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Surgeon-General Declares Firearm-Violence Is An Urgent Public Health-Crisis

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Surgeon-General Declares Firearm-Violence Is An Urgent Public Health-Crisis

Authored by Chase Smith via The Epoch Times,

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued the first-ever surgeon general’s advisory on firearm violence on June 25, saying that it poses an urgent threat to the nation’s health and well-being.

The unprecedented advisory calls for a public health approach to address what Dr. Murthy describes as a “moral crisis” that demands immediate and decisive action.

A surgeon general’s advisory is a public statement that calls the American people’s attention to urgent public health issues and is reserved for significant public health challenges that require the nation’s immediate awareness and action.

“Today, for the first time in the history of our office, I am issuing a Surgeon General’s Advisory on firearm violence,” Dr. Murthy said in a video statement.

“It outlines the urgent threat firearm violence poses to the health and well-being of our country. As a doctor, I’ve seen the consequences of firearm violence up close and the lives of the patients that cared for over the years. These are moms and dads, sons and daughters, all of whom were robbed of their physical and mental health by senseless acts of violence.”

The announcement on firearms comes a little over a week after the surgeon general called for a warning label to be placed on social media platforms, stating the potential mental health harms for children using them.

Opponents of the action argue that the surgeon general’s advisory could potentially infringe on Second Amendment rights if enforced improperly, while proponents say it could have a similar impact on public policy and perception as similar advisories, such as those on the dangers of smoking.

Rise in Firearm-related Injuries

Dr. Murthy’s announcement included statistics and personal experiences. According to the advisory, firearm-related injuries have become the leading cause of death for U.S. children and adolescents, surpassing motor vehicle crashes, cancer, and drug overdoses.

In 2022 alone, 48,204 people died from firearm-related injuries, marking a significant increase compared to previous years, according to the advisory.

“Fifty-four percent of adults in America report that they or family members have experienced a firearm-related incident, whether they’ve been personally threatened with or injured by a firearm, lost a family member, witnessed a shooting, or shot a firearm in self-defense,” Dr. Murthy said.

The advisory states that black individuals suffer the highest rates of firearm homicides, while suicide rates are highest among veterans, older white individuals, and younger American Indian or Alaska Native people.

“What is especially devastating is how this has affected our children,” Dr. Murthy said.

Dr. Murthy shared his personal experiences as a doctor, recounting the stories of patients and families affected.

“I’ve sat with parents who’ve lost their child to firearm violence. I’ve listened to their stories and felt their pain as they describe the holes in their hearts,” he said. “As a father, I know a parent’s worst nightmare is to lose a child, to feel like you can’t protect your child from harm.”

Criticism of Policy

Second Amendment advocates with The Heller Foundation have voiced strong criticisms of the approach by America’s chief public health figure.

Kristie Tertel, national director of Legislative Policy for The Heller Foundation warns that the advisory could unlawfully infringe on Second Amendment rights.

“The U.S. Surgeon General is using the guise of a ‘public health emergency’ as an unlawful and unconstitutional means of circumventing the Heller decision,” she told The Epoch Times.

Ms. Tertel emphasizes that the Supreme Court’s ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller established a binding precedent affirming an individual’s right to possess firearms for self-defense.

She noted Justice Scalia’s majority opinion which stated, “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense.”

She added her own personal experience where having a firearm would have helped her avoid being the victim of a crime.

“A firearm is the great equalizer,” she told The Epoch Times. “I am Australian-American and thought guns were dumb—until I needed one. I have over 30 stalkers nationwide. My ex-boyfriend beat me into a coma seven times and left me for dead in a Baltimore dumpster. Two years ago I was brutally drugged and raped and we are now prosecuting him for attempted murder. Had I been armed and trained, it would have all been prevented.”

Dick Heller, the lead plaintiff in the landmark DC v. Heller case and executive director of The Heller Foundation, also dismissed the advisory’s potential impact on the Second Amendment, suggesting that the real issue lies with criminal behavior, not firearms.

“The only effect the advisory will have on the Second Amendment is the fake news trying to blame ‘helpless’ firearms for what people do,” he said in an interview with The Epoch Times. Heller argued that firearms themselves are incapable of committing crimes, which are actions performed by individuals, often criminals.

“Life is simple, the only helpful use of an advisory would be to have the government keep the killer-animal-violent criminals out of society and locked up in a maximum security jail,” he said. “Of course, this will not happen under the current administration as it does not fit their ‘gun control’ agenda, painting the false picture of ‘It’s Guns Doing Bad Things.’”

lan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, echoed the focus on criminals themselves in an interview with The Epoch Times.

“Criminals break laws. That’s why they’re called criminals,” he said.

“When you have open borders and people coming in and committing violent acts all over the country, this is where your problems are.”

Mr. Gottlieb also took issue with the data behind the Surgeon General’s action.

“First of all, let me say that the data they’re using, saying gun violence is an ‘epidemic’, so to speak, is totally off base,” he asserted.

“Quite honestly, that the Surgeon General is pushing this as a public health crisis really bothers me. Because it’s not a public health crisis. I mean, gun ownership is not a contagious disease.”

Policy Support

Proponents of the advisory argue however that the advisory and proposed actions of the Surgeon General are long overdue.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said the report comes weeks after their own advisory council called on such action from the Surgeon General and the White House.

Brady’s Board Chair and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joseph V Sakran, said in a statement after the announcement that will “create a seachange in the fight to free America from gun violence.”

“Surgeon General reports are renowned publications that take an evidence-based approach to our nation’s most urgent public health issues. Seeing as firearms are now the leading cause of death for children and teens in the U.S., there’s arguably no public health issue that’s more urgent or that warrants the commission of a Surgeon General report more than gun violence,” Dr. Sakran said. “This advisory not only sounds the alarm for all Americans, but it signals there must be greater investments in research and violence prevention solutions.”

He continued by noting how previous reports on public health issues such as the dangers of smoking ignited a slew of initiatives to tackle the issue and they hope the gun-related report will have the same impact.

“As a survivor of gun violence and a trauma surgeon who treats firearm injuries, I am appreciative of both the Surgeon General and the Biden-Harris administration,” continued Sakran. “The best medical treatment is prevention and we are grateful for the advocates who have been calling for this report and the experts who set it into motion, we will finally turn the tides in the fight against gun violence.”

Surgeon General’s Recommendations

The surgeon general’s advisory lays out a comprehensive approach to address firearm violence as a public health crisis.

Key strategies include implementing community violence prevention programs, enhancing firearm risk reduction strategies, improving access to mental health care, and expanding research funding to inform and evaluate prevention efforts.

“Firearm violence is a public health crisis. Our failure to address it is a moral crisis,” Dr. Murthy said. “To protect the health and well-being of Americans, especially our children, we must now act with the clarity, courage, and urgency that this moment demands.”

By adopting a public health approach, similar to those used for other significant health issues like tobacco use and motor vehicle safety, he argues the nation can work toward reducing the impact of firearm violence on communities and future generations.

“Our children should not have to live in fear that they are going to get shot if they go to school,” Dr. Murthy said. “None of us should have to worry that going to the mall or concert, or house of worship means putting our lives at risk, or that we’ll get a call that a loved one in a moment of crisis has taken their own life with a firearm.”

The Epoch Times has reached out to Second Amendment advocates and gun control supporters for comment.

Tyler Durden Tue, 06/25/2024 – 23:40

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