How does gun violence impact the community?

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Surgeon General Vivek Murthy recently declared gun violence as the latest public health crisis.

Murthy calls on the U.S. to ban automatic rifles, begin background checks for purchasing guns, regulate the industry and pass laws that will limit their use in public spaces.

Murthy hopes these strategies will minimize gun violence across the U.S. and reduce injuries and deaths.

Will Humble, Executive Director of the Arizona Public Health Association, joined Arizona Horizon to discuss the impacts of gun violence in the community.

“It [gun violence] absolutely is and has been [a public health crisis] for a long time,” Humble said. “Let’s take fentanyl and opioids as an example. Pretty much everyone recognizes that as a public health crisis, and it has been for a long time! Firearm deaths and injuries is on par with that.”

According to Humble, four people die per day as a result of a firearm injury accident in Arizona.

The surgeon general’s declaration is an advisory, rather than an emergency declaration. An emergency declaration, for example, would be something like the COVID-19 pandemic, which gives the Department of Health Services extra authority that they wouldn’t normally have. An advisory, however, is more of a tool to educate the public and policymakers about the importance and the impact something like gun violence has on society with no regulations involved.

“Public health’s role is to look at what is the impact that various state laws have on what happens on the ground in terms of homicides, suicides, accidents and injuries with firearms,” Humble said. “So you identify those laws that work and then do your advocacy to try to get those implemented.”

Will Humble, Executive Director, Arizona Public Health Association

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