I don’t know who first said, ‘Everything is connected,’ and I don’t know if it’s true. I do know though that the subject of wellness design is connected to gun violence – or it should be, but is only tangentially discussed in that context.
There are other reasonable wellness discussions worth having on this sensitive subject and as a survivor of gun violence, I consider myself a stakeholder in advancing them. If these ideas feel insufficient to you, I get it. They’re not cure-alls. I don’t think there are any, but every bit helps, right? A wellness design approach helped me recover from my gunshot injury, and can possibly help others too, or even prevent incidents of violence.
My goal in writing this post is to support health, safety and well-being.
(Photo Courtesy: Pexels)
Safe Gun Storage Benefits
The most common wellness design discussion related to guns is safe storage. Guns that are locked up are far less likely to be used in a homicide, suicide or accidental shootings, especially if other members of the household do not know their location, according to experts.
Here are some relevant points from the American Academy for Pediatrics:
- About one third of American children live in homes with firearms, and of these households, 43% contain at least one unlocked firearm.
- Thirteen percent (13%) of households with guns contain at least one firearm that is unlocked and loaded or stored with ammunition.
- The presence of a firearm at home increases the risk of suicide even among those without a previous psychiatric diagnosis.
- Suicide attempts involving a firearm more often are fatal (91%) compared with those involving drug overdoses (23%). The increased risk of suicide is particularly striking for younger persons where guns are stored loaded and/or unlocked.
- 13 States and the District of Columbia have laws requiring that guns be stored locked.
Safe gun storage is part of the national legislation being debated by a bipartisan Senate working group, according to Politico. That’s a positive step the gun industry, gun safety advocates, public health professionals and even avid shooters can agree upon. “Responsible gun owners want to keep their firearms out of sight and locked away from thieves and curious kids,” writes Field & Stream, a respected publication for hunters.
Safe Gun Storage Resources
- Field & Stream updated its Best Gun Safes of 2022 Buyer’s Guide this month. It includes important questions to ask before buying a gun safe and suggestions for models to accommodate apartment dwellers’ needs, budget-minded gun owner needs, closet or bedside storage, and shotgun or long gun storage.
- Those wanting to keep a handgun close by for self-defense at home may want to consider a biometric safe. These typically work on fingerprint access, as some iPhones do, and don’t require fumbling at night with a key if an intruder is fast approaching. “Biometric locks add an extra level of security because they require both the right fingerprints and the right combination to open,” Field & Stream reports.
- Project ChildSafe, an industry initiative, offers free firearm Safety Kits. “The kits include a cable-style gun-locking device and a brochure(also available in Spanish) that discusses safe handling and secure storage guidelines to help deter access by unauthorized individuals,” the NSSF says.
Wellness Design Calms the Mind
I’m not a psychologist, psychiatrist or criminologist, so I’m not going to delve into the mental health diagnoses likeliest to lead to violent acts. I will note that numerous studies show links between stress, aggression and violence, and suggest that calming environments can reduce stress and potentially stress responses.
Here’s one such suggestion: “If you are feeling chronically stressed, try to incorporate nature-themed elements into your space,” writes Texas A&M’s Today publication. “Whether pictures, aquariums or greenery, elements of nature are proven to reduce stress levels.”
In addition to nature, reducing clutter can also cut stress. Conflict with other household members often occurs when one person can’t control his or her clutter, WebMD writes. Reducing clutter can help individuals feel calmer, happier and more in control, the publication adds. Just my own hunch here: Calm, happy people feeling in control of their lives, home environment and emotions probably commit fewer acts of violence.
Safety and Security are Facets of Wellness Design
Home security, especially for those who have experienced violence or combat, can reduce feelings of stress. As environmental psychologist Sally Augustin told the Washington Post, “Homes have served the same purpose since the beginning of time. We’ve always had the need for some sort of retreat or sanctuary.”
I heartily agree with this assessment. When outside events – or even our screens – throw scenes of chaos and violence our way, having an environment in which we feel safe and secure can help reduce stress and anxiety. I blogged about this after a rash of mass shootings in 2019. Since we’re reliving that summer’s sadness this season, it’s probably a post worth re-reading.
