HomeAmericasPoliticsGun Violence A Public Health Crisis, Declares Surgeon General Vivek Murthy

Gun Violence A Public Health Crisis, Declares Surgeon General Vivek Murthy

Gun Violence A Public Health Crisis, Declares Surgeon General Vivek Murthy

Gun Violence A Public Health Crisis, Declares Surgeon General Vivek Murthy

Photo: Reuters

WASHINGTON, DC (REUTERS) – The U.S. surgeon general declared gun violence in the country a public health crisis on June 25, calling on Americans to act to prevent rising firearm-related deaths and their cascading effects, particularly on Black Americans, young Americans and other populations.

In the first-ever public health advisory on gun violence, the nation’s top public health official, General Vivek Murthy, outlined what he called devastating and far-reaching consequences to the public’s well-being and called for more research funding, better mental health access, and other steps such as secure storage to reduce harm.

“Firearm violence is an urgent public health crisis that has led to loss of life, unimaginable pain, and profound grief for far too many Americans,” he said in a statement.

Murthy said the impact of gun violence spreads far beyond the staggering number – 50,000 a year – of lives lost. It impacts millions of people who have been shot and survived it, as well as those who have witnessed gun violence, lost family members or who learn about through the news.

In 2020, gun violence became the leading cause of death among U.S. children and adolescents, the report noted. The firearm mortality rate among youths in the U.S. is 11 times higher than in France, 36 times higher than in Germany and 121 times higher than in Japan, according to the advisory.

The rate of firearm-related deaths has been steadily rising, General Vivek Murthy warned, with more than half of those in 2022 driven by suicides followed by homicides and accidental deaths.

Mass shootings, which draw outsized attention despite representing a small percentage of firearm-related deaths, have also increased in recent years. The country has seen more than 600 such incidents in each full year since 2020, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which defines a mass shooting as involving at least four victims.

In television interviews, Murthy compared his latest effort to previous public health campaigns that targeted cigarette smoking and promoted seatbelt use.

“One of my goals here is to take out of the realm of politics and into the realm of public health,” Murthy said on MSNBC.

But many of the solutions that the report recommended, such as expanding background checks and banning assault-style weapons, have little chance of becoming law, with Republican lawmakers in Congress staunchly opposed to virtually all gun limits as violations of the U.S. Constitution’s guaranteed right to bear arms.

Murthy last year issued public health advisories on the harm that social media causes to young people’s mental health and on the crisis of loneliness and isolation. Last week, he called for social media warning labels to protect adolescents.

Former congresswoman and gun shooting survivor Gabby Giffords, who founded the Giffords anti-gun violence organization after she was wounded in the head in 2011 during a mass shooting, called on policymakers and the U.S. government to heed the surgeon general’s warning.

“I have seen firsthand how shootings are a major threat to Americans’ lives and well-being, and our leaders must view the problem as the public health crisis it is,” Giffords said in a statement.

The National Rifle Association decried the advisory as an “extension of the Biden administration’s war on law-abiding gun owners.”

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  • Below is a link toan article I had written on this topic, which, I hope, you can use to your advantage. I feel passionately about the issue. 


    June 26, 2024
  • I totally agree with our Surgeon General Murthy’s views on gun violence. They are in line with the information provided by American Public Health Association (APHA) on their website, apha.org. See below their Fact Sheet.

