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 every single day. The real reason? In many cases, people don’t actually know what they heard. While police officers and many 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 perpetually abundant. Fireworks, cars that backfire, and even blown transformers all trigger explosive sounds reminiscent of gunshots. It’s 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 can scare us?

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 post on gun violence trends and security technology in the United States.

Article written by Bridget Minner

by Acoem contributor | June 13, 2022
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