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Guns: A Public Health Issue


The New York Times, January 7, 2013

To the Editor:

Re “At the E.R., Bearing Witness to Gun Violence” (Op-Ed,, Jan. 2):

David H. Newman’s thoughtful essay points to a much larger issue: firearm violence is a public health problem of major proportions.

The Newtown, Conn., tragedy and the one in Webster, N.Y., where two firefighters were fatally shot, cannot be ignored. Neither can the 31,000 Americans who die each year at gunpoint, a number that exceeds the number of babies who die each year in the first year of life or the number of people who die from AIDS or illicit drugs.

We must view gun violence as a serious threat to public health if we want to reduce the number of deaths associated with guns.

Ending the sale of assault rifles, high-capacity magazines and other facilitators of mass murder is a good start. We must also allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention greater capacity to study the incidence and effect of gun violence and to develop steps for preventing firearm death and injury through public education.

The evidence is clear, and we must take action now to protect our neighbors and ourselves from this devastating public health crisis.

New York, Jan. 2, 2013

The writers, medical doctors, are president and president emeritus, respectively, of the New York Academy of Medicine.

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Gina Ravosa
Director of Marketing & Communications
The New York Academy of Medicine
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New York, NY 10029
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