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Comparison of firearm mortality rates among children and adolescents in OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) nations. Per 1 million people ages 1-19 years, United States and peer countries, 2019. From Office of U.S. Surgeon General

Gun Violence: We can stop this public health crisis

Alliance for Gun Responsibility calls health crisis declaration is 'pivotal and offers tips

Editor’s Note: Following an announcement this week by the country’s chief medical officer declaring gun violence in the U.S. a public health crisis, gun control and anti-gun violence advocates cheered. The hope? That the declaration will be to gun violence what a similar declaration was to tobacco use. Tobacco use and deaths plummeted after it was determined to be a public health crisis. Below is the statement that Renée Hopkins, CEO of the statewide Alliance for Gun Responsibility, shared following the declaration. 

This week, the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, made an important announcement, officially declaring gun violence a public health crisis.

This marked the first time in U.S. history, that a Surgeon General has issued a public health advisory on gun violence. In his advisory, Dr. Murthy highlighted recent statistics on gun violence in the U.S., which outlines the urgent threat firearm violence poses to the health and well-being of our country. This moment is pivotal because Surgeon General advisories are issued exclusively for major public health challenges that require urgent national attention and action.

In the United States, gun violence is a major public health crisis, resulting in nearly 45,000 deaths annually in recent years. It is particularly stark among children and adolescents, a population for which firearm-related violence is the leading cause of death.

Read the U.S. Surgeon General’s advisory in full

This declaration emphasizes the urgent need for comprehensive action and underscores our mission to advocate for sensible gun laws and promote safety measures nationwide

The Surgeon General’s advisory lays out essential steps that our country can take to finally address gun violence, many of which the Alliance for Gun Responsibility has been advocating for decades, including more funding for firearms research and more gun safety laws like expanded background checks and assault weapons ban. Which are proven solutions to save lives.

According to the advisory on firearm violence, the Surgeon General highlighted several key points:

  • In 2022, more than 48,000 individuals, including more than 4,600 children and adolescents, died as a result of gun violence, and many more suffered nonfatal gun injuries.
  • Rates of firearm‑related deaths in the U.S. are significantly higher than rates in other high‑income countries.
  • Communities disproportionately affected by gun violence include racial and ethnic groups, particularly Black and Hispanic communities, who experience higher rates of firearm-related injuries and deaths.
  • As firearm‑related injuries and deaths increase, the grief, trauma, and risk of mental health challenges for children and family members of victims increases too.

The advisory also outlines strategic recommendations to address this crisis, including:

  • Enhancing the quality and availability of data on gun violence to inform evidence-based policies and interventions.
  • Supporting local initiatives that focus on prevention, education, and intervention in communities most affected by gun violence.
  • Promoting policies that include prevention strategies like universal background checks, permit‑to‑purchase laws, safe storage laws, and Implementation of effective firearm removal policies.
  • Raising awareness about the impact of gun violence on public health and promoting safe firearm practices.
gun violence heath crisis

Graphic from U.S. Office of the Surgeon General

In the past, we have seen reports from the Surgeon General have a consequential impact on public health issues. For instance, two of the most significant public health challenges in the last century in America—tobacco use and drunk driving—have been significantly reduced through the application of public health research and intervention techniques.

This advisory has the potential to save lives and counter the deceptive narratives of the gun lobby and its extremist agenda. It signals a shift towards change in the United States, yet it marks just one step in our ongoing battle to eliminate the harm caused by gun violence.

In numerous states, including Washington, gun violence costs hundreds of millions of dollars in direct and indirect costs and takes more lives than motor vehicle crashes. Underscoring the urgent need for us to elect leaders across all branches of government who prioritize a public health approach to addressing gun violence.

We remain committed to advocating for evidence-based policies and fostering community-driven initiatives that prioritize public health approaches to prevent and reduce gun violence. By advocating for comprehensive research, education, and legislation, we aim to create safer communities and mitigate the devastating impacts of gun violence nationwide.

If you haven’t yet read the complete advisory, click here to read it here.

Read more:

Mayor Harrell Statement on Garfield High School Shooting

4 gun violence prevention bill near becoming law

Grandmothers urge parent action now on gun bills

‘Moving change forward:’ Anti-gun violence bills gain traction

Fight for tighter gun control continues

About the Author

By Renée Hopkins / CEO of Alliance for Gun Responsibility