Boston, MA -- In the wake of the horrific school shootings in Newtown, Conn. in December, three Harvard experts say the best way to curb gun violence in the U.S. is to take a broad public health approach, drawing on proven, evidence-based strategies that have successfully reduced other public health threats like smoking, car crashes, and accidental poisonings.
The authors make the case for a comprehensive public health approach to gun violence in a viewpoint article published online January 7, 2013 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
For instance, in much the same way that media, celebrities, peers, teachers, and physicians worked together in the latter decades of the 20th century to "de-glorify" cigarettespreviously seen as symbols of power, modernity, and sexualityan analogous campaign "could justifiably equate gun violence with weakness, irrationality, and cowardice" and reduce its glorification in movies, television, and video games, the authors write.
Policy debates and discussions have largely focused on issues relating to gun ownership, such as banning assault weapons, instituting waiting periods for purchases, and requiring universal background checks. However, gun violence is a public health problem arising from additional sociocultural, educational, behavioral, and product safety issues that transcend gun ownership alone, say the authors.
"Gun violence is a public health crisis, and addressing this will require a comprehensive, multi-dimensional public health strategy," said lead author Dariush Mozaffarian, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). "Our past successes in reducing other harmful behaviors and accidents provide a set of evidence-based tools to address the many underlying root causes of gun violence."
Mozaffarian is a preventive cardiologist with expertise in lifestyle and behaviors. His co-authors inclu
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Harvard School of Public Health