US Surgeon General declares “firearm violence” a public health crisis

25 June 2024- United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy has released a landmark Surgeon General’s Advisory on Firearm Violence, declaring firearm violence in America a public health crisis. Firearm violence is pervasive, with more than half (54 percent) of U.S. adults or their family members having experienced a firearm-related incident in their lives.

Over the last decade, the number of people who have died from firearm-related injuries, including suicides, homicides, and accidental deaths, has been rising, and firearm violence is now the leading cause of death among children and adolescents.

“Firearm violence is an urgent public health crisis that has led to loss of life, unimaginable pain, and profound grief for far too many Americans,” said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. “We don’t have to continue down this path, and we don’t have to subject our children to the ongoing horror of firearm violence in America. All Americans deserve to live their lives free from firearm violence, as well as from the fear and devastation that it brings. It will take the collective commitment of our nation to turn the tide on firearm violence.”

In response to today’s Advisory on Firearm Violence issued by U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, declaring firearm violence in America to be a public health crisis, Attorney General Anthony G. Brown issued the following the statement:

“Today the U.S. Surgeon General issued an advisory declaring firearm violence in our country to be a public health crisis. Here in Maryland, families are suffering due to preventable gun violence. Mass shootings in Brooklyn Park, at Morgan State University, in Joppatowne, in Annapolis – and that’s in 2023 alone – have caused so much pain and heartbreak. We cannot live like this. It is more than a crisis; it is an epidemic.

I have long supported common-sense gun measures, and will continue to do so, that will prevent much of the violence that is plaguing our communities. I commend Surgeon General Murthy on taking this bold action to protect the safety and well-being of those who call America home.”

The Surgeon General’s Office has laid out a plan that it says, “outlines an evidence-informed public health approach to addressing the crisis of firearm violence. This approach involves critical research funding, implementation of prevention strategies, and increased mental health access and support including”:

  1. Critical research investments, such as:
    1. Improving data sources and data collection;
    2. Examining short-term and long-term outcomes of firearm violence; and
    3. Conducting implementation research to improve effectiveness of prevention strategies.
  2. Community risk reduction and education prevention strategies, such as:
    1. Implementing community violence interventions;
    2. Incorporating organizational violence prevention and emergency preparedness elements into safety programs; and
    3. Encouraging health systems to facilitate education on safe and secure storage.
  3. Firearm risk reduction strategies, such as:
    1. Requiring safe and secure firearm storage, including child access prevention laws;
    2. Implementing universal background checks and expanding purchaser licensing laws;
    3. Banning assault weapons and large capacity magazines for civilian use;
    4. Treating firearms like other consumer products, including requiring safety testing or safety features;
    5. Implementing effective firearm removal policies when individuals are a danger to themselves or others; and
    6. Creating safer conditions in public places related to firearm use and carry.
  4. Mental health action and support, such as:
    1. Increasing access to affordable, high quality mental health care and substance use treatment; and
    2. Building on investments to enhance safety measures and evidence-based violence prevention efforts in learning settings.