News: U.S. surgeon general declares gun violence a public health crisis

CDI Strategies - Volume 18, Issue 26

The United States surgeon general declared gun violence in the country a public health crisis in a first-ever public health advisory on gun violence in a recent U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report. The nation's top public health official, Vivek Murthy, outlined what he called “devastating and far-reaching consequences to the public's well-being” that go far beyond even the 50,000 lives lost every year. He called for more research funding, better mental health access, and other steps such as secure storage to reduce harm, Medscape Medical News reported.

In 2020, gun violence became the leading cause of death among U.S. children and adolescents, and the general rate of firearm-related deaths has been steadily rising, with more than half in 2022 driven by suicides, followed by homicides and accidental deaths. Mass shootings have also increased in recent years, with more than 600 such incidents each year since 2020.

Murthy has compared his latest effort to previous public health campaigns that targeted cigarette smoking and promoted seatbelt use, telling MSNBC in an interview, “One of my goals here is to take out of the realm of politics and into the realm of public health.”

Many of the solutions recommended in the report, like expanding background checks and banning assault-style weapons, are staunchly opposed by Republican lawmakers in Congress as a violation of the U.S. Constitution's guaranteed right to bear arms, however. The National Rifle Association said the advisory was an “extension of the Biden administration's war on law-abiding gun owners.”

Editor’s note: To read Medscape Medical News’ coverage of this story, click here. To read the HHS report, click here.

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