Washington, D.C., June 26, 2008
– As the lead organization on the amicus brief for the American Public Health Association et al, the American Public Health Association (APHA) is gravely disappointed by today’s Supreme Court ruling against the District of Columbia’s gun restrictions and expresses concern that the ruling will negatively impact public health.
“With today’s ruling against the district’s ban on handguns, the Supreme Court has increased the likelihood of violence and injury in the nation’s capital,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of APHA. “While our organization supports the individual rights upon which this nation was founded, we believe that this ruling limits the ability of communities to protect its citizens from harm. Gun violence is a major public health problem that needs to be addressed through a variety of actions, including legislation and regulation.”
Firearms have a profound affect on the public’s health in the United States. Each year thousands die from firearm-related injuries and hundreds of thousands more are injured. The risk of suicide, homicide and fatal gun-related shootings is greater in homes with guns, and in communities with a higher prevalence of guns. Handguns, in particular, are responsible for the majority of all firearm homicides and suicides.
APHA joined other health organizations in filing an amicus brief in support of the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns. The brief provided evidence to support the fact that a substantial number of murders, suicides and unintentional firearm deaths could be prevented by the regulations in place in the district.
The district passed its gun ban in 1976. The law requires any rifles or shotguns in the home to be disassembled or kept under trigger lock and prevents private citizens from carrying handguns in most cases. APHA believes that the law is consistent with public health data demonstrating the risks associated with handguns and the benefits of the law itself.