the United States has an unusually high rate of gun deaths compared to other developed countries: 60 percent higher than Canada and 90 percent higher than the United Kingdom, according to data recently reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and published by the BBC. Even other countries with large populations, like Russia or Mexico, have rates far lower than the U.S.

We should also know that the United States has the world’s highest gun ownership rate. Forty-six percent of American households now own at least one form of firearm, according to a study by the University of Chicago. Further, there was a significant increase in gun purchasing during the pandemic. Nearly half of all Americans under age 45 purchased a gun for the first time during the pandemic, and 41 percent of gun owners purchased additional firearms.

Again, let’s compare this to other countries. The gun ownership rate in Canada is about 35 percent; in Germany, it’s closer to 20 percent; in Australia, approximately 13 percent; and only about six percent of the people in Japan have a gun.

While TAL Global does not take political stands on any issues, we should also note that many states are making it easier to purchase guns. How will this impact gun violence in this country? Possibly the answer comes from a study by the Harvard School of Public Health, which concludes that “where guns are more available, there are more homicides. More guns = more homicide.”

In such a climate, what can commercial facilities – schools, hospitals, corporate campuses, and college campuses –do to protect their staff and all building users?

We are not defenseless. There are steps we can take to protect our people and places. One of the most important first steps is to conduct a physical security assessment.

Reducing Gun Deaths with Physical Security Assessments

Aware of the growing violence trends in the U.S., the managers of a 28-story office building outside Chicago decided it was time to investigate the security measures they had in place and determine if new steps were necessary. They had a security consulting firm conduct a physical security assessment and evaluate security measures currently implemented – such as cameras, locks, fencing, and alarms – that would help deter a criminal attack.

When the security consulting firm submitted its report, among the findings were the following:

  • To enter the facility requires walking through a plaza. The vegetation is too high in the plaza, the lighting is poor, and to save energy, lights only come on when someone walks on the plaza walkways. The combination reduces public safety, opening the door for violence or an attack.
  • The security cameras used for security surveillance are analog. This older system produces grainy images, made worse by the poor lighting.
  • No emergency call systems are installed in the underground car park. Just weeks before the report was submitted, someone suffered a health emergency at night in the garage but was not discovered until the building reopened in the morning.
  • Interviews conducted with building users found that most have no idea who to call or what to do should, for instance, an intruder enter the facility. There are no instructions on communicating with building management or warning others in the facility that an intruder is present.

The managers were indeed grateful for the assessment and the follow-up report.  As typically happens, they next turned to the security consulting firm to implement the security measures recommended.

Gun Deaths: The Violence Takeaway

Violence in America is a serious problem, one that impacts every one of us. A security consulting firm cannot fix America’s problems, but it can help its clients protect and safeguard their people and facilities. Conducting a physical security assessment is a start.

Always remember we are not defenseless. There are things we can, and may we suggest, must do to protect our people.

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