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Firearm Injury is a Public Health Problem: The Data & The Solutions

Looking at firearm injuries as a health problem means that we can research and implement public health solutions that work.

The Data

  • Deaths, injuries, ripple effects

    More than 100 people die, and more than 300 people a day are injured in the United States from a gunshot wound.

    The survivors: Ripple effects on survivors and families include mental health issues, substance use disorder, and more.

  • Child deaths

    In recent years, firearm injury has surpassed car crashes to become the leading cause of death of U.S. children.

  • Geography

    Firearm deaths are distributed across rural, suburban, and urban areas, but are generally highest in communities with social and economic vulnerability, communities affected by racial inequities, and communities with higher rates of firearm ownership.

  • Financial costs

    The U.S. Government Accountability Office estimates that medical treatment for firearm injuries costs the U.S. more than $1 billion per year.

    To note: This figure is a significant underestimate, as it does not account for criminal justice and economic effects of violence.

The Solutions

We can use the tools of public health, which have improved other problems like car crash fatalities, to research and implement solutions that work:

  • Gather data
  • Identify risks and protective factors
  • Develop and evaluate interventions
  • Scale what works and cultivate strong partnerships

This approach must be collaborative and involve both gun owners and non-owners to achieve change.

Some firearm injury prevention approaches already backed by research include:

  • States that require gun owners to safely store firearms from kids saw a 23-29% decrease in child firearm fatalities (Cummings; Azad).
  • States that restrict access to guns for people subject to domestic violence restraining orders have seen a 13% reduction in intimate partner homicides involving firearms.
  • Transforming vacant lots into gardens in high-risk neighborhoods decreases gunshot wounds.
  • Health care providers can screen people with suicidal thoughts for firearm access and counsel them on removing access to lethal means.
The public health approach to firearm injury prevention must be collaborative and involve both gun owners and non-owners to achieve change.