In a recent Opinion Piece featured in The Hill, PISC Senior Scholar Elinore Kaufman, MD, MSHP, and Executive Committee Member Therese S. Richmond, PhD, FAAN, CRNP, explain why Joe Biden’s current gun policy “doesn’t go far enough.” In the United States, over 100 people die at the hands of gun violence every day. To address this, the Biden Administration plans to reform the criminal justice system. Although Kaufman and Richmond applaud Joe Biden’s proposed efforts, they believe that his plan will fail to bring significant change without the utilization of the healthcare sectors.
Gun violence is a public health epidemic. The public healthcare system provides unique opportunities to stage interventions within “physical, social, economic, and cultural environments in which gun violence occurs.” To involve healthcare in the fight against gun violence, the Biden administration should dedicate $1 billion each year towards gun violence prevention in National Institutes of Health and Center for Disease Control. Because it is exceedingly difficult for researchers to access relevant gun violence data, restrictions enacted with the Tiahrt Amendment of 2003 need to be lifted. Moreover, data pertaining to gun violence should be collected with improved accuracy to gain a better understanding of the gun violence epidemic in the United States. “It is impossible to disentangle personal gun violence from structural determinants of health, social justice, and systemic racism,” Kaufman and Richmond write. The involvement of public healthcare is essential to effectively reduce gun violence in the United States.