Gun Violence is a Public Health Crisis

Gun Violence is a Public Health Crisis
By Nicole Chute, Health Promotion & Communication Specialist, City of Nashua Division of Public Health & Community Services 

Gun violence is a leading cause of premature death in the United States (U.S.), killing more than 38,000 people and causing nearly 85,000 injuries each year. Some groups of people have higher rates of firearm injury than others. Men account for 86% of all victims of firearm death and 87% of nonfatal firearm injuries. Rates of firearm violence also vary by age and race/ethnicity. Firearm homicide rates are highest among teens and young adults 15-34 years of age and among Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Hispanic or Latino populations. Firearm suicide rates are highest among adults 75 years of age and older and among American Indian or Alaska Native and non-Hispanic white populations. Among U.S. residents ages 15-24, homicide is the fourth leading cause of death for non-Hispanic whites, the second leading cause of death for Hispanics, and the leading cause of death for non-Hispanic blacks (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC).

Individuals who survive a firearm-related injury may experience long-term consequences, including problems with memory, thinking, emotions, and physical disability from injury to the brain; paralysis from injury to the spinal cord; and chronic mental health problems from conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder. The effects of firearm violence even extend beyond victims and their families. Shooting incidents in homes, schools, houses of worship, workplaces, shopping areas, on the street, or at community events can affect the sense of safety and security of entire communities and impact everyday decisions. The economic impact of firearm violence is also substantial. Firearm violence costs the United States tens of billions of dollars each year in medical and lost productivity costs (CDC, 2022).

Gun violence is not inevitable. It can be prevented through a comprehensive public health approach that keeps families and communities safe. The issue of gun violence is complex and deeply rooted in our culture, which is why we must take a public health approach to ensure safety. We must place a renewed emphasis on improving gun injury and violence research. Along with the American Public Health Association (APHA), the City of Nashua Division of Public Health and Community Services (DPHCS) recognizes gun violence is a growing public health crisis, and a comprehensive public health approach is needed.

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