Written by Sukhman Rekhi
When’s the last time you watched the news and didn’t hear about someone that was killed by gunfire? If you can’t remember, you’re not alone. That is because an average of 33,000 Americans have been fatally shot in the last three years . And if you think this is a problem, you’re still not alone.
While gun violence in America is a politically sensitive topic, and the debate over the Second Amendment of the Constitution continues, such a complex issue cannot be solved just within the criminal justice system. With gun laws varying from state to state and different opinions about the issue nationwide, finding the common ground remains difficult, which is when the public health sector comes into play. Several health officials believe that the issue of gun violence can be reduced with public health intervention using both education and prevention strategies.
In terms of education, the majority of public health administrators have argued that the federal government should be responsible for allocating specific funding for research on the tactics that aim to reduce gun violence. However, due to a bill that was passed in 1996 that bans research and funding related to gun violence, officials have been unable to cross this hurdle to make communities safer and individuals more aware about the proper usage of firearms .
An alternative to this method is to put into place educational programs in schools, workplaces, hospitals, and neighborhoods for communities to become aware of how to properly use such weaponry for self-defense purposes only. Administrators have also been using marketing and advertising strategies, which urge parents and adults to become more knowledgeable about safety techniques that will keep young children from gaining access to weapons such as guns .
In regards to prevention strategies, public health officials offer two main tactics. The first of these is to start proposing common-sense gun policies to Congress. While these officials are well aware about the debate over the constitutionality of guns, the department of public health does not aim to get rid of guns, but to put preventative programs and policies into place. Some of these policies include having thorough background checks of individuals wanting to purchase guns or increasing security levels for young adults that may be carrying such weapons in schools and college campuses .
Second, several members of the public health sector have also proposed the addition of mental health services in schools, hospitals and workplaces . While we often see news about homicides by gunfire on television, we must also take into account that much of the 33,000 individuals that are killed by gunshots also include those that took their own lives.
Gun violence is not only deeply rooted in America today; it has turned into a health epidemic and public health intervention is vital in order to implement change. While a policy or bill can always be reversed, the life of a lost one cannot be.