Alcohol and drugs do not mix well with guns. Substances can put you in a state of mind where you are more willing to make poor choices, especially if that drug is alcohol. Once you are impaired the ability to make good choices leaves you and often gives you the excessive confidence (especially at high levels of intoxication) to build up the courage to do something you would never attempt if you were sober- say injure someone with a gun. Think about it: no matter how much you dislike a person, injuring someone while sober would take some time to think about. It is rarely a spur of the moment idea unless substance abuse is involved. There are consequences that come with assault, especially homicide. But under the influence of drugs and alcohol… taking out a gun and shooting is all too easy.

Once the substances diminish, the brain has a chance to clear. At that point, the poor decision has become a reality, regret sinks in. Now that the brain is functioning normally, the realization and the consequences of the action sets in. Explaining to a jury that the influence of alcohol and drugs made you carry out poor decisions may not be sufficient reason to let you off the hook, simply because you made the choice while sober to drink or take drugs and are therefore responsible for any actions that occurred while under the influence.

Alcohol intoxication can reduce cognitive functioning which affects the ability to think logically and reasonably, leading to impaired judgement and higher chances of aggressive behavior. There have been countless numbers of homicide cases due to alcohol intoxication, which leads the belief that alcohol does have a significant effect on gun violence.

What about those left behind after an act of violence? Our youth.

Children often feel lost when a parent is in jail for committing a crime or lost to senseless violence. Often feeling they have no one to turn to but alcohol or drugs themselves. Addictions develop quickly, leading to mental health issues and irrational decision making therefore often continuing the cycle of poor decision making.

One solution to counteract this issue is to provide more programs to help heal those who commit crimes and their children. Let’s reinvest in our community by helping parents change the direction of their lives. Let’s show our youth that the sky can be the limit if they choose to do so.

Children with missing parents have a harder time focusing on school and a bright future, thus turning to substance use and violence as an outlet for their anger and despair seems a viable option. We need to educate them better, give them healthy outlets and teaching them healthy coping skills, helping them to stay away from alcohol, drugs, and violence.

We may not be able to abruptly stop the tendency of substance use and gun violence. We can however cohesively work together, pass around new ideas for achieving a better tomorrow, and act on those ideas. We owe it to the next generation to be the responsible adults that we claim we are.