Dear Members and Friends of the YSPH Community,
The YSPH community extends its deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those affected by the back-to-back episodes of violence in New York and Texas. We are grief-stricken by the brutal murders of 10 Buffalo residents ages 20-86 years old who were killed at their local grocery store by a teenage white supremacist on May 14. We are horrified by the slaughter of 19 schoolchildren ages 8-10 years old and two of their teachers by another heavily armed teenager, who also shot his grandmother in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday.
Mass shootings are just part of the story of gun violence. Using the most recent data, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that, in 2020, 45,222 people died from gun-related causes in the U.S., the highest number ever recorded in a single year. Nearly all firearm deaths are homicides (43%) or suicides (54%), with the remainder being accidents or shootings by law enforcement personnel. There is a rippling effect that gun violence wreaks upon our communities and psyches. Toting military-style assault weapons and gear, individuals with extreme hatred, feelings of alienation, and/or mental disturbance are murdering our children and targeting people based on their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and religious affiliation. Assault weapons designed for military use are a frequent tool for mass murder.
Gun violence is a public health crisis. We must remain steadfast in our efforts to prevent senseless loss of life through research, advocacy, and practice. Steps to reduce gun violence include moderate, reasonable, and widely supported measures that will not constrain legitimate gun ownership. Universal background checks – which would finalize gun sales after an appropriate review is conducted – are a start. Preventing accidental gun deaths in the home, particularly among children, can be achieved by using locked storage, which can be legally mandated through child-access prevention laws. Extreme-risk protection orders (“red flag” laws) allow authorities to legally take guns away from persons threatening violence. Better strategies to keep guns out of schools and public places and modification of extreme “stand-your-ground” laws can help as well. Banning weapons designed for mass killing in war is essential.
As we continue to strive toward policies that will reduce gun violence in our nation, we know that creating a more just society for all is an ultimate goal. Until then, we must make our voices heard and advocate for fair and reasonable gun restrictions that protect us all.
We recommend the following resources to learn more about the issue:
- American Public Health Association (APHA) Fact Sheet on Gun Violence
- Sandy Hook Promise
- Connecticut Against Gun Violence
- Gun laws by state, from the Giffords Law Center
- Fact sheets from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
- Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) statement on recent mass shootings
- American Public Health Association (APHA) gun violence prevention resources
For members of the YSPH community, here are resources to help support you during this time:
- Yale Mental Health & Counseling
- Employee Assistance Program (Counseling and Support Services)
- Yale Chaplain’s Office
- Diane Frankel-Gramelis, YSPH Wellness Counselor
- Sten, Leigh, and Mayur
Sten H. Vermund, MD, PhD, Anna M. R. Lauder Professor of Public Health and Dean of the Yale School of Public Health
Leigh Roberts, Administrator-Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging Programs and the Office of the Dean at the Yale School of Public Health
Mayur M. Desai, PhD, MPH, FACE, Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion