US surgeon general declares gun violence a public health crisis

Surgeon General Murthy recommends an array of preventive measures akin to anti-smoking campaigns

Xinhua June 26, 2024
US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. PHOTO: REUTERS


US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Tuesday declared gun violence a public health crisis in America, recommending an array of preventive measures that he compared to past campaigns against smoking and traffic safety.

"The step follows years of calls by health officials to view firearm deaths through the lens of health rather than politics," said The New York Times in a report.

Murthy's advisory calls for an increase in funding for firearm violence prevention research, advises health workers to discuss firearm storage with patients during routine medical visits, and recommends safe storage laws, universal background checks, "red flag" laws and an assault weapons ban, among other measures.

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"I've long believed this is a public health issue," he was quoted as saying in the report. "This issue has been politicised, has been polarised over time. But I think when we understand that this is a public health issue, we have the opportunity to take it out of the realm of politics and put it into the realm of public health."

According to Murthy's advisory, "in 2022, 48,204 total people died from firearm-related injuries, including suicides, homicides, and unintentional deaths ... This is over 8,000 more lives lost than in 2019 and over 16,000 more lives lost than in 2010."

Experts estimate that 400 million guns are circulating in private hands, making it nearly impossible for the government to meaningfully restrict access to them. In 2020, gunshot wounds surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of death for children and adolescents in the United States.


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