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Editor’s Note: Violence, Trauma, Advocacy — Walking the Paths to Peace and Healing
By Marianne Mallon
Social Work Today
Vol. 20 No. 1 P. 4

One of the primary issues emerging in the 2020 Democratic campaign for the presidential nomination is, predictably, reducing gun violence. One early candidate for the nomination, Rep. Eric Swalwell, who has since dropped out of the race, made it his signature issue. Another candidate, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg has long championed the issue but carries the baggage of the violent legacy of “stop and frisk.” Many candidates on both sides of the aisle favor commonsense gun safety legislation.

But despite the talk and the strength, leadership, and advocacy of the March for Our Lives campaign of young gun violence survivors, Moms Demand Action, and others, one wonders, will it go anywhere?

One step that all legislators and others still on the fence regarding this issue should take is to educate themselves about the trail of trauma that gun violence leaves behind among surviving individuals and communities. In this issue’s cover story, Christina Reardon, MSW, LSW, spotlights the voices of social work researchers, educators, behavioral health professionals, and advocates on what happens to communities that have experienced the tragedy of gun violence.

The effects are chilling, not only on survivors but also on those who care for the victims. According to Chad Dion Lassiter, MSW, executive director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, “There are a lot of people walking around with undiagnosed and unacknowledged PTSD.”

Since this article was written, there have been more hate-fueled assaults on individuals and communities, including a notable increase in anti-Semitic attacks and in others in places of worship. In addition, the gun violence in black and brown neighborhoods that has gone underaddressed for some time as if it were something “to be expected” continues unabated.

While the focus of our cover story is the distinct nature of gun violence trauma, all violence—whether through guns, stabbings, or other horrific means—leaves an indelible mark. However, recovery through trauma-informed care by social workers and other behavioral health professionals can make a difference—as can a unified, community-driven effort to heal together and ongoing advocacy to stop the hate and violence.

May peace be with everyone in 2020 and the coming decade.