Is Gun Violence a Public Health Issue?
reported on Newswise, the
following is a statement by Jo Ivey Boufford, MD, president of The New York
Academy of Medicine, one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious medical
academies, on the seriousness of gun violence as a major public health issue.
The statement is in response to deadly incidents of gun violence in Newtown,
CT, Webster, NY, and the shooting of 15 individuals, three of whom died, during
separate acts of gun violence in Chicago, IL on New Year's Day.
"As a nation, we can only improve the health of the
public when we get our priorities straight. Recent acts of gun violence in
Chicago, Webster, NY, and Newtown, CT cannot be ignored. Neither can the 31,000
Americans who die each year at the hands of a gun. This number exceeds the
number of babies who die each year during their first year of life (25,000) or
people who die from AIDS (9,500) or illicit drugs (17,000).
institute protective measures enforcing speed limits and requiring the use of
safety belts; we implement public health measures such as child vaccinations
and regulations around the safety of food, drugs, and products. Yet guns escape
this type of regulation despite their significant contribution to the mortality
rate each year. We must view gun violence as a serious threat to the public's
health if we want to reduce the number of deaths associated with guns.
can start by banning the sale of assault rifles, high-capacity magazines, and
other facilitators of mass murder. And we must allow government agencies like
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to fully exercise their duties
in both surveillance of the incidence and impact of gun violence, and in
educating the public on steps for preventing death and injury through the use
evidence is clear, and we must now take action to protect our neighbors and
ourselves from this devastating public health crisis."
the American Nurses Association and the American College of Emergency
Physicians, two prominent and national healthcare organizations, issued calls
for a ban on the sale of assault weapons.
publication ADVANCE for Nurse Practitioners & Physician Assistants
asked its readers, "Do you think it is the responsibility of healthcare provider
organizations to urge this type of action?"
some readers had to say:
- "We can
all do our part. As nurses, as humans." - Teanne
stand in a trauma unit for one night and come back and give me your
answer." - Melissa
Absolutely! It's everyone's responsibility to speak up for what they
believe!" - Kelli
not. I have stood in the trauma unit for 15 years and taking away my legal
guns, which I carry concealed because I am licensed to do so, and taking
away my rifles, which I enjoy shooting responsibly, will do nothing to
stop the common street thug with an illegal weapon, other than allow me no
protection for myself and my property when I'm leaving the trauma unit at
midnight, sitting at a red light, and getting jacked by said thug." -
of our ER staff is armed; we see what's out there. As the Boy Scouts say,
be prepared. The bad guys will always find guns; we need to be able to
defend ourselves." - Diana
Some individuals have no
business having weapons. Period." - Teresa
is definitely not the responsibility of healthcare provider organizations.
This is a civil liberty. I'm sure many members of the groups do not
support a ban. These groups should focus on healthcare issues." -
mental illness awareness and research would be a wiser choice! Let's be
honest, what health professional has not taken some form of weapon to work
with them?" - Susan
you agree with Boufford's statement and the calls for action by the American
Nurses Association and the American College of Emergency Physicians? Weigh in
on the comments below.
Editor's note: We welcome your comments and
topic suggestions; contact blog author Kelly Wolfgang at