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Why gun violence is a public health emergency

By Sono Motoyama, Association of Health Care Journalists June 12, 2024

Stoneleigh Fellows Jessica Beard and Ruth Abaya were featured by the Association of Health Care Journalists for speaking about the gun violence epidemic during a recent Heath Care Journalists conference.

A panel at HJ24 unequivocally stated that gun violence is a public health issue, and is properly “in the lane” of both health professionals and health journalists, as the title of the discussion indicated. This position refutes a 2018 National Rifle Association tweet that urged “self-important anti-gun doctors” to “stay in their lane” when it came to issuing reports on firearm injuries and deaths.

“When people are shot by a gun, there are pretty profound physical impacts — sometimes lifelong physical impacts — related to that,” said panelist Dr. Ruth Abaya, senior director at the Health Alliance for Violence Intervention, which seeks to address gun violence through hospital and community partnerships.

These injuries, which disproportionately affect Black and Brown communities, have an impact not only on the person who is shot, but have ripple effects on the person’s family, community and the health care system. The problem is therefore properly in the purview of public health.

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