By Lori Tremmel Freeman, NACCCHO CEO
“Gun violence is a profound public health crisis in America. The horrific loss of life and injury in Texas and Ohio once again fill us with sadness, anger, and frustration at yet another senseless act of violence. These tragedies have reached epidemic proportions and as with other epidemics, we must act to protect our communities’ public safety and well-being.
“We join with so many others across the nation in offering our sincerest thoughts and prayers for the victims. But we know that is not enough. We know it is far past time for meaningful action to curb gun violence and its causes. In the absence of federal leadership, local officials, including public health leaders, are taking critical steps to address this crisis, including community-based prevention programs and public outreach and education aimed at reducing violence. But we still must do more.
“NACCHO remains committed to providing resources, training, and guidance to our local health department members to help in their response to this ongoing public health crisis. We also call upon lawmakers to take a public health approach to the violence epidemic. That starts with federal research on gun violence prevention, including suicide prevention. It also includes conducting background checks on all gun purchases, preventing individuals most at risk of violence from purchasing guns, banning assault weapons and large ammunition magazines, and engaging in research about how to effectively address violence. Moreover, health officials, government leaders, law enforcement, faith communities, and concerned citizens, including lawful gun owners, must come together to address the social and cultural issues that cause individuals to, far too often, resort to violence, including racism and xenophobia as was reportedly the motive in the El Paso shooting.
“Lastly, even as individuals, we can do our part through safe gun ownership including securing guns in the home, installing trigger locks, and otherwise limiting ready access to guns by keeping them locked in a safe. While we may not be able to stop all gun violence, these are critical, concrete steps to turn the tide. It is far past time for action.“
Click here to read NACCHO’s Firearm-Related Injury and Death Prevention Policy Statement.