“Gun Violence is Not Inevitable”—PHI Statement on Federal Actions to Address Gun Violence
Statement from Mary A. Pittman, DrPH, CEO and President, Public Health Institute
The Public Health Institute supports the Biden-Harris administration’s actions to end gun violence, including calling for new rules to stop the proliferation of “ghost guns” that cannot be traced, strengthening regulations on arm braces that can enable pistols to fire like rifles, promoting “red flag” laws that bar firearms sales to people in crisis, and investing in evidence-based community violence interventions, among others.
The President stated, “This is an epidemic and it has to stop.” We agree. The Public Health Institute has long called for stronger measures to address the epidemic of gun violence and its root causes. The President’s executive actions today are an important first step toward such solutions.
Gun violence is also a racial justice issue. Due to historical and ongoing systemic racism and inequities, gun violence disproportionately impacts people of color. Black Americans are twice as likely as white Americans to die from gun violence and 14 times more likely than white Americans to be wounded. Guns cause more than individual harms—the toxic stress and trauma from violence brings lasting health harms to entire communities, creating long-term impacts on physical and mental health.
To end gun violence, we will need policy change, design modifications to guns, and increased collaborations across sectors to foster communities with full opportunity for all people to thrive, safe from gun violence. In addition to the Administration’s actions today, the community-based violence prevention programs in the President’s infrastructure proposal would provide essential resources to local anti-violence efforts and wraparound services that address the inequities in the communities that are most impacted by gun violence.
Still, more can and must be done. We urge Congress to take swift action to implement a comprehensive public health approach to violence prevention, prioritizing community- and evidence-based solutions to gun violence and assessing their racial impacts. Decreasing access to guns is essential for decreasing mass shootings and gun violence—including the lives lost due to gun violence in our cities every day that rarely make headlines.
Gun violence is not inevitable. We are in the midst of a public health epidemic, and the American people need real change now.