Rena Zito interviewed for FOX8 report on increase in gun violence

Zito, an associate professor of sociology, discussed the complexity involved in trying to determine what contributes to the rise and fall of violence.

A recent report by FOX8 WGHP focused on an increase in gun violence includes insights from Associate Professor of Sociology Rena Zito.

Rena Zito, associate professor of sociology

The segment was prompted by recently released data from the FBI that showed homicides and aggravated assaults rose in 2020 after years of decline. Zito told reporter Bob Buckley that while some elected officials like to point to specific programs as impacting these numbers, it’s more complex than that. Zito shared that the historic decline in crime was the result of a multitude of factors.

“A lot of things happened, simultaneously, and no one knows exactly what drove that decline. It was most likely 10 or 20 factors happening, simultaneously,” Zito said. “One factor explains about 10 percent of the variation, another about 5% of the variation. Some of it has to do with factors having to do with law enforcement or incarceration. But other factors have to do with the economy. It’s all over the place.”

The pandemic has had an impact in that it caused many people, particularly young people, to feel disconnected from work and school, at the same time emotions were running high given the uncertainty of what lay ahead in the future, Zito said. When coupled with easy access to firearms, you have a recipe for violence, she said.

“We should be concerned about the spike in homicide,” Zito said. “We also need to be aware that this isn’t a trend yet, but we need to address it.”

Watch the full report here.