The Real Reason People Don't Report Gunshots

Why Don't We Get More Reports?
Americans are more cognizant of the threat of gun violence in public spaces now more than ever. However as often as we hear news stories about acts of gun violence, many gunshots are heard yet go unreported daily. The real reason? In many cases, people don’t actually know what they heard. While police officers and other security professionals are trained to recognize the sound of gunshots, the general public can easily confuse them. This is especially true in bustling urban areas where loud, unique sounds are abundant. Fireworks, cars that backfire, and even blown transformers all trigger explosive sounds reminiscent of gunshots. This makes it easy to write actual gunshots off as something less threatening. After all, who prefers to assume the worst when it's easy to find alternative explanations for these sounds that trigger fear?

Technology Matters
As a first responder, the only way you can effectively address gun violence in your community is if you know about it when it happens. When you actually receive reports of gunshots, you always run the risk of pouring your resources into responding to false alarms simply because the caller might have mistaken the sound. The human ear will never be a particularly credible source. That’s where modern technology saves the day. Today’s gunshot detection technology ensures gunshots can’t happen in your community without you knowing about them. It surpasses the capabilities of the human ear by recognizing the unique acoustic signatures of gunshots. The threat detection data such technology collects makes it easy to identify patterns of gun violence and areas of particular concern. Additionally, technology enables first responders to save time and become more effective in crime prevention. Simply put, technology is your sidekick in efficiency and efficacy.

Distinguished Sound
Even with technology, it’s still important to know how to differentiate gunshots from other sounds. Imagine trying to decipher the sound of gunshots during a Fourth of July firework display if you weren’t a first responder. It would be quite tricky. Knowing the difference between the two is undoubtedly challenging for people with limited exposure to gunshots. It can even be challenging when you do have training. As previously suggested, you can’t count on the human ear for accuracy 100% of the time. However there are a few distinct characteristics that define these sounds. So what sets gunshots apart?

  1. A deep, prolonged echo...
    Fireworks trigger a brief sound while the sound of a gunshot has a prolonged echo.
  2. Precision
    Gunshots have a sharp, consistent sound. Firework explosions on the other hand sound disorderly in nature, and they produce mixed sounds and noise levels when exploding.
  3. High-pitched
    Fireworks produce a low-pitched booming sound while gunshots are high-pitched with a clang.

Since not all guns sound the same, it is important to remember that these are general characteristics to listen for. One thing remains certain though; gunshot detection technology can help first responders be more effective in the communities they serve. To learn more, check out our recent blog on gun violence trends and security technology in the United States.

Creating a Clearer Sky With ClearWorld

We’re on a mission to secure a safer world, and we know that combating gun violence is just one piece of the puzzle.

As a company, ACOEM is devoted to offering environmental friendly solutions that create sustainable communities for a healthier environment. That’s why we’re proud to partner with ClearWorld, a leading renewable energy systems provider. ClearWorld produces outdoor lighting systems using cutting edge solar LED technology. Their light poles are of particular note. Our Acoustic Threat Detection (ATD) technology can be integrated into ClearWorld’s poles for a comprehensive solution to protect people and the community they inhabit. These aren’t ordinary light poles, though. They come in a wide range of polished styles with technology that reduces CO2 emissions by 4,500 lbs. annually, lowers energy costs, and more. The benefits don’t stop there. One of the many benefits of ClearWorld poles is reduced light pollution, an issue affecting all of us whether we realize it or not. It may seem strange to think of light as a form of pollution, but it’s easy to see with a quick glance at the night sky.

Depending on where you live, the night sky can look quite different. If you live in a suburban or city setting, you might see few to no stars. However, you may see countless stars against a jet black backdrop in rural areas. Even then you aren’t likely getting the full picture of what the night sky could look like. The International Dark Sky Association (IDA) defines light pollution as being the inappropriate or excessive use of artificial light involving. This excess lighting clutters the night sky with a glare that reduces visibility. In fact, research published in Science Advances explains that one-third of the world cannot see the Milky Way. In the pictures below, IDA shows us an image taken of the night sky over a town experiencing a blackout next to that same shot taken during normal times. 

Light pollution harms more than just the viewing experience in the nighttime sky. IDA’s site shares a few of the harmful effects of light pollution:

  • Increased energy consumption
  • Disturbing the normal behaviors of ecosystems and wildlife when the difference between day and night is diminished due to excess light
  • Disrupted circadian rhythms in humans which leads to a myriad of negative health effects

ClearWorld’s light poles are IDA approved for their ability to reduce light pollution. If you combine our ATD technology with ClearWorld’s poles, you give your community safety in all senses, not to mention a darker sky. Afterall, who doesn’t love a starry night sky? For more information on ClearWorld’s innovations, check out our Smart City Podcast to listen to our recent conversation with ClearWorld CEO Larry Tittle. 

Solving for Safety Solutions

Gun violence trends have shown a stark increase in recent years. Between mass shootings and small-scale gun violence, everyday places have become subject to unexpected attacks. We’ve seen this in schools such as Sandy Hook, universities like Virginia Tech, entertainment venues like the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, a Walmart in El Paso, workplaces like the Virginia Beach municipal building, and more. What does this all add up to? Let’s take a look at some stats shared by Giffords and the Gun Violence Archive:

  • 38,000 Americans die from gun violence annually. This works out to 100 per day.
  • More than 1 million Americans have been victims of gun violence in the past 10 years. 
  • In 2020 alone, there have already been over 400 mass shootings and over 14,000 gun violence deaths in total (including homicide, accidents, and self-defense).

With these figures in mind, many government agencies and independent organizations are exploring ways to combat this progressively increasing trend. Police departments are especially challenged with identifying solutions, particularly since there has been a push for hands-off policing in recent times. Most of us are familiar with community programs focused on addressing gun violence concerns, but many are now looking for ways to capitalize on technology in an effort to deter gun violence. Gunshot detection technology is one such solution that has been put into practice across numerous cities today. Smart guns designed to prevent illegal firearm usage through a security lock only the authorized firearm owner can unlock are another potential solution. This works in the same way a smartphone user would unlock a cellphone using a fingerprint or passcode. However, Smart Guns are only available abroad today and require continued research and buy-in before they can move beyond the conceptual phase in the United States. On the other hand, some public establishments follow a relatively traditional approach to gun violence prevention by implementing entryway barriers. Similar to any TSA checkpoint, these barriers are manned by security guards who scan visitors with a magnetometer or other X-ray technology to detect hidden weapons. This solution is frequently found in corporate offices and government buildings, but it does require security staff to be on hand during all hours of operation. 

One thing is for certain, and it’s that technology in the security realm is constantly evolving. Security professionals are challenged with staying up-to-date and continuously optimizing their security protocols. Taking the time to ensure you’re utilizing the best tools and resources available is essential, and your community will be safer for it.