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Gun Control
by Helen Edelman July 14, 2016

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. Violence merely increases hate. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The gun control debate, inevitable in the aftermath of the horrific mass shooting in Orlando, has spotlighted the toll gun violence takes on public health. Some members of the medical community have been trying for years to address gun violence with the same kind of powerful campaign that in the past has targeted polio, smoking-related cancer or car accidents. The American Medical Association is actively lobbying Congress to overturn legislation that has prevented the Centers for Disease Control from researching gun violence for two decades. Following Orlando — the deadliest mass shooting in American history — and the tally of gun-related deaths reaching more than 6,000 so far in 2016 alone, the AMA has declared gun violence "a public health crisis." The American College of Physicians has been calling gun violence “an epidemic” since 1995.
"With approximately 30,000 men, women and children dying each year at the barrel of a gun in elementary schools, movie theaters, workplaces, houses of worship and on live television, the U.S. faces a public health crisis of gun violence," AMA President Steven Stack said. "Even as America faces a crisis unrivaled in any other developed country, Congress prohibits the CDC from conducting the very research that would help us understand the problems associated with gun violence and determine how to reduce the high rate of firearm-related deaths and injuries. An epidemiological analysis of gun violence is vital, so physicians and other health providers, law enforcement and society at large may be able to prevent injury, death and other harms to society resulting from firearms."

"We're not debating the constitutionality of firearms - that exists," added Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. "Firearms exist and people get hurt and die from firearms. There are ways for us in a nonpolitical manner to make people safer with their firearms in a society."

In New York, law enforcement, religious and community leaders are lauding a $1.7 million state grant to combat gun crime. It's part of the Gun-Involved Violence Elimination Initiative through the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, designed to take illegal guns off the streets. The initiative focuses on communities that collectively report 86 percent of the violent crime in the state outside of NYC, including Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Hempstead, Jamestown, Kingston, Middletown, Mount Vernon, Newburgh, Niagara Falls, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Schenectady, Spring Valley, Syracuse, Troy, Utica and Yonkers, as well as Nassau and Suffolk counties. Read more at http://criminaljustice.ny.gov/crimnet/ojsa/impact/index.htm.


– Helen Susan Edelman, LiveSmart Project Director, livesmart@classroomenrichment.org; www.facebook.com/crlivesmart

Times Union - Edited and written by Helen Edelman

LiveSmart supports the Classroom Enrichment Fund at the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region and is made possible by donations from St. Peter’s Health Partners and Price Chopper, with promotional services provided by the Times Union and WNYT/NewsChannel 13. LiveSmart is compiled by Helen Susan Edelman, Project Director. This project ensures 70,000 students and teachers in the Capital Region have equal access to news content during the school year.