Health is a lot more than the absence of illness. And promoting health is a lot more than dealing with medical care. We have to be much more holistic in our approach. And gun violence prevention’s part of it.
The effect of guns is not measured by the 41,000 deaths. That’s easy to measure, but what are the downstream effects of this, in many of these communities and to the public at large? When you’re running a healthcare organization, we see it each and every day. Millions of people end up in the hospital as a result of gun violence. We treat people who come to us with gun injuries. We treat the people that come to us with trauma. We treat mental health issues. We treat domestic violence victims.
Over 80% of Americans, believe that something should be done about gun safety, including gun owners. I think people are afraid to talk about it because people automatically jump to the issue of, oh you want to ban guns. I’m not against guns. I’m against the unnecessary ill effect of guns that do terrible harm to people.
We need rational discussions and a call to action on this issue. Now the lessons here, that if we continue to be persistent about the health effects of gun violence, the trauma, the effect on kids, the effect on communities, the effect on all the people, the physical effects, the social effects, the environmental effects, and we continue messaging that over and over and over again, you will make a difference. It will happen. It is time for healthcare leaders [to] treat gun violence as a public health issue.
Prevention is important. When people come in to our emergency rooms, what we typically do, and have been doing for years and years and years, we assess the risk factors to their health. So we ask questions about alcoholism. We ask questions about domestic violence. We ask questions about drug abuse. It’s all part of the risk assessment of determining what might be of danger, health wise, to that individual or that family.
So we should be asking questions about gun violence. Have you heard gunshots in your neighborhood? Has anybody ever put a gun to your head? Is there a gun at home? Are they secure? So you’ll ask a whole series of questions like that. And then you will find out that many of these people, especially kids, young teens may be in danger of gun violence, as well as provide services to those people who are affected as a result of gun violence.
— Michael Dowling in How to reduce gun violence without taking people’s guns