The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Opinion | We need to address gun violence in rural areas.

American rural areas experience a staggering amount of gun violence for having so few people. The narrative around it needs to change.
Grace Smith
The Iowa State Capitol is seen before the opening of the 2022 Legislative Session in Des Moines, Iowa, on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022. At the State Capitol, legislative leaders spoke in their chambers while rally members congregated in the rotunda in support of freedom. The 2022 Legislative Session started today and will end in April.

Gun violence, especially in rural areas, has been an overlooked issue for many years.

According to NBC News, two decades of data shows that gun violence is worse in rural areas than big cities. This issue is largely overlooked by the public and lawmakers alike.

As stated in a study in a study from the American Medical Association, “high rates of gun homicide in urban centers have been the sole focus of many policymakers and used as justification to loosen gun laws, when in fact gun violence is an issue in counties of all sizes.”

Rural gun violence needs a larger focus in the conversation around gun control, as gun violence has been a growing issue for far too long. If rural gun violence is addressed more on a larger scale, only then will it lead to possible answers on what we can do to stop it.

Because of the misconception around gun violence in rural areas, laws around guns in small towns aren’t discussed or nearly as strict. Iowa is one of these states.

“In Iowa, the rate of gun deaths increased 56 percent from 2011 to 2020, compared to a 33 percent increase nationwide,” according to Everytown for Gun Safety.

This year alone 31,761 people have died from gun violence. It was also reported by the Public News Service that from 2015 to 2020, gun sales in Iowa have gone up 83.7 percent. This is the 12th highest rate of gun sales in the nation.

Politicians are ignoring the facts and not putting enough focus on rural gun violence. Those who are pro-gun have failed to make any changes to this growing crisis because they believe that Democrat-led cities and counties have experienced more gun homicides, but this idea is not true.

In an analysis on gun homicides in rural America from the Center for American Progress, it is stated that many rural communities of Republican-led states actually have a higher or matched gun violence rate than the democratic led communities.

From 2016-20, the two highest U.S. counties to experience most gun homicides were rural, according to the center.

The center also mentions that gun ownership in rural areas is much higher than in urban areas, which leads to more gun violence.

Intimate partner homicides are much more likely to happen in communities with high gun ownership according to the Center for American Progress. “If an abusive partner has access to a firearm, they are five times more likely to kill their victim.”

Gun laws have loosened up over the years despite the rising number of deaths from guns. Especially in rural areas where laws, like the red flag laws, are ignored. Because of this, access to guns is much easier than ever before, especially for the youth.

“Children between the ages of 5 and 14 in rural areas are hospitalized for gunshot wounds at significantly higher rates than their city-dwelling peers” according to the center’s article.

Among the young people surveyed in a Public News Service poll, 40 percent said they have “somewhat easy” access to a gun, and 21 percent reported having “very easy” access.”

If we don’t want to put our children in danger, something needs to change.

Politicians and citizens have the power to change the narrative about gun violence. The facts are there, and this will only get worse if nothing is done.

Rural areas need to have stricter gun laws, but most importantly, there needs to be light shed on the gun violence crisis that is happening in rural America. Before we lose any more innocent lives to gun violence, let’s put an end to it.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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About the Contributor
Grace Smith
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.