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Gun Violence Seen by Some as Public Health Concern

July 10th, 2014 at 7:43 am

gun violence, mental health, mental health system, public health crisis, Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney, fatal shootings, felony, Christopher M. CosleyIn light of the many recent fatal shootings in the media, not to mention the countless mass shootings marring our nation’s recent past, it is perhaps not surprising that many are trying to pinpoint the true root of the problem of gun violence, and attempt to come up with ways to address it. A prior blog post discussed the treatment of the gun problem as more of a mental health issue. Now, according to an article published by CBS News, experts are suggesting the mass violence is more properly considered and treated as a public health crisis.

Gun Violence as a Disease

The article suggests that it is essentially a waste of time to continue debates about gun reform and a flawed mental health system. Rather, a more effective way of ending the cycle of gun violence is to treat it as a disease and enlist the help of healthcare workers in fighting it. Experts say that a health-based system is necessary for gun violence prevention.

Research from the University of Illinois Chicago School of Public Health shows that violent behavior usually exhibits the characteristics of an epidemic disease in that it clusters and spreads. It not only directly impacts the health of those involved, but also negatively impacts the well-being of those exposed to it. Many medical organizations agree that the healthcare community is imperative to treating the issue of gun violence.

Getting Physicians Involved

Some groups who are advocating treating gun violence like a disease are even encouraging physicians to counsel patients in gun safety and to join efforts to restrict the sale and ownership of guns. This idea has been met with some resistance, however. The prospect of including a gun violence prevention course in the American Medical Association’s Continuing Medical Education program was met with mixed opinions and an ensuing debate. Some support the idea of integrating medical professionals into combatting violence, while others say it puts too much of a social worker role on doctors who should be focused on attending to patients. There is also ongoing debate about how involved a physician should get in asking a patient background questions regarding firearms.

Federal Health Agencies

These groups are also encouraging federal health agencies to join in on tackling the issue. This includes the Surgeon General and the CDC, among others. Supporters of treating gun violence like a disease say that these agencies and others should be working to protect the public from deaths and injuries from gun, just as they do from other dangers. Many gun rights activists are opposed to this, as it would involve federal health officials in gun control efforts.

Criminal Defense Attorney

While the specific ways to address this issue from a disease perspective are continuing to be argued, some are simply pointing out that those healthcare workers with access to the population should be part of the effort in educating communities about the dangers of gun violence. However, in many ways, the problem of gun violence continues despite the efforts aimed at curtailing it.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a felony crime involving a firearm in the state of Illinois, contact an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney at The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley for a consultation.

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