Gun violence as a public health emergency

During this past July 4th weekend, we saw senseless gun violence in major cities throughout the country. A child as young as 11 years old was murdered in Washington, DC, and even younger in Atlanta and Chicago. Our condolences go out to the families of the victims. Unfortunately, condolences are not nearly enough. Over the past five months, the National Medical Association (NMA) has been able to build a prevention, intervention, response, and communication infrastructure to respond to the COVID threat strategically. All the great minds and resources of our government, health care institutions, and public health providers have come together to save lives. This has been the truest example of a comprehensive public health response to an emerging threat. It is important for us, as a nation, to activate our entire public health system to prevent the morbidity and mortality of our communities from Gun Violence. This means equitable access to education, economics, housing, healthcare, and criminal justice. We must reimagine how we serve communities in need.

For these reasons, the NMA is calling for the declaration of a Public Health Emergency in cities faced with the epidemic of Gun Violence. We are asking the federal government to support this declaration in the form of a congressionally-funded resource package. We understand that there is an ongoing, acute viral/COVID-19 pandemic; however, we cannot permit this acute pandemic to allow us to ignore the chronic epidemic of Gun Violence in this country. We need action NOW.

Oliver T. Brooks, President, National Medical Association

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