Is Gun Violence a Health Issue?

Mar 7, 2018

Is gun violence a health issue? Epidemiologists like Nancy Krieger, at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, say yes. In 2015 she told NPR, “We in public health count dead people. And we count them in order to understand how to prevent preventable deaths.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not been able to study gun violence in order to prevent deaths since 1996 when congress passed an amendment, forbidding the use of federal money for research to “advocate or promote gun control.”

Just because federal dollars can’t be used to study gun violence doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been the subject of public health research. After the latest school shooting in Parkland, Florida, attention was turned again to ways to make campuses safer. The possible solution being more people practicing conceal carry on school grounds is one that has been refuted with evidence by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. They report that “data show no evidence that Right To Carry laws reduce mass shootings or the number of people shot in those incidents.”

They also pointed out that “research demonstrates that access to firearms substantially increases suicide risks, especially among adolescents and young adults.” They determined that increasing gun availability in campus environments could make common acts of aggression, recklessness, or self-harm more deadly and have a negative impact on the safety of students, faculty, and staff.