Gun Violence, Nebraska 2014

In 2014, the International Business Times, among other media publications, reported that Nebraska is one of the most "dangerous places in America to be Black." These reports were based on data released by the Violence Policy Center (VPC), a Washington, D.C.-based research and advocacy group that promotes gun control. According to this data, in 2011, 30 blacks were murdered in Nebraska. This black homicide rate of 34.3 per 100,000 people is double the national average of black victimization. Omaha specifically accounted for almost half of the recorded homicides for the entire state, and 90% of these murders were due to gun violence. Sadly, the year 2014 began with the death of a 5 year old girl, gunned down by a stray bullet.

Although Nebraska law requires anyone purchasing a handgun from an unlicensed, private person to first obtain a handgun certificate or a concealed handgun permit after a background check, there are a number of other laws on the books in other states that Nebraska has not adopted. Notably, Nebraska does not require firearms dealers to obtain a state license, meanwhile gun dealers represent a major source of illegally trafficked firearms. Nebraska also does not limit the number of firearms that may be purchased at one time; a quarter of all handguns recovered in relation to a crime were originally purchased as part of a multiple sale. Remarkably, Nebraska does not have regulations to ensure that handguns are properly constructed, even though it has been shown that poorly constructed firearms play a significant role in unintentional shootings and are disproportionately related to criminal misuse among juveniles.

In order to display the atrocities of gun violence, this soundscape represents the 21 individuals killed by gun violence in Nebraska in 2014. Musical pitch and pulsing patterns (sine waves mapped onto volume properties) were calculated based on the victims' life expectancies, given age and gender. The soundscape progresses in time through the tail end of 2013 (the first 15 seconds of the soundscape) and the entirety of 2014 (the remainder of the soundscape). The pitches corresponding with each of the victims cease at the point in the soundscape that represents their dates of victimization. The soundscape thus ends in silence, with there being no survivors.

Sound engineering by Jeff Koster