TITLE: Responding to the Crisis of Firearm Violence in the United States
SOURCE: JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(9):740. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.1292.
AUTHOR: Garen J. Wintemute, MD, MPH
(1) Gun violence in the US is a public health problem: More than 30 000 people are purposely shot to death each year—more than 300 000 since the World Trade Center was destroyed in 2001. Rates of firearm-related violent crime have increased 26% since 2008.
(2) More research and researchers are needed: The government has abandoned its commitment to understanding the problem and devising evidence-based solutions. There’s almost no funding for firearm violence research, and there are almost no researchers. There are no more than a dozen active, experienced investigators in the United States have focused their careers primarily on firearm violence. Only 2 are physicians. Only 1 has evaluated the effectiveness of an assault weapons ban. No CDC researcher has done more than occasional work in this field in 15 years.
(3) Motor vehicle connection: In the 1960s, the nation recognized a fast-growing crisis related to motor vehicle traffic fatalities. We created an agency, led by internist-epidemiologist William Haddon, MD, to launch an aggressive research effort and recommend and implement evidence-based interventions. The motor vehicle industry waged what the Supreme Court called the “regulatory equivalent of war” against airbags, one of the most important of those interventions. On airbags and other matters, the industry lost; the public’s health and safety won