The Triangle of Change

The Epidemiologic Triangle: Changing the Conversation about Gun Violence

Public health practitioners use a tool called the “Epidemiologic Triangle” to identify the causes and transmission of an epidemic, and to identify points of intervention:

How do we end gun violence?

The points of the triangle are the Environment, Host, and Agent. How can we use this concept, this vocabulary, to talk about gun violence?

Understanding the Triangle:

Take malaria for example: The Agent is a parasite. Mosquitoes are the Vector–they transmit malaria to the Host. The Host? Humans. And the Environment brings them all together.

Malaria can be addressed by changing the Environment (percolating water, mosquito dunks), cutting down on the Vector by reducing the mosquito population, and by improving the Host’s (human’s) resistance through medication.

To be effective, all must be done.

So how can we apply this to gun violence?

If we are committed to change, we must address all of these factors. Here is my simplistic first pass at it:

Agent: guns.

Semi-automatic assault weapons, are the common factor in these shootings. They are designed to kill people, not for hunting or “sport” or defending yourself against an intruder. They kill many people, quickly.  Many gun owners support getting military-style weapons off the streets.

Vector: shooters, often mentally ill or criminal… or just children who are playing with a household gun.

We need to have a robust mental health system, including support for people with mental illness and other disorders. We need to do everything we can to prevent child abuse and school bullying. We need to make sure the community has plenty of activities to engage our children.

Host: the victims

Short of issuing bullet-proof vests, I’m at a loss here. A school security guard with a hand-gun isn’t going to be able to defend a class full of children from a shooter.

Environment: a culture that makes guns easy to get.

The United States has the highest rate of per-capita gun ownership: 88.8 guns per 100 people. The next two closest countries, Serbia and Yemen, have gun ownership rates around 58 and 54 percent.

We have the 12th highest rate of gun deaths of any nation, around 9 deaths per 100,000 people. Our gun death rates far outstretch any industrialized nation, which have about 1 death per 100,000 or less. People are dying from gunshots at a rate similar to South Africa and Montegro, not European countries or Canada.

So what do we do? What are your ideas?

How do we come together to change ALL parts of this triangle?

Posted by

Part of the solution since 1973.

7 thoughts on “The Triangle of Change

    1. I welcome ideas for the solutions in this comment thread.

      I’m not going to allow it to turn into a forum for arguments or spamming.

      In other words, again, what are your ideas for the solutions???

      But, please know that I’m the kind of person who looks for data in published research not blogs or YouTube. Here is some data on Australia:

      n 1996, Australia’s Federal and state governments acted to radically reform gun laws, following a gunman killing 35 civilians at a tourist site, using two military style semi-automatic weapons. This incident was the 13th mass shooting in 15 years in which five or more victims died.3 Key components of the law reforms were effectively to ban all semi-automatic long arms and rapid-action shotguns from civilian ownership; amnesties and market-price gun buybacks in which more than 820,000 firearms were removed from the community;4 the formal repudiation of self-defence as a legally acknowledged reason to own a gun; and a requirement that all firearms be registered.

      In the 13 years and eight months since the law reforms, there have been no mass shootings. While the rate of firearm homicide was reducing by an average of 3% per year prior to the law reforms, this increased to 7.5% per year after the introduction of the new laws.

      1. Also, I too grew up in the South. My father was a gun-owner, hunter, an ex-Marine, and National Guardsman, and he taught me to shoot a rifle when I was about 8.

        He died in a practice drill. He was shot.

        I want to do reasonable things to prevent mass-shootings.

        1. Kylie,

          I did not mean to try to spam your post nor offend you in anyway. I’m also truly sorry about what happened to your father. I simply meant what I said and that is that the answer to our problem is not going to come from taking guns away but in restricting them with legislation to make it harder to obtain them and to force those who own them to be more responsible as I feel that making people responsible for themselves and their own actions is not something that is valued anymore. I also apologize in posting that video as it was a suggestion from the hubby and I only realized afterwards that it was not an independent study from which the figures were obtained and it was a gun party type video. I did however note from an Australian newspaper, The Mercury 9/11/2007 that concurred with the figures you posted. It also agreed that no mass shootings had taken place but that the homicide rate remained the same despite gun control. Anyway this is all that I had time for looking up at the moment due to the fact that blog browsing is my form of procrastinating from my approaching exams. Am interested in what solutions others suggest and when I have more time to spend researching the subject I may have something more to offer. Again my apologies as I do realize that you have put a great deal of thought into this. I was more trying to begin a conversation rather than start an argument.

          1. Thank you!!! It’s such a sensitive time, and it’s also so easy to misinterpret the written word 🙂

            Did you see my post “The Right to Bear Harms”?

            I had gone down to my legislature on Friday to ask them to ban semi-automatic weapons, the type used in mass shootings. It sounds like we agree that’s a reasonable measure. I’ve heard of countries doing buy-back programs.

            There was a legislator who actually said he didn’t want to ban them–and these are weapons that can shoot 30-50 bullets (rounds) at a time–because he uses them for “sport.”

            Talk about taking responsibility! Putting his own desire for fun above the possibility that his very gun could get stolen and used in a mass killing or other crime. Priorities!!

            Thanks for stopping by and engaging. May you and your loved ones have a safe and happy holiday season.

  1. I have such mixed feelings. Don’t get me wrong, I am not exactly a Republican but that is another topic. However, I am from the South so I grew up around guns and have seen them used responsibly 98-99% of the time.

    While I think gun control should be a little more strict, I am not against guns in general. I think the problem lies in a factor that our country seriously neglects and that is responsibility. People aren’t responsible for their own actions (oh he/she had a bad childhood, he/she is from a bad neighborhood), parents aren’t made responsible for their children (he gets bad grades because the school/teacher is bad, not because I don’t help him with his homework ) or because I can’t find/work a job (but my hair, nails and cellphone rock). I won’t even get into the “I won’t take of myself because they can always fix me later” attitude towards healthcare.

    Promoting responsibility for self and the family are essential.

    I’d also like to draw attention to the UK where cops don’t have guns but the criminals still do.

    Like I said, I have mixed feelings.

Say Anything. Anything at all.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s