Public health advocates can agree that shootings are a huge health issue, considering the more than 33,000 deaths from gun violence in 2014 alone. But gun violence also indicates community-wide health issues, according to researchers.
To a packed crowd at a session at APHA’s 143rd Annual Meeting and Exposition, advocates from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and other public health fields gathered to discuss how to create a public health movement to address gun violence. The tools are already in place, but much work still needs to be done, as 11 children are killed with a gun every day in the U.S., said David Hemenway, professor of Health Policy and Director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center and APHA member.
Violence begets violence, noted epidemiologist and APHA member Gary Slutkin, MD, but communities can do their parts to mitigate violence. It will take looking at gun violence in new ways — as a public health issue, rather than a criminal justice issue, he said.
“Criminal justice reform won’t be enough,” Slutkin said. “(We need to) go harder at prevention, harder at understanding, harder at care.”
To continue reading this article from the January 2016 issue of The Nation’s Health, visit the newspaper online.