Our nation’s public health has improved dramatically over the past few decades. It’s sometimes surprising to think about the large shifts we’ve made in health-related behaviors in just one generation. I remember sitting on my grandmother’s lap as a child – one of her hands on my back, the other holding a cigarette. This behavior would be entirely unacceptable today. When we learn how risky choices affect us and our loved ones, we start to make better decisions. Like smoking, the public health community has inspired better, safer practices in regards to seatbelt use and pool safety, as well as healthier dietary and lifestyle choices. These campaigns have undoubtedly saved lives and reduced the number of injuries as a result of risky behaviors.
Gun violence in the United States is a public health concern, and the medical community has rightly labeled it so. We see the risk to one’s life as a result of firearms use manifest itself over 100,000 times a year, with a five-year-average of over 31,000 fatalities and nearly 75,000 non-fatal injuries. While most media attention focuses on gun crimes and homicides, almost two-thirds of all gun deaths are suicides and unintentional shooting fatalities. It is clear that only focusing on the guns used in crimes isn’t enough. Deaths and injuries as a result of unintentional or self-inflicted gunshot wounds are preventable, and through an open and honest conversation as a society, we can make this country a safer place to live in.
Brady’s commitment to addressing gun violence in our country is a comprehensive approach that aims to develop safer attitudes and behaviors around gun ownership and the 300 million firearms currently present in American homes. The goal of keeping our children and communities safe should be a uniting force for people on all sides of the table. Whether it is preventing the unintentional shootings of children, school shootings, firearms suicides, or any of the senseless tragedies resulting from the criminal use of firearms, we as a society should commit to reducing the number of people killed or injured by gun violence in our country. The public health approach has done wonders making America safer in other areas; it can absolutely do the same with gun violence.