‘We Can Do More’ to Address Gun Violence

gun-violence-2By Steven Rothschild, MD

This week, the American Medical Association called for urgent action on a growing epidemic in the U.S. In doing so, the AMA joined several other professional societies in declaring that we can no longer continue to ignore a health problem that killed over 30,000 Americans last year (including 1,500 children) and disabled countless more. They cite strong evidence for interventions that have been consistently shown to save lives, but which are not being implemented.

What is this public health problem? AIDS? Cancer? Zika virus? No: It is gun violence.

This past weekend, all of us were horrified by the mass murder at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. The motivations of the gunman remain unclear, and we may never know whether this was due to homophobia, terrorism, mental illness or a combination of all three. What we do know is that 49 young people were robbed of their lives in a matter of minutes.

We also know that, here in Chicago, since the start of 2016 over five times that many people — 265 as I write this — have been killed with guns. Colleagues in the Rush emergency room tell me that so far this year they have seen more patients with gunshot wounds than ever before.

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