Statement: Gun Violence Is a Full-Fledged Public Health Crisis

May 25, 2022

UNAC/UHCP released the following statement regarding the mass shootings in New York, Washington, California, and most recently in a Texas elementary school, all within May 2022:

“We have an epidemic of violence that will spread if American families fail to demand gun control, now. Children are unsafe at school—slaughtered as they sit in their classrooms—and specific communities are being targeted for mass violence in grocery stores and churches.

“More than 200 mass shootings have occurred this year alone in the United States. We are already seeing senators beg for some sort of compromise on this issue. We are past time for pleading. We are past time for debating and waiting.

“Gun violence is a full-fledged public health crisis in this country:

  • Every year, nearly 40,000 Americans are killed by guns.
  • The U.S. gun death rate is much higher similarly developed nations, including 100 times higher than the United Kingdom.
  • More than 7.5 million U.S. adults, according to a study published by the Annals of Internal Medicine, became first new gun owners between January 2019 and April 2021.
  • Active shooter incidents in our country skyrocketed between 2000 and 2020. The FBI reported three such incidents in 2000; by 2020, that number was 40.
  • The federal government has not passed gun control legislation in more than 25 years.

“Research also shows gun violence harms our mental health, resulting in anxiety and increased fear, grief-related depression, substance abuse and addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorders.

“Victims and witnesses of violence are also at risk for increased impulsive or aggressive behaviors that generate a continued cycle of trauma and violence to themselves, friends and family, and their communities.

“When it comes to protecting our health and our future, we are out of time.

“Even as 90% of Americans favor legislative action to curb gun violence, the overwhelmingly partisan rhetoric in Congress has placed significant federal gun control at a standstill. We have expired bans and failed attempts—including a lost chance to protect even more children and families with the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 after another 20 children and six educators were gunned down in their elementary school classroom in Newtown, Connecticut.

“Since then, efforts to pass tougher gun laws have failed. The reasons are clear: a powerful gun maker lobby keeps politicians from doing the right thing, and voters keep sending these same lawmakers back to Washington.

“Grief and prayer and sympathy are all important salves we apply to the immeasurable pain of families who cry out in anguish. Though critical to culture, community and humanity, these expressions must be followed with decisive policy acts. The psychological and physical wounds are still too deep and too wide.

“Tougher gun control laws are what we need for this epidemic of violence. Courageous lawmakers in Washington, and in our states and cities, are needed to make sure these laws get passed and signed. We need to educate ourselves and take that passion and knowledge to the ballot box.

“For the sake of our health, we can and must demand more from our elected leaders.”

Read related statements on gun violence: