U.S. Surgeon general declares gun violence crisis

The U.S. Surgeon General has declared firearm violence a public health crisis, warning of its severe impact on both physical and mental health across the nation, and calling for increased federal investment in firearm violence research and community-based intervention programs. The post U.S. Surgeon general declares gun violence crisis appeared first on The Cincinnati Herald .

U.S. Surgeon general declares gun violence crisis

The U.S. Surgeon General has declared firearm violence a public health crisis, warning of its severe impact on both physical and mental health across the nation.

In a landmark advisory issued Tuesday, June 25, Dr. Vivek Murthy emphasized that gun violence poses a “serious threat to the health and well-being of our country.” This is the first time the government’s leading public health body has focused directly on gun violence.

“As a doctor, I’ve seen the consequences of firearm violence up close in the lives of the patients I’ve cared for over the years,” Murthy stated in a video message. “These are moms and dads, sons and daughters, all of whom were robbed of their physical and mental health by senseless acts of violence.”

The advisory highlights alarming statistics, revealing that firearm-related deaths in 2021 reached a near three-decade high due to increases in both gun homicides and suicides. In 2022, 48,204 people died from firearm-related injuries, with suicides accounting for 56.1% and homicides accounting for about 40% of these deaths.

“The problem has continued to grow,” Murthy noted, referencing data showing that 54% of U.S. adults have experienced a firearm-related incident. He also pointed out the disproportionate impact on specific communities, stating, “Black individuals endure the highest rates of firearm homicides, while suicide rates are highest among veterans, older white individuals, and younger American Indian and Alaska Native people.”

Murthy also highlighted the tragic impact of gun violence on children. Since 2020, it has been the leading cause of death among children and adolescents, surpassing car accidents, drug overdoses, and cancer.

“I have sat with parents who have lost a child to firearm violence,” Murthy shared. “As a father, I know a parent’s worst nightmare is to lose a child, to feel like you can’t protect your child from harm.”

Comparative data from 2015 revealed that the rate of firearm-related deaths in the United States was 11.4 times higher than in 28 other high-income nations, according to the CDC and WHO. The mental and emotional toll of gun violence is also significant, with the report noting increased rates of depression and psychiatric disorders among families and communities affected by shootings.

The advisory proposes a public health approach to tackle gun violence, akin to strategies used to address cigarette smoking and reduce motor vehicle deaths. It calls for increased federal investment in firearm violence research, community-based intervention and education programs, and encouraging health systems to discuss safe firearm storage with patients.

Policy recommendations include:

  • Enacting safe storage laws.
  • Implementing universal background checks.
  • Prohibiting assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.
  • Improving mental health care.
  • Enforcing effective firearm removal policies under extreme risk protection and domestic violence protection orders.

While some states have adopted these measures, federal legislation has faced significant opposition. Data from the Giffords Law Center indicates that “states with strong gun laws have fewer gun deaths.”

“A public health approach can guide our strategy and actions,” the advisory concluded. “The safety and well-being of our children and future generations are at stake.”

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