Various democratic governors and lawmakers push for new gun restrictions; recent study finds parents’ feelings about exercise can relate to children’s likelihood of being overweight; New York governor declares public health emergency due to flu cases. Read these and more public health stories for Jan. 14, 2013.

The Pump Handle – Concealed handguns study takes a different approach to measuring risk
Amidst discussions of new gun control measures, a study finds that adding new settings where people can bring concealed weapons could increase the risk of some crimes.
The study authors note that while that risk is pretty small, it’s still a risk and one that policymakers should take into consideration. Published in the January issue of the American Journal of Public Health, the study examined 2001–2009 data from the Texas Department of Public Safety on criminal convictions associated with holders and nonholders of concealed handgun licenses (CHL). It found that concealed handgun license holders were much less likely than those without a license to be convicted of a crime.

Bloomberg – Gun limits sought in states in defiance of firearms lobby
Democratic governors and lawmakers in at least 10 U.S. states are seeking new restrictions on guns and ammunition after last month’s school shooting in Connecticut, challenging the firearms lobby’s political clout.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, last week called for making his state’s gun laws the toughest in the nation with restrictions that include a ban on sales of high- capacity ammunition magazines. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, also a Democrat, wants background checks on private gun sales.

Medical Xpress – Parents have big influence on kids’ physical activity, study finds
Kerry Vander Ploeg, a PhD candidate with the School of Public Health, looked into whether parents’ beliefs about and support for physical activity are associated with children’s physical activity levels. Vander Ploeg and her U of A supervisor, Paul Veugelers, Canada Research Chair in Population Health, analyzed survey data from 6,585 students and their parents through the REAL Kids Alberta project. They found that parental care, encouragement and engagement in physical activity resulted in a decrease in the number of overweight children—and the more encouragement, the better. Children whose parents encouraged them “very much” were 22 per cent less likely to be overweight than those whose parents encouraged them “quite a lot.”

CBS 12 – Possible HIV exposure at Buffalo VA hospital
The Veterans Administration has told western New York members of Congress that more than 700 patients at the Buffalo VA Medical Center may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C because of accidental reuse of insulin pens.
Authorities tell The Buffalo News that there’s a “very small risk” for the diabetic patients who may have been exposed to the reused insulin pens between October 2010 and November 2012.

Huffington Post – New York flu outbreak declared public health emergency by Cuomo
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a public health emergency on Saturday, giving pharmacists permission to administer flu vaccinations to more people as officials seek to stem the worst flu outbreak in that state in several years.
Cuomo’s order came a day after federal health officials said that fast-spreading influenza had officially reached epidemic proportions in the United States, following an early start.

Florida Today – ‘Universal’ flu vaccine could mean 1 shot a decade
Today’s flu shots aren’t perfect — but a “universal” flu vaccine that works better and is longer lasting may not be far off, say health experts. In the midst of an early flu season, health officials are urging unvaccinated people to still get a flu shot as the best step they can take to protect themselves and their families.