My growing concern about gun violence prompted me to attend the conference “Moving from Crisis to Action: A Public Health Approach to Gun Violence,” reported in the Dec. 5 issue of The Post and Courier. The article was accurate, but the event was so enlightening to me that I want to share what I learned.
First, I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of gun violence in America. The media focus on mass shootings that occur so frequently consumes the daily news. Lost in that focus is that less than 1 percent of the 33,000 gun-related deaths that occur annually in this country are due to mass shootings. They are all tragic and senseless events, but we must keep them in perspective as we seek solutions to gun violence.
Second, I was overwhelmed by the knowledge and understanding of the problem by public health, medical, psychiatric, legal, law enforcement and faith communities. They all presented data and experience that demonstrated that solutions consistent with the Second Amendment to the Constitution are readily at hand. How about implementing such simple and proven actions, supported by the majority of Americans, such as background checks for all gun sales and extended wait times that allow the review process to be completed prior to purchase?
And, finally, I was overwhelmed by the inability or unwillingness of our elected officials to address the issue with constructive legislation favored by most Americans. The scenario takes me back to 1963 — “How many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died.” (“Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan).
With the federal government deadlocked by partisan conflict, it is time for our state and local leaders to act on gun violence — now.
Robert P. Jacobs, M.D.