Gun violence as a public health issue is not a new phenomenon. In 2014 alone, there were 81,034 injuries and 33,599 deaths due to gun violence in the United States,which equate to 222 Americans injured, and 92 killed, by firearms every day.
“Here is what I would like you to know,” writes Ta-Nehisi Coates to his son in his New York Times bestselling book Between the World and Me. “In America, it is tradition to destroy the black body — it is heritage.” Drawing on recent events, Coates shines a bright light on the very tangible obstacles African-Americans face in our country. Unfortunately, this is a reality that has largely been swept under the rug by the rest of America, including its health care providers.It is time that healthcare providers, and in particular primary care providers, confront this reality.
Reminiscing on the Etta James hit “At Last,” that’s exactly how I felt when Steven J. Stack, MD, president of the American Medical Association, finally addressed the epidemic of gun violence in our nation. Finally he hit the nail on the head, and called the situation what it really was: a public health crisis.
The University of Central Florida College of Medicine is located 20 miles from PULSE nightclub in Orlando, FL. This poem is dedicated to the victims, survivors and their families and to this beautiful community that will forever be #OrlandoStrong.
I walk down Summit Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota this evening, and it is packed with people. People grieving, people chatting, people holding one another, people holding banners and people giving speeches. July 7, 2016: a black man named Philandro Castile had been killed barely twenty-four hours ago by a police officer.
As I write this article, 49 people have been confirmed dead after a mass shooting at a popular nightclub in Orlando, FL, with an additional 53 reported injured. In recent times, similar shootings have occurred with frightening regularity. In 2015 alone, we can recount San Bernadino, California; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Roseburg, Oregon; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Charleston, North Carolina. People are being killed in unprecedented numbers, yet we have a poor understanding of the disease that is taking their lives. Gun violence is now a concerning public health issue and it begs the question: where are the patient advocates?
Gun violence is a public health crisis. On your average day in America, 297 people are victims of gun violence. They are shot in murders, assaults, suicide attempts and completions and police interventions. 89 of these victims died — seven of which were children. In the first 90 days of 2016, there have been 57 mass shootings. Your average American is now equally as likely to die via firearms as in a car crash.