Doctors target gun violence as a social disease
Now this is a first. Gun violence now categorized as a social disease. Hmm, so now it’s being compared to a virus, a car, tobacco or alcohol. Public health experts are now saying that in the wake of recent mass shootings, are calling for a fresh look at gun violence as a social disease. They believe we need a public health approach to the problem, like the highway safety measures, product changes and driving laws that slashed deaths from car crashes decades ago, even as the number of vehicles on the road rose.
One example: Guardrails are now curved to the ground instead of having sharp metal ends that stick out and pose a hazard in a crash.
“People used to spear themselves and we blamed the drivers for that,” said Dr. Garen Wintemute, an emergency medicine professor who directs the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis.
He and other doctors say it wasn’t enough back then to curb deaths just by trying to make people better drivers, and it isn’t enough now to tackle gun violence by focusing solely on the people doing the shooting. They want a science-based, pragmatic approach based on the reality that we live in a society saturated with guns and need better ways of preventing harm from them. Translation: More laws. Dr. Stephen Hargarten found himself treating victims of the Sikh temple shootings at the emergency department he heads in Milwaukee. Seven people were killed, including the gunman, and three were seriously injured.
There is an estimated 300 million firearms that are owned by Americans in the US, and 1/3 of homes have at least one. The FBI says 2/3 of homicides, are caused by these guns. And about 9 percent of all violent crimes involve a gun — roughly 338,000 cases each year.
More than 73,000 emergency room visits in 2010 were for firearm-related injuries, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.
In 2010, stats show there were 73,000 gun related emergency room visits. By the facts get even more interesting, as gun opponents try to depict legal gun owners as insane crazies more apt to get drunk and shoot anyone who moves. And here’s the interesting results of one study – firearm owners were more likely than those with no firearms at home to binge drink or to drink and drive, and other research has tied alcohol and gun violence. That suggests that people with driving under the influence convictions should be barred from buying a gun, Wintemute said.
Interesting part, no one says have crime has dropped in cases where homeowners were armed.
Doctors are also pushing for gun manufacturers to redesign their guns so they don’t go off accidently. They also want new technology where only the gun owner can fire the weapon. Bans on assault weapons and multiple magazines that allow rapid and repeat firing are other possible steps.
Other changes include:
Gun shops must do background checks and refuse to sell firearms to people convicted of felonies or domestic violence misdemeanors, but those convicted of other violent misdemeanors can buy whatever they want. The rules also don’t apply to private sales, which one study estimates as 40 percent of the market.
Daniel Webster, a health policy expert and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research in Baltimore says, gun ownership — a precursor to gun violence — can spread “much like an infectious disease circulates.
- Posted in: Crime & Punishment ♦ Current Events ♦ Healthcare ♦ Politics
- Tagged: American Public Health Association, an emergency medicine professor who directs the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis, doctors say gun violence a social disease, Dr. David Satcher, Dr. Garen Wintemute, Dr. Stephen Hargarten emergency medicine chief at Froedtert Hospital and director of the Injury Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin