To learn more about how we can begin to address the problem of gun violence in New York and nationally, please join our partner Greater NYC For Change at an event on Wednesday February 9th at 7:00 PM, cosponsored by the American Friends Service Committee and New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, at 15 Rutherford Place (Union Square), New York, NY.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Time to reform gun policy; gun violence is a public health issue
As the tragic event in Tucson reminded everyone a few weeks ago, our nation’s love of firearms can have severe consequences. Unfortunately, those of us who practice in urban neighborhoods plagued by violence are frequently reminded of the impact guns have on our patients’ lives. Emergency room physicians see the victims themselves. As a primary care physician, I see the secondary victims: friends and family members of those who are injured or killed by guns. The mothers of those affected come in heartbroken, either because their children were killed or have gone to jail on gun-related offenses. Their siblings are bereaved and confused, sometimes wanting to get into the game themselves for revenge, other times feeling anxious and afraid to leave the house. Those who are killed or sent to prison leave behind yet another set of victims, their children, whose caregivers have limited support to raise them, often leaving them one step behind their peers.
Although the absolute number of deaths from guns is relatively low in comparison with heart disease or cancer, violence is a public health issue, and we need to address it as such. Among 15-24 year-olds, homicide and suicide are the 2nd and 3rd leading causes of death. The majority of these deaths are gun-related. Black men are disproportionately affected; the homicide rate for black men is 6 times that of white men.
There are solutions to this problem. In New York, anti-violence advocates have introduced a bill to enact microstamping; this would imprint a unique mark on every bullet casing, helping officers connect guns to crimes.
On a national level, legislation has been proposed to close the “gun show loophole,” a loophole in federal law that allows guns to be purchased at gun shows without a background check. New York Representative McCarthy recently introduced a bill called the Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Devices Act in response to the shooting in Tucson.
For more information about gun violence statistics, see the following: