Is Gun Violence a Public Health Problem?

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NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg will speak at next week's Gun Policy Summit in Baltimore.
NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg will speak at next week’s Gun Policy Summit in Baltimore.

In the wake of the Newtown shootings, we’ve talked about mental health and the psychology of school shooters; we’ve talked about a culture of violence and the role the government plays in regulating firearms. But next week’s Gun Policy Summit at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health will take a different tack:  examining gun violence as a public health issue.

“Guns kill more than 31,000 people each year in the U.S., which has a homicide rate seven times the average of other high-income countries,” the  summit’s press release notes. If there were a comparable disease plaguing Americans, there’s no doubt we would have experts on the case; why should gun violence be any different? To that end, Johns Hopkins is convening a host of experts — including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, among 20 others — to “analyze the latest research and present clear, comprehensive recommendations for gun policies that will reduce gun violence, will have broad public support and will not violate constitutional rights.”

Topics include keeping guns from high-risk individuals, gun violence and the mentally ill, weaknesses in the current background check system, and the role of domestic violence. The summit takes place January 14-15 at Bloomberg; attendance is free, but registration is required due to limited seating. If you can’t make it to the summit, checkout the webcast here, or stay tuned for the forthcoming book Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis, out later this month from the Johns Hopkins University Press.



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