Murthy speaks the truth about gun violence

April 14, 2014 

Is gun violence a public health concern? This has become a big topic of discussion recently because the NRA is exerting substantial political pressure to defeat the nomination of Dr. Vivek Murthy for Surgeon General. Murthy believes gun violence is a public health concern and has the audacity to state this in public. The NRA is doing all it can to stop Murthy's confirmation. They are portraying him as an extremist.

Is Murthy an extremist? Hardly. In the 1990s then Surgeon General C. Everett Koop urged that gun violence be discussed in the public health arena. According to the medical journal The Lancet, "Murthy's views are shared by the wider medical community, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Furthermore, consensus across academic and governmental institutions exists that gun violence is a substantial and growing public health concern." So no, Murthy is not an extremist on this issue.

About 70,000 Americans are injured by guns annually; another 30,000 die. Guns rival cancer as a leading cause of death in children and are associated with a dramatic increase in suicide risk. About $2 billion is spent annually to treat gunshot victims. Sounds like a public health concern to me.

We were able to reduce the number of fatalities due to automobile accidents and cigarettes because we treated them as public health concerns. We can do the same for gun fatalities. Let's start by joining doctors in urging Congress to confirm Murthy for Surgeon General.

Cindy McMullan

Columbia

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