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Gun Violence is a Public Health Crisis: 5 Things The Public Needs to Know

Washington, D.C., March 7, 2019 - Today, members of the Labor, Health, Human Services, and Education Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on the public health implications of our country’s gun violence epidemic that, in 2017, claimed 109 lives every day. With countless Americans unaware of the depths of the crisis due to a series of actions spurred on by the corporate gun lobby, Brady called attention to the issue, noting five important facts the public needs to know.

Brady president Kris Brown stated,

“Gun violence is a public health epidemic, but from a public health research perspective it is not treated like one. This issue stands alone as one that has a significant impact upon the population, yet funding has not been provided to determine the best actions to reduce and prevent gun deaths and injuries. We have lost a generation of the most talented researchers as a result of this lack of funding. We cannot afford to lose any more time or talent which could be leading the way to lifesaving research. Now is the time to fully fund research into this crucial issue so that we might stem the tide of lives lost that could have been saved. We have to take action, not sides.”

Dr. Joseph Sakran, Director of Emergency General Surgery at Johns Hopkins Medicine, Brady board member, and founder of the #ThisIsOurLane movement, added,

“Every single day, I see victims of gun violence come through my emergency room. No one has to tell me that this is a public health crisis, because I live this crisis every time I come to work. Doctors across the country want to see our elected officials put aside these petty political games and help us find solutions. We know that this is our lane and that it is our responsibility to stand up and advocate for our patients, past, present, and future. Because if we don’t - who will?”

Ahead of today’s hearing, here are 5 things the public needs to know about gun violence as a public health epidemic:

  1. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is our nation’s top agency to research public health issues. Yet, for years, stemming from the Dickey Amendment, the one area that has not received funding and attention is gun violence, despite the fact that it kills and injured more people than diseases studied with far more funding by the CDC.
  2. Doctors are supposed to advise patients of anything that threatens their health and safety, but the corporate gun lobby has pushed for state laws restricting them from addressing guns with their patients. In 2011, Florida officials passed the Firearm Owners Protection Act, which stated that doctors could be censored, fined, and have their licenses to practice medicine revoked if the Florida Board of Medicine found they violated the law. After Brady brought a lawsuit against the so-called “Docs vs. Glocks” law, the bill was struck down by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals as being unconstitutional.
  3. While some researchers have disputed the basic facts around gun safety and argued in favor of the corporate gun lobby’s frequent talking points, their work has been “largely discredited” with the results dismissed as being specious and frequently debunked.
  4. In January, as the 116th Congress was sworn in, Brady released a comprehensive approach to gun violence prevention, including fully funding the CDC at a minimum of $50 million to allow research into gun violence over the next five years.
  5. These are the facts: Every day, 96 people are shot and killed in the United States. Eight children and teens are shot every day in cases of family fire. Americans kill each other with guns at 25 times the rate of other high-income countries. And gun violence costs the American economy $229 billion every year.

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Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.


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