It won’t stop until we stop it
It happened again in America, and it will keep happening. It’s a tragic drama that we, with sadness and in horror, have watched play out in multiple cities and towns across our nation, which permits more guns than any other developed country. Last week, it was Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 people, including students and teachers, were murdered by a man with an assault rifle. In a few terrifying, catastrophic minutes, lives were lost, futures destroyed, potential gone, families devastated, and a community was left in unbearable pain.
This time, though, something remarkable happened in the aftermath. Students took themselves to legislatures and said “no more.” That’s a powerful, rational response to an incredibly emotional and senseless event. I hope that students and other young people across the country can reclaim their futures in a way that older people have been unable to accomplish. It could be that this young people’s crusade for life and common-sense gun regulation finally turns the tide – or legislators can turn away from the young people, toward the NRA, and refuse to change. If the latter happens, more young people and educators will die senselessly and unfairly in cities and towns across the U.S.
Message from National Academy of Medicine
The message below was sent to members of the National Academy of Medicine by the Academy’s president, Victor J. Dzau, MD.
Like all of you, I am deeply saddened by the tragedy that unfolded in Parkland, Florida, last week and concerned about the lack of meaningful progress in preventing future human loss. There is no doubt about it – gun violence is an escalating public health crisis in the United States. We at the National Academy want to do our part.
As you may know, the Institute of Medicine [now the National Academy of Medicine] released a report in 2013 following the Sandy Hook shooting titled Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence. The report outlined priorities across the following domains: characteristics of firearm violence, risk and protective factors, firearm violence prevention and other interventions, impact of gun safety technology, and video games and other media. Unfortunately, no actions were taken at the time to support the much-needed research and recommendations, but there are now signs of progress. According to an article today [Feb. 22] in the Washington Post, a group of House Democrats wrote to Paul Ryan yesterday, asking him to pave the way for research on gun violence and citing the IOM report as a potential roadmap. To advance the research agenda, we are actively seeking meetings with leaders at the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reactivate the conversation. We want to make sure that they understand the report’s recommendations and emphasize that the NAM stands ready to facilitate action as an expert advisor and convener.
We are also considering other approaches to apply our leadership and resources to accelerate progress in this area. This will be hard work but we are committed to this important course. I welcome your ideas and participation as we move forward.
As a member of the National Academy of Medicine, I look forward to working with Dr. Dzau and others to advance this important cause.
Note: At the annual meeting of the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, in Washington, D.C., there will be a special session on the morning of March 9 to discuss actions that can be taken from the academic public health perspective. Please join the conversation if you can.
The views expressed in this blog are Barbara Rimer’s alone and do not represent the views and policies of The University of North Carolina or the Gillings School of Global Public Health.