CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

More than 400 Utahns have lost their lives to gun violence this year

Dec 8, 2023, 2:05 PM | Updated: 2:15 pm

People take part in the March for Our Lives rally against gun violence in Salt Lake City on Saturda...

People take part in the March for Our Lives rally against gun violence in Salt Lake City on Saturday, June 11, 2022. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A vigil held Thursday night at the Community of Grace Presbyterian Church in Sandy honored the 456 Utahns who lost their lives to gun violence in the past year. 

Nancy Halden, with the Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah, ran the vigil along with other GVPC members. Halden told KSL NewsRadio it was heartbreaking to see families who have lost loved ones. 

“When I talk to mothers who’ve lost someone, they just don’t want their children to be lost, they don’t want them to be forgotten,” she said.  

Halden said the center is dedicated to changing laws to decrease the number of people killed by guns. 

The goal isn’t to take away guns entirely, according to Halden. The center even has growing support among avid gun owners. 

“They’re [gun owners] really on the same page that we are. They’d like to see all the loopholes around background checks, close,” she said. 

Gun violence in America

It’s no secret that the issue of gun violence reaches much further than just the state of Utah. Earlier this week, three people lost their lives in a shooting on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, campus. 

Last year, President Joe Biden signed federal gun safety legislation into law, the most significant legislation passed in decades. 

Biden signs bipartisan gun safety bill into law: ‘God willing, it’s going to save a lot of lives’

However, gun violence still proves to be a troubling issue within the nation. 

According to the Gun Violence Archive, 40,264 people have died due to gun violence in 2023 thus far.

Teenagers make up 1,311 of those who died and children make up 276. The Harvard Gazette reports that gun-related incidents are the number one cause of death of children.

Across the nation, 633 mass shootings have occurred and 40 mass murders by gun. In 2022, there were 645 mass shootings and 36 mass murders, according to the Gun Violence Archive. 

Britannica said the FBI defines a mass shooting as an event in which one or more individuals “actively engage in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.” According to Britannica, the U.S. federal law defines mass murder as the killing of three or more people in a single incident at a single location. 

It’s easy to feel hopeless amongst such violence. The Sandy Hook Promise webpage has outlined a few things you can do to contribute to ending gun-related tragedies. 

Some suggestions include educating yourself on the issue, learning about your school’s policies, and engaging with your local community. 

It may be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the Sandy Hook Promise webpage encourages people to remember every active action creates an impact. 

Recent gun violence incidents in Utah:

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More than 400 Utahns have lost their lives to gun violence this year