    In the United States, gun violence is a major public health problem and a leading cause of premature death. Preventing death, disability and injury from gun violence requires a public health approach that involves data collection and surveillance, research to understand which policies and programs are effective in decreasing gun violence, initiatives to implement those measures that are shown to work and continued surveillance and evaluation.
    Burden of Gun Violence
    The burden of gun violence in the United States vastly outpaces that in comparable countries:
    ■ Of 29 high-income, high population countries, the U.S. ranks number one for firearm homicide deaths based on data from 2013 to 2019. Compared to the countries that are the next four highest, the U.S. rate is 4.5 times that of Chile, 6 times that of Israel, 6.5 times that of Canada, and 11 times that of France.1
    ■ In 2022, 48,117 individuals died as a result of gun violence and many more suffered nonfatal gun injuries.2
    Gun violence affects people of all ages and races in the U.S. but has a disproportionate impact on young adults, males and racial/
    ethnic minorities:
    ■ In 2022, Black children and teens were 20 times as likely to die by firearm homicide compared to their white counterparts.3
    Guns are a weapon of choice for homicide and suicide:
    ■ Suicides involving firearms soared in 2022, increasing from 26,320 to 27,024 total deaths, the highest annual suicide rate since 1968. Meanwhile, disparities continue to exist with Native American and Alaskan Native people having the highest gun-related suicide rate among young adults under 45.4
    ■ While most gun violence does not involve a mass shooting, in 2023 there were 656 reported mass shootings, killing 759 peo- ple and injuring another 2,685 victims.5
    Gun violence costs the U.S. $557 billion annually:6
    ■ The societal costs of firearm assault injury include long-term medical care, criminal justice system resources, lost wages, lower worker productivity, and diminished quality of life for victims and their families.

    Gun Violence is Preventable
    Gun violence is not inevitable. It can be prevented through a comprehensive public health approach that keeps families and com- munities safe.
    A public health approach to preventing gun violence recognizes that violence is contagious and can become epidemic within a so- ciety.7,8 Primary prevention involves the use of core public health activities to interrupt the transmission of violence: (1) conducting surveillance to track gun-related deaths and injuries, gain insight into the causes of gun violence and assess the impact of inter- ventions; (2) identifying risk factors associated with gun violence (e.g., poverty and depression) and resilience or protective factors that guard against gun violence (e.g., youth access to trusted adults); (3) developing, implementing and evaluating interventions to reduce risk factors and build resilience; and (4) institutionalizing successful prevention strategies.9,10
    Importantly, prevention does not require predicting who will be violent. Just as aviation safety regulations make air travel safer for everyone, commonsense measures to prevent gun violence make communities safer for everyone.
    What Can We Do?
    To enhance the nation’s public health response to gun violence, we need:
    ■ Continued Surveillance. In fiscal year 2024, Congress provided $24.5 million to the National Violent Death Reporting System to fund all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. Data from surveillance of all 50 states, Puerto Rico and D.C. will provide a more complete picture of gun violence in the United States. Congress should increase funding for NVDRS to $50 million by FY 2027.
    ■ More Research. We are extremely pleased that from FY 2020 to FY 2024, Congress has provided a total of $25 million annually to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health for gun violence prevention re- search. We must expand the collection of data and research related to gun violence and other violent crime deaths and injuries in order to better understand the causes and develop appropriate solutions. In FY 2025, Congress should increase its invest- ment in this research by providing $35 million to CDC and $25 million to NIH for research into the causes of gun violence.
    ■ Commonsense Gun Policies. APHA supports requiring criminal background checks for all firearms purchases, including those sold at gun shows and on the Internet. Currently unlicensed private firearms sellers are exempt from conducting criminal background checks on buyers at gun shows or over the Internet, giving felons, the severely mentally ill and others prohibited from owning firearms access to weapons. APHA also support reinstating the federal ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, which expired in 2004. In March 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which would expand background checks for all firearm purchases with limited exceptions. The Senate did not pass the bill before the end of the 117th Congress. The Bipartisan Background Checks Act has been reintroduced in the 118th Congress as H.R. 715, and we urge both chambers to pass this important legislation without delay.
    ■ Extreme Risk Protection Orders. ERPOs allow family members or law enforcement to petition a judge to temporarily remove a firearm from a person deemed at risk of harming themselves or others. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have laws authorizing courts to issue an ERPO. Incentivizing more states to enact ERPO laws could prevent further gun violence.

    June 27, 2024

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