My Gun Violence Experience
This was definitely true for me in July 1992, after becoming a gunshot victim near my Los Angeles apartment. I don’t want to retell or relive all the painful details, so I’ll just say it took months of physical therapy to recover and more than a year of PTSD counseling to feel safe again.
After spending a weekend in a hospital bed, I was sent home to my charming, Spanish bungalow style apartment to recuperate. Not long afterward, the cozy flokati rug I loved burying my toes in after getting out of bed was stolen off of the clothesline in the building’s shared yard. That triggered feelings of fear and vulnerability in me that even the shooting hadn’t. It literally hit way too effing close to home!
Being in my apartment was my safe space; it still is, though Chez J is now a suburban San Diego townhouse. A trespasser coming that close to my back door and stealing something that gave me comfort compounded the pain and anxiety of being victimized in my neighborhood. I felt much calmer after a friend set up a security system for me. Despite living in a relatively safe area, (as I supposedly did in LA too), I have one here and use it nightly.
As I wrote in a second Covid anniversary article for Forbes.com in March, I believe that homes and apartments built after the pandemic should all have access to nature, whether it’s a planter on a balcony, a window box with flowers, a yard with trees, or a shared courtyard or roof garden. Give people the healing benefits of plants!
I also believe that wellness design, which encompasses safety and security, cannot be just for the well-to-do, (as so much of it is today). Everyone deserves a safe, healthy, accessible place to live and thrive.
Maybe feeling secure and calm at home will reduce incidents of gun violence. Can’t hurt! It can certainly help its victims recuperate faster and more completely.
I wrote a piece for Forbes.com this week on a new Respiratory Wellness Initiative launched by the Global Wellness Institute. In it, I covered an introduction to halotherapy, the practice of salt therapy. Check it out here.
Next week on Clubhouse!
I’ll be talking about designing with plants with a panel of experts next Wednesday, June 15, at 4 pm EST, 1 pm PST and all the related time zones. I hope you’ll join us!
- 6/15 Designing with Plants
- 7/6 Beat the Heat
- 7/20 Wellness Benefits of Co-Living
- 8/3 Creating Healthy Back to School Home Spaces
- 8/17 Creating Healthy Work from Home Spaces
- 9/7 New Smart Home Technology and Wellness Design
- 9/21 Creating Healthy Garage Spaces
Past Clubhouse Recordings
Here are links to Clubhouse recordings from past sessions.
- 6/1 Wellness Design and Pets — Recording Link
- 5/18 Wellness Design and Art — Recording Link
- 5/4 Spa Bathrooms — Recording Link
- 4/20 Wellness Design and Appliances — Recording Link
- 3/16 Healthy Bedroom Spaces — Recording Link
- 3/2 Wellness Design and Tile Trends — Recording Link
- 2/16 Wellness Design and Autism — Recording Link
- 2/2 New Technology Ideas — Recording Link
- 1/19 Healthy Pantry Spaces — Recording Link
- 1/5 Top 2022 Wellness Design Trends — Recording Link
- 6/2 Smart Homes / Healthy Homes — Recording Link
- 6/16 Home Fitness Spaces — Recording Link
- 7/7 DIY-Friendly Outdoor Wellness Design — Recording Link
- 7/21 Healthy Kid Spaces — Recording Link
- 8/4 Healthy Work from Home Spaces — Recording Link
- 8/18 Smart Home CEDIA Expo Preview — Recording Link
- 9/1 Great Grill Centers (in time for Labor Day) — Recording Link
- 9/15 Laundry and Flex Rooms — Recording Link
- 10/6 Small Appliances for Healthy Living — Recording Link
- 10/20 Healthy Beverage Centers — Recording Link
- 11/3 Healthy Holiday Entertaining at Home — Recording Link
- 11/17 Self Care Spaces — Recording Link
- 12/1 Healthy Home Holiday Gift Ideas (And Pro Shopping Tips) — Recording Link
- 12/15 Achieving Your New Year’s Resolutions with Wellness Design — Recording Link
I’m a pretty avid reader on wellness-related topics and decided to share some of the riches I’m finding with my Gold Notes readers. Here are a few links you might find interesting and helpful:
- Pet-related: Include Your Pets in Emergency Plans (American Red Cross)
- Safety-related: Falling Can Be Fatal (Next Avenue)
- Plant-related: This iPhone Feature Will Turn You Into A Plant Expert (Apartment Therapy)