Is Gun Violence a Threat to Public Health?

Mike Weisser
4 min readDec 4, 2022

Almost thirty years ago, two medical researchers, Art Kellerman, and Fred Rivara, published research which definitively found that access to guns created medical risk. Since that research appeared, more than one million Americans have died from gunshot wounds, and at least another two million or more Americans have suffered non-fatal gunshot wounds.

In many cases, the victims of gun injuries who survived their wounds ended up having their lives shortened anyway. In just about every one of these three million instances where guns were used to end or shorten lives, the financial and psychological costs of this threat to health have been extreme.

In the past several years, gun-violence numbers appear to be mounting up, in many jurisdictions the increase in gun injuries has been in the order of 30 percent or even more.

Given what Kellerman and Rivara said about gun violence, findings which have been replicated again and again over the past three decades, I don’t understand why everyone now seems to agree that while gun violence constitutes a public health threat, the problem isn’t being treated as a public health issue at all.

And before anyone starts yapping to me about the sanctity of their 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ mandating legal sanctions or rules to protect the community from a threat to public health has absolutely nothing to do with the Bill of Rights.

While the issue of closing public facilities or requiring social distancing in response to Covid-19 might have occasionally sparked a degree of phony outrage on the part of some freedom-loving conservatives, as well as that jerk who was elected President in 2016, the bottom line is that if a community vests a public body like a Health Department to set standards of public behavior to control a threat to health, what this body decides to do is what gets done.

I recall at one point during the Pandemic that Charlie Baker, the Governor, was waffling as to whether to issue a statewide masking mandate covering all public sites. Meanwhile, the Board of Health of the city of Chicopee, which happens to be adjacent to where I live, decided not to dilly-dally around, and pronounced a masking mandate covering every public facility in the town. I happened to pull into a convenience store…