New York City’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Mary Bassett, recently published a blog on the Huffington Post about Gun Violence as a public health issue. It is essential that we pay attention to this important aspect of the conversation about common sense gun control legislation. As Dr. Bassett states: “The mission of public health is to protect and promote the health, safety and wellbeing of entire populations. When public health professionals notice a troubling trend, we can’t sit on the sidelines. We must take action.”
The fact that there are troubling trends around gun violence is surely an understatement. For a closer look at some of the statistics, here are some compiled by the Brady Campaign, and here are some infographics from CNN. Dr. Bassett reminds us of the public health approach taken to reduce untimely deaths from smoking in the past decade and of the major changes that have been made since that multifaceted campaign. A similar approach can and should be taken to address gun violence. And while we work on gathering research (which the CDC is currently banned from doing) and coming together from various sectors to make public health improvements, there are some wider issues at play.
Dr. Basset says, “As we do research, design programs, and advocate for policy change, we must explicitly name racism, sexism, and homophobia. This is part of the mission of public health, the first step to actively confronting systems of oppression, and the first step to standing in solidarity.” Read the full article here. To learn more about the work of communities of faith around gun violence prevention, visit the Council’s resource page.