More Guns Equal More
Violence committed with firearms is one strain of the violence pandemic. Ecological models have increasingly been used in an effort to understand the complex interplay of individual, relationship, social, cultural and environmental factors that give rise to violence. An “ecological” model identifies several levels of risk factors, which include societal, community, relationship and individual factors (see Figure 3.1).
Individual behavior, for example, is shaped by both biological and personal history. Among the strongest predictors of violence are age and gender. Most violence worldwide is perpetrated by young men (fifteen to twenty-four years old), but clearly there are other pertinent factors, including impulsivity, substance abuse, a prior history of aggression or victimization, and low educational levels. Understanding victim-aggressor relationships is consequently critically important to addressing violence. In many forms of violence, the same groups at risk for perpetrating violence are at risk for being victimized.
Relationships with peers, intimate partners and family members also play an important role, particularly when it comes to youth and gang violence, intimate partner violence, child abuse and suicide. In many forms of violence, victim and aggressor are bound in a relationship. In peaceful, industrialized countries such as Canada, for example, 85 percent of homicide victims know their killer, and 85 percent of women murdered are killed by their intimate partners.1 Similarly, in these contexts children are more likely to be abused or killed by family members than by strangers.
Social relationships in communities are also important. In many cities, for example, particular neighborhoods or segments of the population are disproportionately affected by violence. Socioeconomic disparity, political