Every year, more than 30,000 people are killed in the U.S. from firearms, costing billions of dollars in health expenditures. Gun violence is a leading cause of premature death in the U.S. and results in almost 60,000 non-fatal injuries annually. As a longtime advocate for violence prevention policies, the American Public Health Association recognizes that a comprehensive public health approach to addressing this growing crisis is necessary.
The tragic killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, saddened us as a nation, yet the tragedy has re-invigorated conversations around gun violence prevention. Not only are we faced with mass shootings but our communities are plagued by firearm-related homicide and suicide on a continual basis. For too long, we as a nation have failed to take on this devastating problem in our communities and we can wait no longer.
The issue of gun violence is complex and deeply rooted in our culture, which is why we must take a comprehensive public health approach to ensuring our families and communities are safe. We must place a renewed emphasis on improving gun injury and violence research, ensuring that firearms do not fall into the wrong hands and expanding access to mental health services to those who need it most. To move forward on the plan, President Barack Obama signed a set of executive orders based on the work of Vice President Joe Biden’s task force that will go into effect immediately. Congress must also get to work on real action.
APHA supports many of the provisions included in President Obama’s Plan to Protect our Children and our Communities by Reducing Gun Violence and we will continue to work with Congress and the White House to advance evidence-based public health interventions to reduce gun violence-related injuries and deaths. Visit this page often for updates, including new data, resources and other important tools to assure that the public health message will be heard in this debate.
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