Citizens shot by police. Police shot by citizens. Citizens shot by citizens.
Too many victims. Terror. Tears.
Somebody else’s neighborhood. Never in mine.
Racism, disrespect, mental illness, hatred, anger, economic inequality, hopelessness.
Rationalizing? History. Reality.
The Gun Violence Archive lists more than 27,390 gun-related incidents in the U.S. which have occurred since January 1, 2016. The result includes nearly 7,100 deaths. Some of the latest additions are those who sadly made this week’s headlines: Officer Lorne Ahrens, 48, Philando Castile, 32, Officer Michael Krol, 40, Alton Sterling, 37, Officer Michael Smith, 55, Officer Brent Thompson, 43, and Officer Patrick Zamarripa.
Treating gun violence as a public health problem is a special focus of the American Public Health Association (APHA). The association’s executive director, Georges Benjamin, MD, urges policy makers and the public to use the term “epidemic” to characterize our country’s gun violence problem. In a commentary published in The Guardian he wrote:
“To reverse the gun violence epidemic – and it’s important that we use the word “epidemic” – we need to do the same thing we’d do for any infectious disease outbreak. …Time and again a public health approach to solving health threats is a proven, evidence-based approach to improving health and preventing injury. That approach looks upstream to prevent bad things from happening downstream, and then doing everything possible to prevent them.
Looking upstream is the uncomfortable task we continue to avoid.