AFFIRM’s public health approach to gun violence


After two more tragic mass shootings in less than 24 hours – El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH, which followed one week after the mass shooting in Gilroy, CA – the public is once again looking for real solutions to curb the American epidemic of Gun Violence. CBS Sunday Morning helped meet that need by publishing a segment on August 4, 2019 highlighting AFFIRM’s public health approach to gun violence.

This segment features interviews of healthcare leaders charging the way forward of approaching gun violence as a public health crisis, and offers new ideas and new solutions to this epidemic that never seems to end.

Here are my key takeaways from the video segment below.

#1 – Deaths related to gun violence are all deaths that could have been prevented. But in order to do so, we need to approach this crisis by combining research and action. Through the processes of public health, we can change the patterns of this epidemic – the same way we’ve done for other epidemics throughout history. We are not helpless.

#2 – It takes a coalition of healthcare providers and concerned citizens, coming together with one voice, to successfully make the argument for research and knowledge. This coalition includes doctors, nurses, sociologists, mothers, fathers, gun owners, law enforcement, social workers — all of us, standing together, and standing affirm.

#3 – While mass shootings receive significant media and public attention, the vast majority of deaths from guns are from suicide (60%), followed by homicide (38%), then accidental shootings (1.5%).

#4 – The reason why there is a lack of knowledge and understanding of the gun violence epidemic, is because of the “Dickey Amendment.” Passed in 1996, the Dickey Amendment removed US $2.6 million from the CDC’s budget, and soon after, the NIH budget. As a result, federally funded research into gun violence virtually stopped, and the careers of researchers who wished to study the problem were suppressed.

#5 – If the government will not fund research into gun violence, then private US citizens, can and will donate their own money to fund meaningful research. 

#6 – Raising money and funding research is not about gun control, but it is about gaining the knowledge on how to identify shooters before the shoot – and saving lives.

#7 – Healthcare providers want to work with everyone interested in saving lives. There is more than enough room in this lane for everyone.

The most important takeaway is that we are not helpless. There is another way of approaching gun violence – as an epidemic. We have done this before, to make cars safer, reduce disease from cigarette smoking, and prevent transmission from HIV/AIDS. We will do it again to solve gun violence and save lives.



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