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Finding a way through the gun divide



By Amanda Eggert EBS Senior Editor

The Oct. 1 shooting in Las Vegas is the deadliest in modern U.S. history, but it’s also part of a growing trend that’s not as apt to make headlines during the increasingly short periods between incidents of that scale. According to data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive, in the U.S., four or more people are shot in one incident every nine out of 10 days on average.

And the trend is visible even in Montana, which can feel insulated from headline-making mass shootings due to its small population and rural character.

On Aug. 4, three people died and two were injured in a shooting that took place in Lodge Grass. Less than a month prior, five people died of gunshot wounds in Deer Lodge.

The availability of firearms also has profound implications for suicide rates in Montana, which has been among the top five states for suicides per capita for four decades. In 2014 it topped that list. The Montana Suicide Mortality Review Team Report compared Montana’s youth suicide rate to the United States’ and found that 63 percent of Montana youth commit suicide with firearms compared to 39 percent nationally.

“Access to lethal means (guns)” is the first item included in the report’s list of factors contributing to the “long-term, cultural issue of suicide in Montana.” According to, 57.7 percent of Montanans have a gun in their household—the third highest of any state in the U.S.

There are plenty of policy issues that create a seemingly insurmountable divide between those favoring gun rights and those who support stronger regulation, but there’s also surprising agreement on a number of gun proposals, as evidenced by a June 22 study released by the Pew Research Center.

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