A new advisory on the gun violence from the U.S. surgeon general was greeted by widespread applause from public health advocates, who praised its call to action.

Released June 25, the landmark advisory declared gun violence a public health crisis in the U.S., citing the devastating impact it has on youth, families and communities. In 2021 alone, more than 48,800 people in the U.S. died from firearm violence, which is the leading cause of death for children.

“We don’t have to continue down this path, and we don’t have to subject our children to the ongoing horror of firearm violence in America,” Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, said in a news release. “All Americans deserve to live their lives free from firearm violence, as well as from the fear and devastation that it brings. It will take the collective commitment of our nation to turn the tide on firearm violence.”

To address the crisis, the advisory calls for banning assault weapons, requiring safe firearm storage, implementing universal background checks, organizing community violence interventions and improving mental health support, among other actions.Statistics on firearm deaths among children and adolescents

“Preventing death, disability and injury from gun violence requires a comprehensive public health approach,” Georges Benjamin, MD, APHA’s executive director said in a statement. “This important advisory will help to educate the public about the devastating toll that gun violence takes on the health of our nation.”

What they said: A sampling of reactions

“Gun violence-related injuries and deaths continue to climb at an alarming rate, and this public health crisis requires a strategic and coordinated response. (The) announcement reinforces an urgent call to action to address this critical issue that continues to impact many communities across the country.”
— Lori Tremmel Freeman, CEO, National Association of County and City Health Officials

“This advisory puts the data regarding gun violence in America front and center — and the picture is appalling. Firearms are now the leading cause of death among our children and adolescents. And the impact of gun violence reverberates across communities, leading to collective trauma, stress and anxiety.”
— Arthur Evans, PhD, CEO, American Psychological Association

“This advisory not only sounds the alarm for all Americans, but it signals there must be greater investments in research and violence prevention solutions. Historically, we have seen how the release of surgeon general reports on public health issues such as the dangers of smoking ignited a wave of policy, legal and public health initiatives that saved coun

tless American lives and in this case led to deprogramming our nation from the tobacco industry’s lies. We hope this report will have the same resounding impact on the gun violence epidemic.”
— Joseph Sakran, MD, MPH, MPA, Board and Chief Medical Officer, Brady

“The consequences of gun violence are far-ranging and absolutely overwhelm families, communities, and systems every single day. Those in the public health community have long seen gun violence as the epidemic that it is. It’s time for the rest of America to see it that way, and today’s announcement will go a long way in raising awareness and encouraging prevention through evidence-based steps.”
— Annie Andrews, MD, pediatrician, researcher and senior advisor at Everytown for Gun Safety

“The surgeon general’s advisory reminds us that it is our responsibility to keep children safe in homes and communities across the nation. We must come together to prevent gun violence. Our kids are counting on us.”
— Matthew Cook, MBA, CEO, Children’s Hospital Association

“The Surgeon General’s Advisory on Firearm Violence elevates this crisis in our national attention and emphasizes the damage gun violence has caused to families across the United States. It affirms that people with mental illness are especially vulnerable, and includes prevention strategies that could help save lives.”
— Marketa Wills, MD, MBA, CEO and medical director, American Psychiatric Association

“Firearm violence is indeed a public health crisis in the United States, and the data now show it touches the majority of Americans. We applaud the Office of the Surgeon General for issuing this advisory and for outlining an evidence-based public health approach to addressing firearm violence.”
— Bruce Scott, MD, president, American Medical Association

“Firearm violence has been a public health crisis in the United States for many years now, and we are pleased to see that the surgeon general is addressing it in this advisory, laying out the stark statistics highlighting the scope of the problem as well as identifying some actionable solutions.”
— Patricia Turner, MD, MBA, executive director and CEO, American College of Surgeons

“In schools and youth organizations across the country, we are empowering youth and adults by giving them research-informed tools to learn and report the warning signs of gun violence to prevent tragedy before it can happen. Our results, and ongoing research, further affirm today’s advisory that a public health approach is the best path forward to ensure no more communities will suffer from the trauma inflicted by gun violence.”
— Nicole Hockley, co-founder and co-CEO, Sandy Hook Promise

“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. There are many powerful forces who downplay the threat of gun violence because the status quo benefits them financially or politically. Policymakers at every level of government have a responsibility to heed the declaration and take urgent action to protect their communities.”
— Gabby Giffords, MRP, Giffords Law Center

“As one of the largest providers of safety and support services for survivors of intimate partner violence, YWCA knows firsthand the dangers that firearms pose for women, children and families. We are grateful for the surgeon general’s attention to this critical issue.”
— Margaret Mitchell, CEO, YWCA USA