Deadly firearm assaults in Salt Lake County are rising
Fatal firearm assaults in Salt Lake County have steadily climbed since 2016, figures from the Utah Department of Health show.
- Between 2016 and 2020, incidents in the state's most populated county increased by about 41%.
Driving the news: A recent string of mass shootings in California, Oklahoma, and Texas, which left 19 children and two teachers dead at an elementary school, has reignited scrutiny of the prominence of gun violence in local communities.
- Over the weekend, the U.S. saw seven mass shootings which killed 11 people and injured 54, Axios' Ivana Saric reported.
In Salt Lake City's Glendale neighborhood, a shooting at an apartment complex on Monday left one dead and three injured. The case is being investigated as an attempted robbery.
- During a news conference Tuesday, Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown attributed the rise of gun violence to "the prolific amount of guns on our streets in the hands of criminals and those who shouldn’t have them that are willing to pull the trigger."
In response to the U.S. shootings, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, the Salt Lake City Police Department and the Salt Lake City Police Foundation will host a new gun buy-back program this Saturday.
What they're saying: "Buy-back programs have been very successful in other areas of the country recently and are a tremendous option for gun owners interested in safely disposing of their unwanted firearms. This program is an incentive that will help us take guns out of circulation,” Mendenhall said in a statement.
- The Saturday event will be held from 11am to 3pm at the Public Safety Building, located at 475 South 300 East.
- Individuals who turn in their firearms will receive a $50 gift card. Assault-style weapons can be exchanged for a $100 gift card.
- It will be open to the public. No questions will be asked and no IDs will be required.
Zoom out: Between 2009–2018, the rate of firearm deaths in Utah, which includes suicides and homicides, has outpaced the national rate, according to a separate statewide gun violence report released last year.
- In 2017, there were nearly 12 gun deaths per 100,000 residents in the U.S. compared to Utah's rate of 14 gun deaths per 100,000 residents.
By the numbers: In 2020, about 84% of gun-related deaths in Utah were the result of suicide, while 11% were homicides, the report found.
- About two-thirds of gun-related deaths involved a handgun as opposed to other firearms.
- Nearly 85% of victims were men.
- Since 2005, Utah has had a "higher prevalence" of high school students reporting that they carried a gun at least one day in the last month compared to the rest of the nation.
What's next: State Sen. Derek Kitchen (D-Salt Lake City) said he will introduce legislation to raise the legal age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21.
- "If we don't act now this will happen again, and again," Kitchen said in a news release. "This bill is the least we can do to keep our communities safe."
Yes, but: It will be an uphill battle convincing the Republican-controlled state Legislature to pass a gun control measure raising the legal age to carry.
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