Yes, you read the headline right; and no, it is not just an attention-grabber. In what might sound like a very bizarre suggestion to many, some public health officials (and even police) are actually suggesting that gun crimes be classified as a public health issue rather than a policing issue. With the United States’ apparent inability to curtail the number of violent deaths attributed to firearms, some suggest that this is really the best solution. So, what exactly would this look like and how would it impact gun owners and private citizens?
If you have seen people debate gun control before, you have likely heard this tried and true argument. Someone proposes a new gun restriction or regulation and the gun owner immediately talks about how cars aren’t blamed for drunk drivers, so why should guns be blamed for irresponsible owners? Though there might be some merit on both sides of this argument, they are both likely avoiding the reality of the situation. Cars are now covered as a public health issue, with plenty of campaigns and safety measures in place to protect drivers.
With this in mind, public health officials (and even some police) are calling for guns to be approached in a similar fashion. Rather than look at imposing restrictions that often aren’t enforced, this type of approach could actually make a difference. After all, it has helped to lower the accidental death rate in automobiles, so wouldn’t that give this approach some merit?
One of the biggest complaints by gun owners is that much of the statistics used against firearms leaves out important information, such as the suicide rate. In fact, suicides make up 60% of the gun deaths in America today and present quite a unique problem for the country as a whole. While those who call for more gun control point to the increasing number of gun deaths, those who look at this statistic might come to a different conclusion. Effectively, this just further supports the notion that gun crimes should be approached as a public health concern.
In reality, this is not a new idea. The Harvard School of Public Health suggested measures like this back in 2013 and others have supported the notion. With many of the recent shootings that have occurred, it seems like a good time to get moving forward.
Of course, one thing that these public health officials seem to ignore is the reality of these figures. If suicide makes up 60% of gun deaths, that means at least 60% of all gun crimes are actually intentional. Assuming that homicide makes up the majority of the 40%, this leaves very little to work with on the accidental end. With that in mind, is it really safe to assume that measures utilized to prevent automobile deaths (which are mostly caused by accidents) will be effective? Perhaps more than this, what steps can actually be taken where it concerns guns?